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Parent Resources

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The NAIS is a nonprofit membership association that provides services to more than 1,800 schools and associations of schools in the United States and abroad, including more than 1,500 independent private K-12 schools in the U.S. They have a wonderful school search tool and Financial Aid Estimators as well as articles and information on the latest trends in independent schools.

With 200 member schools, AISNE is one of the largest regional associations in the country and represents a diverse range of schools in terms of size, pedagogy, religious affiliation, and, of course, mission in the New England area. the AISNE website offers a school search tool, information about the school accreditation process, and forms needed for the Admission process at AISNE member schools.

NCGS serves over 260 PK-12 all-girl schools (independent, public, charter, religiously-affiliated, and boarding/day) around the world by providing networking, research, professional development, and advocacy programs focused on girls’ learning and healthy development. Their website offers quality research about an all girl's education as well as a search function for member schools.

The IBSC is a nonprofit organization of schools dedicated to the education and development of boys worldwide, the professional growth of those who work with them, and the advocacy and advancement of institutions that support boys. The IBSC website includes lists of member schools as well research on a boys' school education.

The ISEE is a standardized test accepted by over 1,200 independent schools around the world, for students in Grades 2-12. They offer several testing options including online, paper-based, and at-home administrations.

The SSAT is a standardized test focused on verbal, math, and reading skills. Many schools require the SSAT as part of their admission process. Students have multiple ways throughout the year to take the SSAT.

This ETS web site offers links to register for several types of tests, but most commonly the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and the SLEP (Secondary Level English Proficiency exam).

In order to apply for Financial aid, most AISNE member schools will require parents to complete the Parents’ Financial Statement (PFS), online in the SSS Family Portal. The PFS gathers relevant information about your family size, income, and expenses then SSS estimates the amount you can contribute to school expenses and forwards that estimate to the schools to which you are applying. Schools use this estimate as a starting point to determine the actual financial aid grant they can offer you.

The Association of Boarding Schools serves college-preparatory boarding schools in the United States, Canada, and around the globe. The Association leads a domestic and international effort to promote awareness and understanding of boarding schools and to expand the applicant pool for member institutions. The site offers a search engine based on a number of different criteria. They also offer in depth information on all member schools.

The SBSA forum exists for personal and professional dialogue amongst organization members, which promotes and supports small boarding schools. The website includes an excellent list of smaller boarding schools around the country.

Junior Boarding Schools are independent elementary and middle schools with a boarding program for middle school students. All JBSA member schools are located in New England and New York.

The Catholic Schools Office of The Archdiocese of Boston is an excellent resource for parents looking for a Catholic school in the Boston Area.

The NATSAP website serves as a resource of information about it's various members, which include: therapeutic schools, residential treatment programs, wilderness programs, outdoor therapeutic programs, young adult programs and home-based residential programs working with struggling teens and troubled adolescents.

Ravenna HUB is designed to assist families applying to preschool through 12th grade at both private and independent schools in cities across the country. You can manage the entire application process for your student(s), for as many Ravenna schools as you choose, from one central location. Submit application materials, register for events, track your application status, and view decisions all from Ravenna.

The Standard Application Online (SAO) is a free service provided by The Enrollment Management Association to member schools, in which students, seeking to enter grades from pre-kindergarten to post-graduate, submit their information, essays, transcripts, and recommendations just once, online, to apply to as many of the nearly 500 member schools that accept it as they like.

Glossary of Terms

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Boarding School

Boarding schools are residential private schools, which means students live at school during the academic year. They resemble colleges in that students live in dorms or residence halls, but they primarily serve secondary school students. Some boarding schools have a mixture of day and boarding students and some allow students to return home on weekends.

Charter School

Charter schools are free to adopt their preferred curriculum focus. They are guided by a contract that gives them autonomy from many of the regulations overseeing traditional public schools. Charter schools are free for all students to attend. There is some debate, however, on whether charter schools should be classified as private or state-run. While they do operate independently of the state-mandated curriculum, they do receive state funding. They also don’t have to answer to a school board and may not participate in state standardized testing. Schools must, however, meet the standards outlined in their charter in order to receive funding.

Cooperative Preschool

A cooperative preschool is organized by a group of families with similar philosophies who hire a trained teacher (or teachers) to provide their children with a quality preschool experience. The preschool is administered and maintained by the parents, sometimes with the daily management of a Preschool Director. Typically, the parents assist the professional teachers in the classroom on a rotating basis and participate in the classroom. Each family shares in the business operation of the school (usually a nonprofit venture), thus making it truly a cooperative venture.

Dual Language

Dual language programs use the partner language for at least half of the instructional day in the elementary years. These programs generally start in kindergarten or first grade and extend for at least five years, and many continue into middle school and high school.

Independent School

An independent school is considered private, but is run by a board of governors or trustees that is independent (hence the name) of any other entities. Often used interchangeably with "Private School", the two terms differ. Please see also "Private School".

Flex Testing

A Flex SSAT is given to an individual or group on any date other than the scheduled dates. After taking a Flex test, any additional SSATs you take in the same testing year must be Standard tests. Flex tests may be given by member schools or approved educational consultants.

Magnet School

Magnet schools cater to particular interests and provide parents with choices for their children's education within the public school system. These school create a curriculum focused in a certain area, such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), fine and performing arts, International Baccalaureate, career and technical education, or language immersion. Magnet schools are subject to the regulations and guidelines of a particular school district or group of districts. Like public schools, magnet schools are free to attend.

