Rating Public and Private Schools

Updated on August 08, 2011
M.B. asks from Miamisburg, OH
8 answers

After moving into this district FOR the schools 5 years ago, my son is signed up for kindergarden. Now, 2 weeks before school starts, I get a letter saying the school is in improvment status so I can send him to another elementary within district if I like. It's not to a point where we'd get a voucher for a private school. I've found websites that rank and compare public schools (schooldigger.com). Does anyone know of a similar one I could look at for private schools?

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answers from Washington DC on

greatschools.net....rates private and public schools...

I know how hard this is....we chose Fairfax County because of the school district...it's still a VERY good district - our school was really high - now, it's a little lower so we are being extra diligent in watching our kids with their homework, etc.

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answers from Washington DC on

First, Improvement Status simply means that they did not meet the target number for % of students at proficiency for at least ONE of the subgroups. It is not NECESSARILY an indication of the overall quality of the school program or the experience your son will have there.

That said, greatschools.net gives school rankings, but those are entirely based on TEST SCORES, which I personally think gives only a very small slice of the picture of a school.

My son is starting kindergarten this fall. His school is NOT well ranked by greatschools, but is in a very strong school district, and I am pleased with our decision. They have music, art and PE, a full time nurse, counselor and librarian, school busses, before and afterschool care. etc.

Greatschools doesn't usually give a SCORE to private schools, but you can click on the tabs and see all the information, which is a better more thorough way to go anyway.

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answers from Cleveland on

Ask for referrals from friends, and go tour the schools - public and private. That's the only way to know if a school is the right fit for your family. And it SHOULD be a good fit for your whole family. It is not only about how much they can teach your child. It is also about......

Do they share the same values as your family? (Spirituality, being environmentally conscious, no TV or video games, strong music and arts programs, and working with our hands are all important to our family. Our school considers these important, also.)

Will they work with you (and how will they work with you) when issues arise? What if your child is not liking school and doesn't want to go.........will they allow you to sit in the class for a little while to see what's going on in the room that is causing your child to be apprehensive?

Consider all aspects when choosing a school.

To Becky R. -- Yes, many private schools DO pay "appallingly low" salaries. Ours is one of them. However, because we all - parents and teachers alike - believe in what and how we are teaching our children, our teachers do NOT try year after year to find a better paying job. And trust me, money is definitely needed by all of them. None of them are living the high life! But because we believe that anyone who wants this type of education for their child should get it, the school does everything it can to not make it too expensive for the families. Two years ago, all of our teachers and staff took a 10% pay cut across the board, to help keep the programs that we have. 10% from their already meager salaries. Now, THAT is dedication to their teaching beliefs and the children.

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answers from Washington DC on

Word of mouth.
Ask your friends with older kids about their experiences.
WE have moved many times and in CA where the schools were the worst, (they taught some of the classes in Spanish, in public school), we had one of our best teachers.
THere are great teachers in bad schools and bad teachers in great schools.

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answers from Los Angeles on


I used this and the great schools site to pick our school. We finished kindergarten with a not so great private school. ?i wish I didn't ignore some of the negative comments...they were right! Ask around too, it's tough if you have several choices.

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answers from New York on

You will be better off if you go & tour private schools. Read the reviews, ask around & then tour. However- two weeks before school starts may mean a wait list! Just be prepared.

Also be aware that not all private schools are better! In our area there are some that are maximizing class sizes & hiring less qualified teachers because they are not bound by state regulations!

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answers from Columbus on

I had a similar situation 2 years ago. My first instinct was to pull my daughter out and send her to another school in the district ... because I want the best for my children! I then began making phone calls to various friends, family members, other elementary parents, school teachers ... basically anyone I knew who could help me think it through differently. After talking with a middle school teacher who also had children at the elementary level, his opinion was that the test scores can be skewed because we are in a "melting pot" school district, and those who have English as a Second Language (ESL) could potentially affect the scores for the entire district. The scores are NOT a reflection of the teaching staff ... as a matter of fact, most of the staff have their master's degrees. My daughter is about to begin 2nd grade and she has flourished in the environment. She is performing above grade level in virtually every area and I have no reservsations about leaving her in that school. I also have another daughter who is starting kindergarten this year.



answers from Columbus on

Don't be alarmed. Over 80% of public U.S. schools are labeled as failing. This label does not adequately reflect what is going on in schools and the quality of the school, its staff, or the education students receive. I would disregard it entirely and decide for myself. Visit the school and the staff. Talk to neighbors with kids who attend. Get involved.

Private and charter schools may or may not be better. Private and charter schools pay their teachers an appallingly low salary for the amount of education and experience teachers have. Unless they don't need the money, private and charter school teachers often try year after year to get a better paying job, so turn-over may be high and job satisfaction low.

As a public school teacher, I spend $2000 of my own money every year for my class to enrich the learning experiences for my students. I provide everything from basic school supplies my students' parents won't provide, consumables for art, math, and science projects, field trip admission, subscriptions for educational materials, and technology, including a laptop, projector, and wireless internet. It's not right, but that's the way it is. At least I can afford to do this.

My daughter is a teacher in a charter school, and even with a master's degree, is not paid enough to live on, let alone buy all these things for her class. She does the best she can with what she has.

Most teachers in all schools are working so very hard to give their students a good education, and the government's assessment of the quality of education is not a good indication of the gains each student is making. Please check for yourself and find the school that is best for your son and the way you want him to be taught. There are many differences. Also, find out if special area subjects, like physical education, are taught by certified, highly qualified teachers and if special services are provided, such as reading intervention, speech therapy, and special education. Does the school have air conditioning? Good luck!

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