Do Private Schools Take Standardized Tests?

Instructor: John Beard
Whether or not a particular private school uses standardized testing depends on several factors. Here, we will look at these factors and other things to consider when looking at private education options.

To Test Or Not To Test?

The easiest way to tell if a particular school uses standardized testing to assess the academic achievement of their students is to call them and find out. The regulations governing private schools vary widely from state to state. Some states, like South Dakota, require private schools to use the same tests that are used in the public system. Others, like Wisconsin, offer the public school tests as an option for private schools. There are also states, like South Carolina, which have no policy in effect at all. Finally, states like California explicitly ban the use of public testing resources by private schools.

The Testing Debate

Beyond the questions relating to the regulation of education by various states and localities is the debate about whether the use of standardized testing in education is a good or a bad thing. The arguments for the tests include accountability for schools and teachers, the ability to use the result of testing to compare student performance across school systems or geographic areas, and the objectivity of standardized testing.

Opponents of the tests point out that when a student is taught 'to the test,' the resulting education can lack creative flair, be devoid of any depth that goes beyond the basic skills measured, and foster a negative attitude about learning in a child that is bored by cookie-cutter curriculum. There is also a movement underway to replace current testing methods with advanced video game technology.

Other Considerations

Perhaps more fundamental than the question of standardized testing, is the question of a school's educational approach or philosophy. That there are many religious schools in operation around the country, each with their own ideas and methods, is well known. There are also military, Waldorf, Montessori, democratic, and other types of private schools. These institutions each follow different philosophies and, even within a category, each school is likely to be somewhat unique. Other valid measures of a school beyond testing include rates of graduation, college acceptance, and their dropout rate. All of these factors will need to be investigated on a school-by-school basis.

Standardized Test Prep

If you do need to take a standardized test, you'll want to spend some time studying for it. has a variety of test prep courses that you can use to help you review key topics and concepts before taking a test. Check out some of the options below:

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