Montessori School

Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the highly trained teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process.

Nature Based Education

Nature-based education, typically for younger children, is where learning occurs in the context of nature. In these programs, nature is at the core of the curriculum, there is extensive daily outdoor time over the course of a school year.  Students are taught standard educational practices as well as high quality environmental education practices.

Parochial School

A parochial school is a private school affiliated with a religious entity. In many cases, that entity is a church. Frequently that church is Catholic, although sometimes it’s not.The term “parochial” is rooted in the word “parish,” so typically the term “parochial school” references a Christian, and more specifically, Catholic, organization. However, all Catholic schools are not necessarily parochial schools.

Private School

A private school can be run by a for-profit company, a non-profit company, or a church or diocese or some other non-governmental organization. Often used interchangeably with "Independent School", the two terms differ. Please see also "Independent School".

Progressive Education

Progressive education is a response to traditional methods of teaching. It is defined as an educational movement which gives more value to experience than formal learning. It is based more on experiential learning that concentrate on the development of a child's talents.

Ranked Waitlist

A ranked waitlist is ordered so that the applicant at the top of the list is offered the first spot that opens up, and the school moves down the list to the next person when another place becomes available.


Ravenna is a website designed to assist families applying to preschool through 12th grade at both private and independent schools in cities across the country. The site allows you to manage the entire application process for your student(s), for as many Ravenna schools as you choose, from one central location. You can submit application materials, register for events, track your application status, and view decisions all from Ravenna.


Redshirting is the practice of postponing entrance into kindergarten of age-eligible children in order to allow extra time for socioemotional, intellectual, or physical growth.


After a student has been enrolled at a school, the family generally will receive a contract to enroll again the following year. Each school determines its own re-enrollment contract due date for returning students.

Reggio Emilia

The Reggio Emilia approach believes that parents and the wider community have collective responsibility of children. It is an inclusive, village-style approach that engages children, parents and the community as all being essential components to the learning process

Rolling Admissions

Schools with rolling admissions evaluate applications as they are received versus waiting to evaluate all applications after a hard deadline. Schools will continue to evaluate applications until they’ve filled all the slots for their incoming class.

Traditional Education

Traditional education, also known as back-to-basics, conventional education or customary education, refers to long-established customs that society traditionally used in schools. The chief business of traditional education is to transmit to a next generation those skills, facts, and standards of moral and social conduct that adults consider to be necessary for the next generation's material and social success. Teachers are the instruments by which this knowledge is communicated and standards of behavior are enforced.

Tuition Insurance

Tuition Refund Insurance is offered to provide families the opportunity to protect their tuition investment in independent schools. The program refunds a portion of the unused annual tuition and insured fees when students are withdrawn or dismissed for covered reasons.

Wait Pool / Unranked Waitlist

Qualified applicants for whom the school cannot immediately offer a space are placed in a waiting pool or remain on the wait list. Waiting pools/lists remain active through the notification period, and candidates are considered for acceptance if a space becomes available. Some schools keep their waiting pools/lists active throughout the school year, while others deactivate the pool/list once the school year has begun. You may need to notify the school if you wish to remain in their waiting pool or to be removed.

Waldorf Education

In Waldorf Education, the learning process is essentially threefold, engaging head, heart, and hands—or thinking, feeling, and doing. This is the basis out of which Waldorf teachers work to nurture and engage each child through a curriculum and methodology that integrates academics, arts, and practical skills. Waldorf schools tend to avoid the use of technology because of the insistence that young children make contact with real people and real environments in order to build a base of real experience.


Financial Aid

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Applying For Financial Aid In The Admission Process

Every school has their own process of applying for and determining aid money. An early understanding of the unique processes at the schools to which you want to apply will benefit you with your various aid applications.


Most independent schools in the Boston area require you to complete some type of financial information form when applying for aid, whether it be on Clarity or the Parents’ Financial Statement (PFS) through School and Student Services (SSS). Both Clarity and SSS are independent services that analyzes family finances and estimating contributions to tuition-based schools. 


Be aware of application and financial aid deadlines at each school, as they may differ. Some schools use your Financial Aid Application as part of their decision making process; this practice is referred to as being “need aware.” Other schools make admission decisions first and then consider the needs of accepted students, allocating the available monies accordingly. 

Keep in mind: 

  • Financial Aid deadlines that are missed will affect your possibility of receiving aid. 

  • Parents who are divorced, separated, or remarried are all required to submit financial information per each household. 

  • Schools often take into account additional factors, such as the number of children in tuition-charging schools, the age of both parents, the number of dependents, and any unusual circumstances affecting your family's financial status, when determining awards. 

  • Schools often look to increase their socioeconomic diversity, so even if your family may not qualify for a full tuition grant, it is still worth applying for a partial grant.

  • Aid awards often include a stipend for supplemental educational expenses such as trips, technology, after school care, books, and music lessons.

  • Families need to reapply annually for Financial Aid. Schools are committed to providing the same level of aid each year unless your financial circumstances change significantly.


LVEC recommends that parents be as honest as possible in completing these forms and in conversations with the admission representatives. The more a school knows about your unique circumstances, the more likely they are to advocate on your behalf.

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