A Guide For Interpreting Private School Statistics


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Private school websites, brochures and articles are full of statistics comparing their school’s program to other private schools. Parents looking to find the best private school for their child may not always know exactly what the numbers are representing. Here are some questions that you may have when undergoing the private school comparison process along with answers and additional information so you can process the statistics and make the most informed decision.

#1. What is a private school’s coeducational category?

Sometimes, private school ratings may refer to the school’s coeducational category. There are three options of coeducational categories. They are either schools that are only for boys, schools that are only for girls, and schools that enroll both genders–called coeducational schools. The vast majority–about 95%–of private schools are coeducational.

#2. What is a private school’s program emphasis?

One of the reasons why parents send their children to private schools is to educate their children with a particular program emphasis. A program emphasis means that the private school has a specialized focus. One popular program emphasis is Montessori schools which emphasize independence and freedom of choice in their curriculum. A program emphasis may also be a vocational school which focuses on preparing students for careers.

#3. What is a private school’s typology or orientation?

A private school’s typology or orientation refers to any type of religious-affiliation the school may have. Popular religious-affiliations for private schools include Catholic schools. Whereas 80% of private school students attend schools with a religious affiliation, some private schools are nonsectarian which means they are secular or don’t adhere to one religious doctrine.

#4. What is a private school’s urbanicity type?

The urbanicity type refers to the population density of the school’s location. Urbanicity types include city schools which have the most highly populated areas, suburban schools which have a more family or residential feel while still being near a metro area, town schools which have lower populations, and rural schools which may be in areas with large amounts of agricultural land.

#5. What is a private school’s pupil/teacher ratio?

A private school’s pupil/teacher ratio relates to how many students there are for each teacher. Typically, lower ratios indicate more attention given to each student. Low ratios are often more attainable for smaller schools. As about 86% of private schools have less than 300 students, one major advantage of many private schools is their pupil/teacher ratio.

#6. What is a private school’s graduation rate?

A graduation rate is a very important statistic to consider when comparing private academy schools. The graduation rate is the percentage of all senior students enrolled at the start of the school year who successfully graduate. Private schools often showcase their high graduation rates as a measure of the success of their program.

With an estimated 30,861 private elementary, middle and high schools serving over four million students, parents have a lot to consider when finding the best public school for their child. Making sure you understand the numbers in school information is key to making sure you select the private school that will be a great fit for your unique child.

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