In most private high school settings, there is no child left behind. Private high schools vary, but the best ones feature small class sizes, superb faculty, and a college prep curriculum that is rigorous. Although tuition can be expensive, private high schools usually extend financial assistance packages. Institutions run the gamut from boarding schools, military schools, day-schools, and religiously affiliated schools.
Smaller Classes in Private High Schools
Class size and student-teacher ratios often determine how successful students will be in a class. Small class sizes benefit students and teachers by:
- ensuring that every student receives the help and attention they need to succeed
- having the ability to cover material more thoroughly
- getting to know every student in the class in terms of how they think and express themselves
- recognizing weaknesses before they can damage the learning process for each individual learner (such as special needs)
- personalizing curriculum goals by linking them to individual needs and rate of learning speed
- conversing rather than lecturing
Private high schools that accommodate class sizes that are equal to public school class sizes cannot ensure individual student success. In smaller private schools where such situations exist, larger classes may contain students with greater disparities of learning and success potential. The academically stronger students become bored with the pace of learning; the weaker students feel left out.
Private High Schools Hire Superb Faculty
Public high school teachers must be licensed or certified by the state. In most cases, certification focuses more on education credentials rather than subject knowledge. The opposite is usually the case in private high schools. Although private high schools are regulated by state education boards and in some cases teachers will be state certified, teachers in the best private high schools hold degrees – often graduate degrees, in the subject they teach.
Fluency in the discipline ensures that teachers can better achieve goals and outcomes. Students graduate knowing more, are able to think critically, can better analyze information, interpret, research, write, and express themselves in a classroom setting. These are all benefits of small class sizes led by highly qualified teachers. Additionally, disciplinary problems in private high schools are far fewer, thus eliminating classroom distractions or the need to address inappropriate behaviors.
The Cost of a Private High School is Worth the Sacrifice
Many private high schools offer scholarships for students with demonstrated academic skills. Some scholarships are tied to diversity goals. For some religiously-affiliated private schools, tuition reductions are tied to church membership. The best schools, however, ensure that graduates can compete for admission to top tier universities and colleges.
Private school preparation for such institutions is the “bottom line” decision factor for most parents. Because every facet of a college prep program in a private school focuses on college success, students enter the final phases of their educational experiences poised to succeed.
The true measure of any high school education is not how many graduating students enter college, but how many will ultimately graduate from college. College freshman year success is intricately tied to college prep high school programs.
Not All Private High Schools are the Same
Parents considering a private high school, after weighing the pros and cons of a public school education, should be selective and discerning. For some, a boarding school might be a better option than a day-school. In other areas, local public high schools may be just as good as existing private high schools.
In many cases, local private high schools may have been established because the public schools were weak. Yet even in terms of tuition expense, such local private schools may not be as good as the longer established prep schools with proven records of success that often span many decades. If high school education is a priority, private high schools represent an excellent option for students and parents.