What Attracts Families to Independent Schools
Personalized Education, Small Class Size, and Excellent Teaching
Parents looking for an outstanding educational experience for their children frequently turn to independent schools because they provide advantages found nowhere else. These parents see their children succeed in many ways as they journey to school, on to college, and eventually to careers.
Families in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana are fortunate to have a wide array of independent schools available to them: the thirty-seven day and boarding schools that make-up the Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools. These schools, which meet rigorous accreditation standards, provide parents with a chance to become involved in the life of the schools to be in touch with teachers on a regular basis, and to see their children get the individualized attention they need.
Educational researchers consistently find that small class size and superior teaching boost learning. A survey by the National Association of Independent Schools shows that independent schools average a student-teacher ratio of nine to one, compared with sixteen to one at public schools. Furthermore, teachers at independent schools have more advanced preparation than colleagues at other schools.
The advantages for independent school graduates come regardless of the economic or social status of their families, according to the National Educational Longitudinal Study conducted by the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics.
The National Education Longitudinal Study and other national surveys show that independent schools excel in many other areas:
- From the lower grades on, independent school students taking art, computer science, a foreign language, and other subjects are more likely to be taught by teachers who specialize in their subject. These teachers provide a valuable boost to the learning of students with especially strong abilities.
- Independent schools emphasize participation in sports, community learning, and other areas that help students develop character traits such as commitment and perseverance. That preparation results in a higher completion rate for college (76 percent) for independent school graduates than for any other group. As adults, they also demonstrate greater interest in voting, community service, continuing education, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Independent schools focus on core academic classes intended to boost students’ chances of getting into competitive colleges; 70 percent of independent school eighth- graders take algebra compared with 32 percent of all eight-graders nationwide.
- Teachers in independent schools are given more freedom to be creative and to develop approaches that work specifically with their students. At independent schools, 68% of the teachers say they have great influence in establishing the curriculum, a much higher percentage than at other schools.
Many independent schools feel they enroll not only students but also parents, who become important partners in the work of bringing out the best in students.