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 The Independent School Advantage

While they share much in common, each independent school is unique. You can find schools that fit your student’s needs using our detailed School Search, which profiles nearly 1,500 fully accredited, non-discriminatory NAIS member schools.

What Makes Independent Schools Special

Independence in the truest sense of the word. Independent schools are governed by a board of trustees, not a public school board. They are primarily supported by tuition payments, charitable contributions, and endowment revenue.

  • Independent school teachers have the freedom to create educational experiences that meet each child’s needs, without state mandates on curriculum, textbooks, and testing.

Mission-driven education. Whether co-ed or single sex, day school or boarding school, each independent school is driven by its own unique philosophy, values, and approach to teaching.

  • The wide diversity among independent schools allows you to find a school that is a great fit for your student.

High academic standards. Independent schools nurture intellectual curiosity, stimulate personal growth, encourage critical thinking, and promote a lifelong love of learning.

  • More students in independent schools enroll in advanced courses than in public, parochial, and other private schools.

Small classes that allow for individual attention. Low student-teacher ratios encourage close connections between instructors and students.

  • In 2015-2016, the median ratio in NAIS schools was 8.6 students to each teacher.

Excellent teachers. Our instructors usually teach in their areas of expertise and strive to develop a full understanding of each student’s learning style, interests, and motivation.

  • Independent school students have a greater likelihood of completing a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree.

Education for the whole child. In addition to academics, independent schools also nurture students’ personal and social growth and civic conscience.

  • Outside the classroom, students participate in school-sponsored athletic competitions, artistic pursuits, and leadership experiences.

Inclusiveness. Independent schools maintain diverse and vibrant student communities that welcome and respect every family.

  • In 2015-2016, students of color comprised 26% of independent school enrollment, while 3.2% of students were from other countries.

A community of parents who actively participate in their children’s education. Independent schools promote regular communication among students, parents, and teachers to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals.

  • As a parent, you can actively engage in your student’s education, because the staff and teachers want and value your participation.



Article Date: 4/6/2016
Parent Perspectives
“What really won us over was seeing that teachers knew the individual kids so well. And they talked about a philosophy of learning that had nothing to do with studying for the test, but was instead about understanding what a child brought to his education.”