Published On: Friday, March 4, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|

Public schools vs. private schools: It’s a decision with which many parents struggle. For parents who may not have gone to private schools themselves, it may be even harder to reconcile paying out-of-pocket for a child’s primary or secondary education, because they haven’t had a chance to experience private schools first-hand.

Just 10% of students attend private schools, however the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) reports that there are more than 33,000 private schools in the United States, meaning that more than one in four schools is a private school.

The major question on most parents’ minds is whether private school is really worth the cost. While that’s a decision you’ll have to ultimately make for yourself, here are some factors to consider:

College prep

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), an analysis of students who graduated from high schools in 2012 showed that the percentage of graduates who went on to attend college was 24% higher for private school graduates than public school graduates.

Standardized tests are an important part in the college admissions process, and the NCES reported that private school students in grades 4 and 8 score significantly higher on reading and mathematics assessments than their public school counterparts.

When it comes to the ACT and SAT exams, private school attendees also bested public school students.

While some public schools are fantastic with preparing children for college, not all of them are, unfortunately. In general, private schools are able to offer more options to help talented kids who are college-bound get off to the right start.

Student to faculty ratios

A major advantage for private schools is smaller student to teacher ratios. The Houston School Survey reported in November 2015 that public schools had nearly 80% larger classes than private schools.

Private schools also have smaller student to counselor ratios, so when students are planning for college, that extra individualized attention can provide much-needed help with questions and decision-making.

Because class sizes are smaller, students who need extra attention and help in the classroom are able to get that help more easily in a private school setting than in a public school classroom.

Private schools are also able to offer more targeted learning to gifted and talented students, and may be able to better challenge gifted students than public schools are able to do.

Values and community

Private schools, because of their smaller size, tend to emphasize community service and civics, and instill a sense of social responsibility on students. Whether religious or non-sectarian, private schools tend to have a values-based leaning to their teachings, fostering a sense of community among the students and their families.

Many parents of private school students also admit wanting their children to be in what they feel is a safer environment than is the case in some public schools.


The answer to the question about whether private school tuition is worth the expense will depend on a number of factors.

For some families, private school is a time-honored tradition, so the decision is easy. For others, however, it is not so simple and usually comes down to the quality of education they feel their children would receive in their local public schools vs. available private school options.

Public schools are funded primarily through state and local governments. Many public school districts are finding themselves faced with tough decisions as a result of funding cuts, so the academic and extra-curricular activities they can offer may be much more limited than those available through private schools.

Whatever you decide, the most important thing parents can do is be involved in their children’s education. To make the best decision, parents need to really understand the available options. To that end, attend school open houses, and plan to visit prospective private schools to talk to faculty and administrators. Find an environment where you feel your child will thrive and succeed.

To learn more, and to schedule a visit to The Tenney School, contact us today.

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