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Prospective Parents

Although each independent private school is driven by a different educational mission, they all share a commitment to providing a safe environment in which young people can learn academic skills plus  the importance of hard work, leadership, personal responsibility, and good citizenship.

Here are a few commonly asked questions regarding independent (private) schools:

Aren’t independent schools only affordable for rich people?

Students from all socioeconomic backgrounds attend independent schools. Many schools work with families to help meet the costs associated with an independent school education. Financial aid can come from the school or a variety of other sources and may include grants, scholarships, or loans.

Want to learn more? Visit or contact a member school today.

What does "independent" mean?

We mean independent in the best sense of the word.

These schools have the freedom to serve their distinct individual missions — the philosophy, values, and approach to teaching that are right for your child.

They have the freedom to let passionate teachers create educational experiences that meet your child’s individual needs, without state mandates regarding curriculum, textbooks, and testing.

They have the freedom to select the academic and extracurricular programs they want to offer, and to offer these programs to the students whom they feel most capable of serving well.

Distinct though each one is, independent schools also have a lot in common. They share a commitment to teaching young people academic skills plus the importance of hard work, leadership, personal responsibility, and good citizenship.

Among the characteristics of independent schools:

  • They’re independently governed by a board of trustees, as opposed to a public school board.
  • They must be fully accredited by an accrediting agency with high standards.
  • They may be coeducational or single-sex.
  • They may be day schools or boarding schools.
  • They are supported by a combination of tuition payments, charitable contributions, and endowment revenue — not public funds.

Want to learn more? Visit or contact a member school today.

Why should I invest in an independent school education for my child(ren)?

  • High academic standards. Independent schools nurture intellectual curiosity, stimulate personal growth, and encourage critical thinking. A larger percentage of students at independent schools are enrolled in advanced courses than in public, parochial, and other private schools.
  • Small classes and individual attention. Independent schools have low student-teacher ratios that encourage close connections with students. The median ratio in NAIS schools in 2008-2009 was 8.6 students to 1 teacher (meaning that half have a higher ratio and half have a lower ratio).
  • Excellent teachers. They usually teach in their areas of expertise and are passionate about what they do. With more autonomy within the classroom, teachers are able to develop a full understanding of how each student learns and what interests and motivates each individually.
  • Greater likelihood of a student completing a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree.
  • Education for the whole child. Independent schools nurture not just students’ intellectual ability and curiosity but also their personal and social growth and civic conscience. Opportunities extend well beyond the classroom to athletic competitions, artistic pursuits, and school leadership experiences.
  • Inclusiveness. Schools maintain diverse and vibrant student communities and welcome and respect each family. Students of color are 22.4 percent of total independent school enrollment. In addition, 11.4 percent of all faculty and staff in independent schools in 2008-09 were people of color.
  • A community of parents who actively participate in their children’s education. Independent schools promote regular communication among students, parents, and teachers to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals for the student.
  • The opportunity to choose a school with a mission. You can select a school whose philosophy, values, and teaching approach is right for your child.
  • And most important: An education that will pay dividends for a lifetime.

Want to learn more? Visit or contact a member school today.

How can parents judge the quality of their children’s schools?

NAIS cites five factors that drive success for kids and schools (whether public or private):

  1. High-quality, committed teachers. They should be well prepared in their content, possess strong teaching skills, and have a command of the materials they present in the classroom. They develop an understanding of how each student learns and what interests and motivates their students.
  2. Classroom lessons that are innovative and engaging. Hands-on learning experiences, stimulating class discussions, group projects, and off-site field trips are just some ways successful schools challenge students to stretch their minds.
  3. Intimate classroom settings within close-knit communities. Smaller classes allow teachers to tailor their teaching style to the needs of the students. In close-knit communities, every student is known, and knows adults he or she can rely on.
  4. An achievement-oriented culture. Quality schools expect all students to succeed. They encourage students to explore and value perseverance and achievement.
  5. Parental involvement. Schools that promote regular communication among students, parents, and teachers make sure that everyone is working toward the same goals for the student. Parental involvement can take many forms, including talking regularly to the child about what he or she is learning, helping out in the classroom, and serving on school-wide committees.

Want to learn more? Visit or contact a member school today.

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