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作者 Shirley Z.
published at: 2020-04-28

Comparing US Public and Private Schools, from Elementary to High School


Let’s talk a bit about the American school system. Most public school systems begin admitting students when they reach 5 years old. Where your child goes is based on age and residence. Tuition is free, all the way through high school graduation. There are 12 years in total, with 6 spent in elementary school, 3 spent in middle school, and 3 spent in high school.

先来说一下美国的学校制度。一般公立学校系统从孩子5周岁开始,可以按照年龄和居住地免费入学,一直到高中毕业。大概有12年的时间,其中 elementary school (小学) 6年,middle school (中学) 3年,high school (高中) 3年。

This is extremely similar to China. For children below the age of 5, there is no public daycare to choose from. Preschool, or daycare is similar to China’s You’er Yuan (Preschool). They are usually privately run, parents need to pay tuition, and they are considered to be the beginning of the private school process. When children get to the age where they can go to elementary school, many parents will begin to consider whether to send them to a public or private institution.

这个和中国非常相似。5周岁以下的孩子,如果需要托管,没有公立学校的选择。preshcool 或者daycare,就像国内的幼儿园,一般由私人经营,家长自费,算是private school的开始。当孩子到了上小学的年龄时,很多家长就会开始考虑给孩子选择私校还是公校。

Price (费用)           

When talking about public and private schools, the first thing most people think of is price.


The money for public schools comes from local taxes. Families do not need to pay tuition, but they still need to cover expenses for things like book rentals and meals. Even so, the price for these is usually not too high. If a family is unable to pay these extra fees, the school can choose to waive book rental and meal fees. As for private schools, according to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average annual tuition is $10,740. According to the quality of the school, that price could range anywhere from $5,330 to $25,180. For example, Catholic schools have the lowest annual tuition fee, with an average of $6,890, while secular private schools have an average tuition of $21,510.

公立学校的经费是来自于当地的税收。家庭是不需要付学费的,但是像书本费( book rental fee) ,餐饮费等等,还是需要家长自付的,但是费用一般不会太高。如果有的家庭实在无法承担,甚至连书本费和餐饮费都可以减免。 私立学校方面,根据National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)的报告,一年的平均学费是$10,740。 根据学校性质学费从$5,330 to $25,180不等。比如天主教私立学校一年的学费最低,平均在$6,890 左右,而非宗派学校一年的学费是$21,510。

Teachers (教师)           

Public School vs. Private School: Teachers

This is one place where public schools have an advantage over private schools. The percentage of new teachers (less than four years of teaching experience) is higher in private schools, at 16 percent, compared with public schools, where it is at 11 percent. This is due to higher salaries and better benefits packages, so teachers tend to gravitate toward public schools. It is common for teachers to move to public schools after attaining a certain degree of experience. 48% of public school teachers have their Masters, while only 36% of private schools teachers do. Additionally, public school teachers have more opportunities to attend training and classes to improve their professional skills.

在师资力量上,公立学校是占有优势的。据调查,在私立学校的新老师(教龄少于四年)比例一般是16%,要高于公立学校的11%。 原因是,公立学校老师的工资更高,福利更好,很多私立学校的年轻老师在拥有相当的教龄之后,就转到了公立学校。公立学校的老师,拥有硕士以上文凭的比例是48%,而私立学校这个比例是36%。 而且,公立学校的老师每年都有更多的机会参加提升专业技能的课程或者培训。

Class (班级)           

Public School vs. Private School: Class Sizes

The difference between public and private school class size and student-to-teacher ratios is considerable. According to the report by NCES, the average class size in public schools is 25 kids, compared to 19 kids per class in private schools. Correspondingly, private schools have a better student-to-teacher ratio of 12.2 students, compared to 16.1 students per teacher in public schools.

公立学校和私立学校,老师和学生的比例是不同的。根据NCES的报告,公立学校一个教室一般25个学生,而私立学校一般19个学生。这种差别也相应的体现在私校和公校的师生比例上。一般私校的师生比例是1:12, 而公校是1:16.

Programme (课程)           

Public School vs. Private School: Classes&Programme

The money for private schools usually comes from student tuition, alumni donations, donations from charity organizations, and from the community. In short, their money usually does not come from the government, so they are not restricted to the standard curriculum, and can offer a curriculum that suits the focus of individual students. If you have a child that wants to study the arts, theater, music, or other such subjects, a private school will be a better fit. Public schools get their funding through taxes, so curriculums are more regulated. Since students must participate in mandated testing. Public schools are more focused on the core classes, not often at the expense of more peripheral subjects. In high school, private schools do more to help prepare students for college, offering a greater choice in Advanced Placement (AP) courses, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) courses, and courses specifically designed for gifted students. There are also a lot of extracurricular opportunities.

