Interested in starting your own private school? Studia Nova’s own journey towards becoming a fully accredited private school had its challenges. Read below to take advantage of some of what we learned along the way. If you want to start out easy and learn as you go, you can Get Involved by starting a Learning Community first.
A well-run school that responds to parents with a professional level of service requires the following systems and capabilities:
Student Information Systems – Required to maintain students records of attendance and transcripts as a State requirement for private schools. This is the inglorious part of running your school, its a back end system that is essential to your operation. The efficiency of your student information system will drive your operational costs.
Transcript Articulation and Archiving – When students come to your school, they will have taken classes at other institutions, your school will need to request their transcript and asses which credit will be given. Schools are required to retain transcripts over a period of time. Students will also needs those transcripts sent to other institutions.
Billing – A private school needs to bill parents for students, and in today’s world this means online billing.
Programming and Class Enrollment – Schools need to develop their course catalog and a method of enrolling students in specific classes. Sometimes schools would like to provide flexibility and need to manage student choice in classes. If student choice in classes is provided, schools need to ensure students are taking all the state-required classes.
University of California Approved Courses – California high schools submit their class syllabi to the University of California for approval. If the courses are not listed in the UC database, students may not use those courses for direct admission to the State of California or University of California systems. Alternate pathways exist which include the full battery of SAT subject level testing.
National Collegiate Athletic Association Approved Courses – High schools submit their course catalog and selected syllabi to the NCAA for approval, and also include work samples for approval. If the courses a high school student takes are not listed in the NCAA database, the student may not play college sports. There are no alternate pathways.
Accreditation – In our journey, we found accreditation for K8 to be less critical, but for high school, accreditation is essential. Schools in California (and many other states) may indeed legally operate without accreditation, but there are some less obvious reasons why accreditation is essential for any private high school. Accreditation is a multi-year process, the outcome is not guaranteed for the start-up high school.
Public schools are not required to accept high school transcripts from private, unaccredited high schools. If your students want to transfer to public school for some reason, that school has the option of not accepting work completed at your private school.
Accreditation is required in order to seek University of California approval of your courses, sometimes called “a-g approval.’ Without a-g approval on each course, students may not meet requirements for direct admission to any California four-year public university.
Accreditation is required to certify classes for the NCAA. If students do not take NCAA approved classes, then they will not be able to play College sports.
Accreditation is required to certify a student’s GPA for financial aid. With out the GPA certification, students do not qualify for financial aid. This requirement affects students using financial aid at the community college level. The only other alternate pathway is achieve a minimum score on SAT or ACT exams.
Without an Accreditation, high schools are limiting student choice. That is not to say that alternative pathways don’t exist, but there is no doubt that unaccredited schools put roadblocks in front of students. Most 9th graders do not know exactly what pathway they will take after high school, and the last thing a high school wants is to limit a student’s future.
Assignments – Not long after your school launches, parents are going to ask teachers to be clear on which assignments a student has completed. Schools will need to develop an approach to assignment tracking, as well as a means of communicating student progress to parents.
Assessment – While many schools desire to start out with a reduced focus on testing, and it may be true that public schools have gone to far on test prep, at some point your parents are going to want to measure student advancement. Assessment strategies and testing platforms will need to be identified and implemented.
Curriculum – Most school start-up teams are focused on the curriculum since this part of the school makes the biggest impact on learning. The curriculum selected will also drive your ability to get a-g and NCAA approvals on your courses. In addition, there is the issue as to whether the curriculum meets State standards. These standards are not required to be followed by private schools, but may be required for a-g and NCAA approvals.
Teachers – Certainly not least, your school will need to hire qualified teachers for all the different subjects and grade levels. Teacher certification is not required for California Private schools, but teacher qualifications and certifications may be scrutinized by accrediting agencies, NCAA, or a-g approvals. Schools will need to ensure that qualified teachers are teaching the classes they are qualified for.
If you are interested in making the journey, Studia Nova offers consulting packages and technology platforms to speed you on your way. Contact us at email@example.com.