Are Private Schools Effective?
Is a private school an effective academic choice for your child? Are they ultimately worth the financial investment? Is it the best possible environment for your child? While academic settings are certainly not one-size-fits-all, a highly engaged private school setting has something to offer any child. A large number of studies compiled by the Council for American Private Education have found that “students in religious schools enjoy a significant academic advantage over their counterparts in traditional public schools and charter schools, according to findings from a meta-analysis of 90 studies on the effects of schools conducted by William Jeynes, senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, and a professor at California State University, Long Beach. ‘The results indicate that attending private religious schools is associated with the highest level of academic achievement among the three school types, even when sophisticated controls are used to adjust for socioeconomic status,’ according to the report.” The data is strongly in favor of not just private education, but Biblically-based private education. Here are just a few more ways that a private school education is set apart.
Private Schools Foster a Love of Learning
Psalm 32:8, I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Private schools make a love of learning their top priority with their students. Nothing prepares a student for a lifetime of success like developing an enduring sense of curiosity and love of knowledge. Fostering a lifetime love of learning is one of the most critical skills that any school can impart to their students. With small class sizes and the finest educators, students are able to receive a more personalized and specialized education than they would in a public school setting.
In a private school, your student is more than just a number
Matthew 10:29-30, (NLT), What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
In a private school setting, you and your student become cherished members of the academic family. Students aren’t just a number at a great private school. Each student matters profoundly to the school community, and each has something unique to offer the school and their fellow students.
Private Christian schools put Jesus first
Matthew 6:33, NLT, Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
The number one goal of an excellent Christian school should be the production of Jesus-loving disciples. This goal is followed closely by fostering the minds of critical thinkers who truly love learning. Note that we did not say that the number one goal of Christian schools is to produce more “Christians.” There is a very big difference between someone who attends church every time the doors are open, and someone who is truly a Christ-like disciple. The best private Christian schools are built on true Biblical principles, such as:
Private Christian schools focus on character development
1 Samuel 16:7, (ESV), For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
Private Christian schools should focus not only on academics, but on the character development of their students. A successful graduate of a private Christian school should not just be a good student, but a good human being and contributing citizen of the world. Christian schools work hard to impart to their students:
- Leadership skills
- A servant’s heart
- A solid work ethic
- A global perspective
- A compassionate spirit
- And a heart for the marginalized
A school that’s goal is anything less may not be the best fit for your family. “Students who attend religious schools have fewer behavioral problems than their counterparts, even when adjusting for socioeconomic status, race, and gender.” That translates into fewer gangs, less drugs, and greater racial harmony in religious schools than in public schools. Why are students more successful in religious schools? Jeynes believes that such schools “have higher expectations of students and encourage them to take hard courses,” adding that religious schools subscribe to the notion that “students are often capable of achieving more than they realize.” -Council for American Private Education.
Private Christian schools are fostering a generation of servant-leaders
Matthew 20:16 (NLT), “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
- A servant leader doesn’t just enjoy being in charge of people.
- A servant leader is someone who intuitively knows how to call out the strengths in others.
- A servant leader is humble, and puts others before themselves.
- A servant leader knows that no task is below them, and will do whatever it takes to help the whole team succeed.
7 Things to look for in a private school
Here are seven things to look for in the very best Christian schools.
1. Low staff turnover
A private Christian school that treats their staff well will hold on to their teachers for many years. Pay attention to the morale of the educators, and if they really seem to love their jobs. Make sure you know what qualifications the teachers are required to have before they’re considered for a career at your school of choice. A great teacher is not about the paycheck. A great teacher loves their students, loves learning, and wants the best for each of their students.
2. Alumni success stories
Alumni success is not just about a long record of admission to top colleges. Look for a school that has produced graduates who are Jesus-loving servant-leaders in their fields. This speaks volumes about the foundation that was set for them during their private school years.
3. Parental partnership
A great school engages not just the student, but the whole family as well. If you see parents who are just as excited about the school as the staff, that’s a wonderful sign. A wonderful Christian school has something for every member of the family.
4. Small class sizes
One of the key advantages of a private education is the one-on-one attention allowed by small class sizes. With low teacher to student ratios, it becomes impossible for your child to fall through the cracks. Each student can receive the individualized attention they need to flourish. Look for a student/teacher ratio of no greater than 10 to 1.
5. Top-ranked academics
A fine Christian education is not just about moral values, but academic success as well. The technology and facilities at the best Christian schools should be cutting-edge. Both the STEM and fine arts programs offered ought to be exceptional. Teachers should be highly educated and passionate about their jobs.
6. Authentically Christ-centered values
In the very best Christian schools, religion isn’t just a label. It won’t just be a part of a mission statement. Christian values should be an integral part of the curriculum, and every teacher and administrator’s life. The faculty and staff should be madly in love with Jesus, and reflect that love to their students every day. The Bible should be integrated into every subject, providing students with a well-rounded education from a Biblical worldview.
7. Exceptional extracurriculars
The finest Christian schools will offer their students a wealth of extracurricular activities, service opportunities, and athletic programs. A great education isn’t just about academics; it requires a well-rounded approach that nurtures a student’s God-given gifts and talents. Seek out a school that offers great programs in areas your student is passionate about, such as fine arts, theater, athletics, or technology.
Affording Private School
Luke 12:27-32, (NLT), “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
If a Christ-centered education is important to you, there are many avenues to make it achievable for your whole family. Spend dedicated time discussing your priorities with your significant other, and then invest time in crunching your budget. Take a hard look at your finances and see where there’s room to wiggle and room to trim. Making a solid game plan together, starting today, will help you achieve your educational goals for your family. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Explore multi-child discounts on Christian school tuition
Many private Christian schools offer discounts to families who have more than one child enrolled. Often, the discount grows with the addition of each each new student. Schedule a meeting with a financial advisor at the school to go over all of your options in detail. They will best be able to direct you to the right programs and services that will help meet your needs.
Take advantage of variable tuition
Variable tuition allows families to pay for their children’s tuition on a sliding scale based on income and need. The goal of any Christ-centered academy is to open up educational opportunities to as many families as possible. They should be willing to work with you carefully and compassionately to help you achieve your family’s educational goals.
Explore the possibility of outside scholarships and grants
Many churches and even denominations offer scholarships and grants for K-12 private Christian education. Start pounding the proverbial pavement (i.e., Google) to see what is available in your area and what you may qualify for. Be willing to cast a wide net and apply for everything you can. There are also tax breaks available in many states (including Virginia) for parents paying for private school tuition. There may be more assistance available to you than you imagined!