How Does Private School Differ From Public School?


Parents will settle for nothing less than the best in their children’s education. Taking the time to explore all the options will help you find the best fit for your young scholar.

You may find each school or institution you look at—online, brick-and-mortar, public, private—has a little bit of this, but not enough of that. The search for the perfect educational fit may come down to the differences in how schools operate.

Public School vs Private School

We understand, and we want to help your journey by offering some basic information that helps at the beginning of the search. Let’s start at square one.

What are the key differences between public schools and private schools? 

Let’s dive into some pros and cons.

Difference 1: Admissions

Public school programs are designed to educate large numbers of children at different academic and developmental levels with varying strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. Public schools provide access to education for all children; no application process is required.

Many private schools have an academic threshold that prospective students must meet for consideration and/or acceptance. The admissions process might include interviews, assessments and testing, essays, and thorough examination of scholarly history and goals. Students may or may not be admitted based on any one private school’s application process.

Difference 2: Tuition and cost

Public school is tuition-free. You won’t be cutting checks to a school or district for educational services because public institutions are funded by taxpayers. Public schools can, and do, charge fees for participation in certain activities and in many cases, public schools may ask families to provide supplies for thier student or for the community of students.

It is commonly believed private schools do not receive government funding. In some cases this is true. The answer gets more complicated as you more closely consider federal vs. state education dollars and the current efforts of state lawmakers to finalize legislation allowing public education money to be used by private institutions. Currently, however, we can say public funding typically does not pay the tuition for the majority of private school students.

As a result, private schooling is funded by tuition, which can range greatly in cost depending on the type of school. The average annual tuition for nonsectarian private schools in the US is $25k. While education is considered an investment in your child’s future, it’s worthwhile to look into tuition discounts, bundles, and payment plans offered when considering affordability.  

Difference 3: The educators

Highly-qualified professionals in education are certainly considered the standard in both private and public school settings. Public schools in the U.S. are guided by state requirements related to minimum qualifications for certification and licensure, as well as professional development once hired.

Private schools, as well, are guided by state regulations, but they may differ from those of public schools. State certification may not be required, and certification from other organizations may be accepted.  For instance, in the state of Texas, teachers in private school settings are not required to hold a certification, but they must meet the definition of “highly qualified” as defined by an accrediting body. A private school may be more rigorous in its recruitment and only hire the most highly-qualified teachers with the most advanced degrees.

Difference 4: Curriculum

The curriculum is a leading reason parents choose private schooling over public options. They are worried about the quality or nature of what their children are being taught in public schools, or they know their student needs something more rigorous or flexible.

Because public schools make use of tax dollars to educate their students, their curricula are restricted and regulated by state and federal education agencies. Public school administrators and teachers are subject to governance by their district officials, board of directors, and pre-established policies and procedures. Expansion, elimination, or introduction of subjects is not something decided at will by public school faculty or parents—so parents who want to play a role in refining their children’s education have little say. Parent concerns about emerging education concepts likely have little to no impact on whether those concepts are implemented in a public school setting.

Freedom from public funding means the ability to either adhere to or disregard public regulations of education. Private schools face no obligation to adhere to the mandates that apply to others, whether in operations, curricula, or funding. 

Research your options and consider your education goals

One realization you are sure to have after taking the time to view both public and private school options is that a system designed to serve all may or may not be the best fit for your student. What matters is you have choices. Find an opportunity that best aligns with your goals for your child’s education. 

Laurel Springs School is an accredited, private online school—what would your student’s education look like here? Reserve a spot in one of our upcoming virtual open house events to find out.