私立学校的资金一般来源于学生的学费,校友的捐赠,慈善机构的补助以及社区等等,总之一般不会来自于政府,所以他们可以不受州政府的统一教学大纲的约束,可以为不同孩子提供更多样化的课程。如果您孩子将来要在绘画、艺术、音乐等方面发展,那么私立学校可能会是个更好的选择。而公立学校用的是纳税人的钱,所以课程设置方面和资金使用方面,会比较受限制。学生要参加统一的考试,所以每个孩子都要学习核心的科目,对于外围科目不多涉及。到了高中阶段,私立学校更注重于帮助孩子为大学做准备。提供选择广泛的大学先修课程 (Advanced Placement, 简称AP class)、国际文凭大学预科班课程 (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, 简称 IBDP ) 和资优班 (Gifted and Talented Education)。还有很多课外实践的机会。

Religion (宗教)           

Public School vs. Private School: Religion

Parents who want a religious values–based learning environment will need to seek out private schools. The separation of church and state is guaranteed by the Constitution, and that means local public schools can’t introduce religion into the classroom. A vast majority of private school students (79 percent) attend some form of a religiously affiliated school. A full 1.9 million kids are enrolled in Catholic institutions, making it the largest component of the private school industry. However, Catholic schools can also accept non-Catholic students. According to the National Catholic Educational Association, 18.4 percent of all the students enrolled in Catholic schools were non-Catholic, a number that has been steadily growing over the years. 

如果父母希望孩子在有宗教氛围的学校求学,那么私立学校就是唯一的选择,因为公立学校不能把任何有宗教倾向的内容渗透到课程中 。大部分(79%)的私立学校都与宗教相关, 大概有190万的孩子在天主教私立学校上学。但是,天主教派的私立学校也可以接纳非天主教信仰的学生。 比如, 大概有18.4%在天主教派私立学校上学的学生是非天主教信仰者,并且有稳步上升的趋势。

Test Scores (分数)           

Public School vs. Private School: Test Scores

A recent report on high school graduates showed private school students scoring 3.1 points higher on the ACT test. The same disparity is found between primary and middle schools, according to the NCES. A comparison of mathematics tests showed private schools scored 18 points higher for eighth graders and 8 points higher for fourth graders. Reading had the same results, with the private schools outscoring their public counterparts by 18 points in eighth grade and 15 points in fourth grade.

最近的一份报道显示,私立学校毕业的高中毕业生在ACT(American College Testing)考试中的成绩要比公立学校的高中毕业生平均高3.1分。在小学和初中阶段,这个优势也同样存在。根据NCES的统计数据,拿数学成绩来说,私立学校的8年级学生的考试成绩要比公立学校学生平均高18分,4年级高8分。阅读方面差距更加明显,私立学校的8年级学生的成绩比公立学校学生的平均成绩高18分,4年级高15分。

Diversity (多元化)           

Public School vs. Private School: Diversity

This presents a bit of a conundrum. Why is it that even though public school’s actually have the better teachers, that private schools still have higher test scores? The primary difference is in the classmates surrounding each student. The nation’s 33,600 private schools provide parents the ability to be more selective about the students that their child will spend their days with. Numerous studies have shown that private schools, on the whole, offer a more positive peer environment. Parents willing to pay the exorbitant tuitions for private education usually belong to a higher socio-economic class, and put a greater emphasis on their child’s education. Public schools are not allowed to pick and choose who attends. However, if your child has a disability of any kind, they likely require specialized education. In this case, public schools have teachers that have undergone specialized training and offer special curricula that can help disabled children. 

既然前面提到公立学校的老师其实比私立学校好,那为什么考试成绩方面却不如私立学校呢?最主要的原因是私立和公立在生源方面的差别。 全美33,600所私立学校,在选择生源方面有更多的自由,他们可以挑选学生,甚至对于进入该校学生原生家庭都有考量。许多的研究都表明, 孩子每天跟谁在一起很大程度上影响他的学业、品行、性格和兴趣爱好。私立学校在这一点上,更能给您的孩子营造一个积极向上的氛围。一般愿意给孩子付昂贵学费的父母,都来社会比较高的阶层 ,对于孩子的教育也比较重视。而公立学校一般是不能挑选学生的。但是从另一个方面来说,如果您的孩子是身体和智力处于劣势的个体,需要特殊教育。那么公立学校会有经过特殊训练的老师,以及特别的课程设计,帮助这些弱势群体学生。