Parents considering private schools for
their children often ask the question "How do I determine if a private school
has high student achievement?” Because private schools are not held accountable
to the government, they are not required to formally report student
achievement, programs or enrolment numbers.
In Canada, a private school operates as
a private business or non-profit entity, offering full-time instruction with an
enriching curriculum at the elementary, junior-high or high-school levels.
Private schools are not regulated by the government and educational
accountability is directed to students and their parents, based on the terms of
the private school enrollment contract.
Here are some guidelines of what to look
out for when determining if a private school has high student achievement.
Although top private schools
across the country
are not required to follow the government curriculum, many prep schools
choose to follow the
Ontario curriculum. Private schools that follow the provincial education
program are included in statistical data that analyzes student achievement.
This data is available online or ask the private school you are considering if
they can provide you with this information.
Some of the best private schools
don't follow the
Ontario curriculum, but usually have their own accountability systems through a
governance structure, such as a board. Some schools may also be members of
reputable associations like the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools (OFIS)
and the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) that require schools to
meet certain standards.
Prior to receiving CAIS accreditation,
schools must undergo a detailed assessment that examines everything from
curriculum to facilities to administrative operations. A full listing of CAIS
member schools can be found online. The CAIS website also allows you to do a
curriculum check to make sure the private schools you are considering follow
courses of study that are the same or better than their public school
Private schools do not have to hire
qualified teachers, they do not have to follow the provincial curriculum, they
do not have to use the provincial report card, and they do not have to
administer provincial standardized tests. Student achievement is generally
reflected in the excellence of its teaching staff.
In Ontario for example, teachers in
private schools are not required to be certified by the Ontario College of
Teachers (OCT). However, most private schools prefer teachers to become
certified with OCT as a condition of employment.
Private schools also tend to hire
teachers with a bachelor's or master's degree in their subject. Some schools
will even post their teachers credentials on their website.
Research is Vital
One way to determine if a
private school has high student achievement is through graduation rates.
Usually the matriculation rate in a private school is typically in the 90-95
per cent range, but check with the school for the specific statistics.
Private schools have private rules. Much
like a private country club or a private business, private schools are not
accountable to the public. A top private school will pride itself on academic
accountability and having quality teachers as a reflection of high student
How to determine if a private school has
high student achievement is based on a parent's due diligence when doing their