Education and Schools in Houston
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Given its size, there's no shortage of options when it comes to education in Houston. There are several school districts in the Greater Houston area which contain numerous public and private schools.
With so many choices, expat parents will need to carefully evaluate their priorities before choosing a school – including their budget, the proximity of the school from home and the workplace, the curriculum they would like their child to learn, and the kind of teaching environment that's best for their child.
Public schools in Houston
The greatest perk of public schools in Houston is that the Texas education system doesn't charge tuition, and expats and locals alike can take advantage of it – but that doesn’t mean parents shouldn't do preliminary research. Even though all public schools teach a state-mandated curriculum, the standard of each institution can vary immensely.
Some districts are consistently associated with high standards, while others aren't. Since students attend schools based on attendance zones, it’s important for parents to consider the quality of an area's schools when looking for accommodation in Houston.
To determine the standard of educational facilities in a district, parents can consult Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) reports, which evaluates school districts and individual schools. After selecting a few schools that seem to fit the bill, it’s always a good idea to visit them in person, preferably during school hours, and meet with an administrator to learn a little more about them.
Charter schools and magnet schools
The public school system in Houston also includes charter schools and magnet schools. Charter schools receive state funding and uphold the state curriculum, but tend to be more innovative and flexible than traditional public schools. Magnet schools also use state funding, but typically have specialised curricula. They're associated with high achievement and cultural diversity.
Both are good options for parents looking for an affordable but elevated standard of education for their children. That said, admission can be competitive and waiting lists can be long – lottery systems are often used to confirm enrolment.
Private and international schools in Houston
As in most destinations, private schools in Houston are assumed to provide a wider array of extra-curricular activities, better facilities, smaller student-to-teacher ratios, and a higher level of instruction.
Private schooling is a broad category that includes international schools, religious schools and alternative-learning schools like Montessori. Some schools uphold the state curriculum, while others follow foreign curricula or offer the International Baccalaureate.
These schools charge tuition and, in the case of international schools, fees can be steep. Parents should also apply as early as possible, since the best schools usually have long waiting lists.