A Guide to How Do I Determine If a Private School Has High Student Achievement?

Parents considering private schools for their children often ask the question "How do I determine if a private school has high student achievement?” Because private schools are not held accountable to the government, they are not required to formally report student achievement, programs or enrolment numbers.
In Canada, a private school operates as a private business or non-profit entity, offering full-time instruction with an enriching curriculum at the elementary, junior-high or high-school levels. Private schools are not regulated by the government and educational accountability is directed to students and their parents, based on the terms of the private school enrollment contract.
Here are some guidelines of what to look out for when determining if a private school has high student achievement.

Academic Accountability

Although top private schools across the country are not required to follow the government curriculum, many prep schools choose to follow the Ontario curriculum. Private schools that follow the provincial education program are included in statistical data that analyzes student achievement. This data is available online or ask the private school you are considering if they can provide you with this information.
Some of the best private schools don't follow the Ontario curriculum, but usually have their own accountability systems through a governance structure, such as a board. Some schools may also be members of reputable associations like the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools (OFIS) and the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) that require schools to meet certain standards.
Prior to receiving CAIS accreditation, schools must undergo a detailed assessment that examines everything from curriculum to facilities to administrative operations. A full listing of CAIS member schools can be found online. The CAIS website also allows you to do a curriculum check to make sure the private schools you are considering follow courses of study that are the same or better than their public school counterparts.

Teacher Certification

Private schools do not have to hire qualified teachers, they do not have to follow the provincial curriculum, they do not have to use the provincial report card, and they do not have to administer provincial standardized tests. Student achievement is generally reflected in the excellence of its teaching staff.
In Ontario for example, teachers in private schools are not required to be certified by the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT). However, most private schools prefer teachers to become certified with OCT as a condition of employment.
Private schools also tend to hire teachers with a bachelor's or master's degree in their subject. Some schools will even post their teachers credentials on their website.

Research is Vital

One way to determine if a private school has high student achievement is through graduation rates. Usually the matriculation rate in a private school is typically in the 90-95 per cent range, but check with the school for the specific statistics.
Private schools have private rules. Much like a private country club or a private business, private schools are not accountable to the public. A top private school will pride itself on academic accountability and having quality teachers as a reflection of high student achievement.
How to determine if a private school has high student achievement is based on a parent's due diligence when doing their research.
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