My son just graduated from eighth grade. He does well academically, loves the school, and his teachers love him. We have the choice of keeping him in this small school or moving him to a private all-boys' high school that is more challenging academically. Should we consider academics over the fact that he is so happy where he is? He is willing to try the new school, although he doesn't want to leave his friends.
Your son feels comfortable at his school. He is doing well and has friends. It's certainly easy to see why he would be reluctant to leave this very favorable environment. Plus, smaller schools give students a greater sense of belonging, the opportunity to really know their teachers and classmates, smaller classes, and a greater chance to shine in extracurricular activities. While children may feel more anonymous at larger schools, the curriculum is usually broader and offers more opportunity to take advanced classes such as calculus and advanced placement English. Your son may thrive extremely well in the larger school. Do help him become acquainted with all this school has to offer before any decision is made.
Your son should have a great deal of input in this decision as both schools are probably good choices, and you want him to be happy at the high school he attends. Together, you should consider the following points as well as the real benefits each high school would offer him:
1. Compare the curriculums of both schools. Make sure that both offer the core curriculum of four years of mathematics, three years of social studies, three years of foreign language, and 1/2 year of computer science recommended by the National Commission on Excellence in Education.
2. Ask both schools for information on where their graduates attend college to get a good picture of how well each school prepares students for college.
3. Look at the results for each school on standardized tests and the SAT to see if there is a substantial difference in the students' average scores.