Choosing a Nonpublic School
When choosing a school for your child, we recommend you ask many questions of a school's administrators and, if possible, other parents of children attending that school. We suggest you review each school's Web site and ask for a copy of its parent and student handbooks.
Nonpublic schools in New Hampshire are required to meet minimum state standards for approval as detailed in Part Ed 403 of the New Hampshire Code of Administrative Rules. The state does not prescribe or stipulate what a nonpublic school shall teach nor determine the minimum qualifications of its staff. Parents of students attending private high schools in New Hampshire should be aware that graduates of nonpublic high schools are not required to meet the same graduation requirements as public high schools. When choosing a school for your child, we recommend you ask many questions of a school's administrators and, if possible, other parents of children attending that school. We suggest you review each school's website and ask for a copy of its parent and student handbooks. We also suggest that you carefully consider the following:
Has the school been accredited by a recognized accrediting organization? If not, can the school administration demonstrate how it measures adherence to standards and accomplishment of its goals and objectives?
Aside from the stated tuition, are there any other costs for equipment or supplies such as computers, uniforms, books, etc.? What is the school's refund policy if your child leaves the school for any reason?
Does the school adhere to a specific educational philosophy? Does this philosophy align with the ideals you would set forth for your child? Does the school's approach to student discipline agree with yours?
What is the foundation for the curriculum adopted by this school? How is individual student progress evaluated and reported to the student and parents? Is extra help available if your child needs additional support? Does this school have an approved program to diagnose and assist students with special learning needs or behavioral disabilities? Are students required to participate in any standardized testing programs? Are credits earned at the school easily transferable to other schools in the state? If your child transfers to a public high school or another nonpublic school, will your child need to complete required courses not offered at this school?
How can a parent or student voice a concern regarding a teacher or another student? Does the principal or director report to a governing board or an advisory board? Does the school's approach to discipline meet your expectations?
Do the teachers have adequate experience and education to teach their assigned courses? What kind of background checks, if any, are conducted on personnel employed by this school?
Is emergency medical care readily available during school hours? Is medical care available during all hours of the day if it is a boarding school? Is there a firm policy discouraging student bullying? Are there consequences for negative behavior?
The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) offers additional guidance on Choosing A School For Your Child.
An article published by the Commission on Independent Schools (CIS), Independent School Accreditation, offers guidance on how accreditation can be a helpful indicator of the quality of education when choosing a school.