For as many wonderful public schools that exist, there are also those that perform under the bar. Unfortunately for most families, children must go to the public school that their home is zoned in. Usually there is a perceived or statistically supported issue with a public school's academic record that flags a parent's concern and willingness to move their child into a private school.
Private schools usually have a more rigorous academic reputation. But within the public school system, Charter Schools and Magnet schools both blur the distinction between public and private schools. Related to the academic reputation is the focus of the school on college preparation. Within the public school system, the percent of children that go on to college differs depending on the location of the school. You can't lump all the schools together. However, you can look at the school's overall focus and whether it is on college preparation or not (and whether that is your shared focus).
School Size and Class Size can be correlated to a school's ability to execute on its academic goals. Basically, when a school gets too big, it can become burdensome to administer. Students and programs may fall into the cracks. But a school that is too small may not have enough money to support specialized programs. Class size is another factor that parents will look into when considering private or public school. How many children will the classroom teacher be responsible What is the overall student to teacher ratio Usually, the smaller the class size, the more attention each individual student will receive.
Safety at school and the general school environment is another factor that parents use to decide whether or not to keep their children in public school or move them into private school. Many public schools have perfectly safe environments, yet in some school districts, children may be safer in private schools. Some of this may have to do with the fact that private schools may pick and choose who they enroll, therefore keeping their classroom milieu safer.
Special programs impact parents in two different ways when considering private versus public schooling. Because public schools have a responsibility to teach all students, public schools often have in place special programs for children with special needs (whether it is academically or mentally). Private schools, while they may have special programs for gifted students, will rarely have programs for children with special needs unless that is what the private school specializes in. There are also other kinds of special programs, for example, ones that specialize in the arts. Military, boarding, and single-sex programs are usually only found in a private setting.
Cost is another important factor that impacts the private school versus public school decision. Simply put, private schools charge tuition whereas public schools are