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  • Writer's pictureMargaret Cissel

Independent Schools vs. Private Schools: What is the difference?


As we travel around the country, speaking to seasoned educators and those just beginning their careers, we often get asked the simple yet important question: What is the difference between an independent school and a private school? The answer is that the two terms are interchangeable and refer to any school that is not public or, in other words, is not funded by the state or federal government but rather through other resources. For more on what makes a school “independent” or “private,” we recommend reading the following article by the National Association of Independent Schools.

What Are Independent Private Schools?

More than 2,000 independent private schools across the United States provide high-quality education to more than 700,000 students from pre-K through high school.

Independent schools are close-knit communities that provide students with individualized attention. They challenge students to stretch their minds and go beyond academics to develop responsible, independent, and community-oriented students.

What makes independent schools independentIndependent schools are independent in:

  1. Philosophy: each is driven by a unique mission.

  2. The way they are managed and financed: each is governed by an independent board of trustees and each is primarily supported through tuition payments and charitable contributions.

They are accountable to their communities and are accredited by state-approved accrediting bodies.

Independent schools come in all shapes and sizes. Independent schools include elementary and secondary schools; day and boarding schools; single-sex and coeducational schools. Some independent schools are religiously affiliated and others are not. They vary in size and educational approach.

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