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How can I compare private schools and public schools?

Amanda Lisk
StarNews

Q. I am looking into Wilmington private schools for my children. But I really don’t know how to compare the choices I have, including St. Mark Catholic School and Wilmington Christian Academy. For public schools we have at least the EOGs to look and compare with, but I don’t have anything to use for the private schools. They all seem to be accredited by different organizations as well. Also, how do I know that if my child attends a private school for his elementary school years that if we decide to go public later that they will not be behind the state curriculum?

Private schools do not have the same accountability or reporting requirements as public schools or public charter schools, says Vanessa Jeter, director of communication and information services for the NC Department of Public Instruction. The State Board of Education stopped accrediting private schools on June 30, 2000. Even though accreditation is optional for private schools, according to the U.S. Department of Education, most private schools are accredited by accrediting organizations independent of direct governmental control yet equivalent to state accreditation.

Private schools also use assessment testing equivalent to North Carolina’s End of Year or End of Grade (EOG) tests such as the TerraNova standardized assessment testing for grades K-12. The only difference is private schools are not required to publish scores and public schools are required.

Wilmington Christian Academy administrator, Barren Nobles said this:

“WCA meets all requirements of the NC Division of Non-Public Instruction, and we are fully accredited by the North Carolina Christian School Association, National Council for Private School Accreditation (national) and Middle States Association (regional). Our students regularly transfer to and from public schools without issue. Private school curriculums do not always have an exact correlation with the public schools; however, the same can be true when students transfer between states.”

Locally each year, private school students transfer into the New Hanover County public school system successfully according to the New Hanover County Public Schools office.

For more on private schools versus public schools, here’s a Great Schools article comparing the two.

Here’s a link to the NC Department of Education detailing private school regulations.

Go to private school review to find out what membership the private schools you are interested in belong to and what those organizations require for membership.

For facts and figures on public vs. private go here. and here (scroll down to see North Carolina).

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