The overall quality of education offered at public schools across the U.S. has taken a bad PR hit over the past five years. Arts programs have been cut from curriculum and teachers have been laid off, many parents have turned towards private institutions as the saving grace of their child's education.
A 2002 study by the National Center For Education Statistics (NCES) found that private school students generally score higher than public school students on standardized tests, and they're also more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s.
"There's always going to be a need for alternatives to government schools," said Joe McTighe, Executive Director of the Council for American Private Education (CAPE). "There are hopeful signs in terms of states now turning to legislation that would provide parents more access and more choice to a variety of schools including religious and independent schools."
The greatest challenges that private eduction faces is keeping tuition affordable to low-income families and maintaining their autonomy. McTighe went on to explain that although it's important for private schools to remain independent from government oversight, it's equally important to provide a quality education.
"There's a very high bar set in these [private] schools. They demand excellence and they expect excellence in terms of student performance."
The curriculum focus of private schools across America differs, depending on whether or not they have a religious affiliation, and there's also a large focus on development of the whole person rather than the excessive emphasis on math and reading that many public schools employ.
Choosing a private school for your child is an endeavor that takes dedication and research. The best way to decide is to go to the school and talk with administrators. Observe the class rooms, get a feel for the community, talk with other parents, and insist on seeing test scores.
Websites that rate schools in each community, such as GreatSchools.org, will not be helpful when deciding on a private school.
"They only rank schools based on test scores," said Kathy Elwing, teaching assistant at Cardinal Montessori. "At this point in time private schools are not required to do testing like public grade schools; although, there are some [private schools] that test a lot more than others."
"I'm a firm believer that test scores don't tell the whole story," added McTighe. "I don't think that a reading or math score necessarily reflects the value that a school is bringing to a child."
We talked with each of the private schools in Woodbridge and compiled the following list to aide in your research for a quality private school that compliments your child's growth.School Grade Level Tuition Range Curriculum Number of Students Number of Teachers Religious Affiliation Riverview Baptist Day School six weeks - 4 years $80 - $195 per week Early Start and Abeka 50, capacity 120 12 Baptist Heritage Christian School K4 - 12th grade $3,140 - $4,635 per year Abeka and Bob Jones 350, student wait pool is 25 32 Baptist Cardinal Montessori School 3 years - 6th grade $4,450 - $6,200 per year Certified Montessori 125 5 None Academy Day Care 6 weeks - 12 years call for details Virginia SOL 140, no student wait pool call for details None Cloverdale School 2 1/2 years - 2nd grade $1,550 - $4,650 per year academics, socialization, physical skills, the arts, relaxation and movement, and wholesome fun 140, student wait pool is 10 18 None Trinity Temple Preschool 6 weeks - Kindergarten $115 - $190 per week Abeka 40, no student wait pool 10 Christian St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School prekindergarten - 8th grade 2,980 - $5,880 Dioceses of Arlington & the St. Albert the Great STEM Program 520 34 Catholic, but accepts nonreligious as well Minnieland Private Day School P2 - JK call for details Montessori call for details call for details