The ERBs are modified intelligence tests that are given by the Educational Records Bureau as private school admissions tests for students entering pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. They are mainly given around New York City. The tests have been the subject of recent controversy because some tutoring companies are prepping kids for these tests, leading some private schools to question whether the tests are a good measure of a student's readiness to handle the school's curriculum. Parents, on the other hand, often turn to outside tutors because competition for pre-k or kindergarten spots at New York City private schools can be fierce. To prepare for private school admissions, the schools advise parents to read to their children, speak with their children, and allow their children to feel comfortable in the interview process. Read more about the controversy around the ERBs.
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Ever wonder why private schools refer to themselves as independent schools or how to make sense of various admissions tests, such as the OLSAT, WISC, ERBs, and the COOP? Well, here's a private school glossary to help you keep all the terms straight.
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While many private school students are fortunate to work with college guidance counselors who know them well and who work with a manageable number of students, parents can still help their children navigate the long college admissions process. Starting sophomore year, parents and kids can sit down and map out classwork and extra-curricular activities that build on their interests, and they can start to develop a list of realistic target schools. Most importantly, they can visit the colleges, time and finances permitting, and see if they are really a good fit for the student. Read more about parents' role in the college admissions process.
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Private school teachers can refine their skills and share professional experiences at a number of summer and school-year conferences. For example, NAIS, or the National Association of Independent Schools, holds a yearly conference about issues affecting independent schools, as well as an annual People of Color Conference in December. Summercore, founded in 1982, trains teachers to teach technology in what they call their "unique 5-day marathon in hardware, software, and humanware." Read more about conferences for private school teachers.
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From fifth through twelfth grade, President Barack Obama attended a Hawaiian private school called Punahou on scholarship. There, he developed a good reputation as a likable and serious student who was knowledgeable about international issues from his time living in Indonesia. Nonetheless, like many people who go on to achieve great things, he did not seem destined for greatness, and he spent much of his time on the basketball court and won a state championship during his senior year in 1979. Read more about Obama at Punahou.
Photo: Barack Obama at Punahou graduation, May 1, 1979/Laura S.L. Kong
A number of private schools, such as Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico, have installed solar panels to reduce harmful emissions. These types of solar arrays can also help schools reduce their energy costs--by 20% in the case of Albuquerque Academy--and incentives programs allow schools to avoid large upfront costs. In addition, solar panels help students and teachers think about their individual and communal energy use and learn how to live in a more sustainable way. Read more about how private schools are using solar panels to reduce emissions and energy costs.
Photo: Library spire at Albuquerque Academy/Michael Barley, courtesy of Albuquerque Academy
While several groups, including the National Association for College Admission Counseling, have called for a reconsideration of required college admissions tests, millions of students still take these tests, including the SAT and ACT, each year. Partly in response to its critics and to the increased popularity of the ACT, which for the first time in 2012 boasted more test-takers than the SAT did, the College Board has announced future changes to the SAT. The timetable of these changes is still unclear, but they will involve a closer alignment of the SAT with the Common Core Standards adopted by most states as the benchmarks students in grades K-12 must reach. Read more about the SAT of the future and carry out a comparison of the SAT and ACT.
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Recently, Patrick F. Bassett, President of the National Association of Independent Schools or NAIS, wrote about 25 qualities that define great private schools. He wrote that qualities that define great schools include a well-defined mission, such as that at a Montessori or Waldorf school, coupled with a constant commitment to change, diversity, professional development, and data-driven decisions. While a school must tell its story in a compelling way, it must also be willing to reinvent itself and provide for future sustainability.
Photo: A Montessori School/photo © Lori Hughes
While Hawaii has recently designated surfing as an official high school sport, the rest of the U.S. lags behind in its appreciation of this ancient sport. While Hawaii might have an advantage when it comes to the best surf and surfing conditions, there are many private schools in California (and one in Florida) that have surf teams and clubs. At these boarding and day schools, you can throw down some great surfing and get totally amped.
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John F. Kennedy was an always popular, sometimes scholarly, and often antic student during his school years. Read more about JFK at Choate, where he blew up a toilet seat and managed to be voted "most likely to succeed," and about JFK's younger years, when he battled childhood illnesses and lived in his older brother Joe's shadow. Jackie Kennedy, on the other hand, was a generally scholarly young woman, who enjoyed riding and studying French and who only occasionally showed her antic side, such as when she "accidentally" dropped a slice of chocolate cake on an exacting teacher.
Photo: Jackie Kennedy in 1961 in Paris/RDA, Hutton Archives, Getty Images