In line with the US standard, the schooling system in Jacksonville is split between three levels: elementary school – Kindergarten to Grade 5; middle school – Grade 6 to Grade 8; and high school – Grade 9 to 12.
Anyone planning a move to Jacksonville with children will need to factor in schooling options when deciding which area or suburb they’d like to live in. The Duval County Schools District is one of the largest in the US and, with more than a hundred schools to choose from, deciding on a school can be difficult.
Factors to consider when picking a school in Jacksonville include the type of school, the standard of teaching, the cost of tuition fees, extra-curricular activities and proximity.
Public schools in Jacksonville
The Duval County School Board (DCSB), one of the largest school districts in the state of Florida, is the authority that oversees public schools in Jacksonville. Residents of Jacksonville can have their children attend a public school at little to no cost. Public school admission is based on catchment areas, which is something worth bearing in mind when deciding on where in the city to put down roots.
As is the case in most US cities, the standard of public schools varies quite dramatically. Some public schools are excellent and provide a standard of education that falls in line with those at fee-paying private schools. On the other hand, there are also failing schools that suffer from underfunding and staff shortages. In general, though, the standard of public school education is Jacksonville is fairly good and the city boasts some of the USA’s top-performing public education institutions.
Jacksonville is home to around 30 charter schools. These are a subset of public schools that are overseen by outside bodies. While charter schools teach the same curriculum as standard public schools, they have more freedom in teaching style and methodology.
Each of these institutions will have a charter that details the school's operations, programme, goals and methods of assessment. While catchment areas don't apply to charter schools, proximity to home should still be factored in as Jacksonville is a huge city and long daily commutes have the potential to hamper a student's learning experience.
Jacksonville also boasts more than 50 magnet schools. Like charter schools these are state-funded to a great extent, but because they do receive an element of external funding, magnet schools have more autonomy when it comes to shaping their curriculum. The advantage of these schools is that they allow students to pursue a more vocational pathway in accordance with individual strengths.
Magnet schools generally focus on a particular area such as the performing arts, languages, sports or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
Private schools in Jacksonville
There are a fair few private schools in Jacksonville, many of which have a religious affiliation, mostly Roman Catholic or Christian faiths. Generally speaking, these schools offer a higher standard of teaching and better facilities than the average public school. They also offer more advanced placement and honours programmes for academically gifted students, as well as sports, music and arts programmes for children that show an aptitude in those areas.
The downside to private education is the cost. Parents who choose to send their kids to a private school in Jacksonville should be prepared to fork out a small fortune in terms of tuition fees. On top of that, they’ll need to factor in other expenses such as the cost of uniforms, school transport, textbooks, extra-curricular pursuits and field trips. For those who don’t live close to the private school of their choice, many offer boarding options at an additional fee.
International schools in Jacksonville
Unfortunately for foreigners moving to Jacksonville, there are no schools in the city that follow the national curricula of other countries. Those who are intent on having their child continue studying the curriculum of their home country in order to maintain a degree of stability can explore options in wider Florida, where there are a small number of international schools that do provide boarding facilities for their students
Another option that internationally-minded families might want to look into are the International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes offered at a small number of Jacksonville public and private schools. The IB is highly respected and easily transferable, since it is taught all over the world.
Special-needs education in Jacksonville
Jacksonville’s education system is well equipped to provide for students with learning and developmental disabilities. There are multiple federal and state laws in place to ensure that children with disabilities have fair access to quality education at no cost.
Both public and private schools in Jacksonville have special programmes in place to support students with learning difficulties. In most cases, the goal is to successfully integrate the special-needs student into mainstream schooling. However, in cases where a person’s disability is too severe for them to benefit from mainstream education, there are also several special education facilities that are able to offer students with special needs a programme tailored to meet their specific requirements.
Tutors in Jacksonville
Whether a child has fallen behind in maths class or is in need of additional support to excel in their college entrance exams, there are plenty of private tutors on hand to help in Jacksonville.
It’s wise to start by asking one's school and other parents in the area for a recommendation. There are also established tutoring services, which offer an array of packages from subject-specific intensive programmes to one-on-one home tuition and small group sessions.
Enlisting the services of a private tutor is an excellent opportunity for students to address any gaps in their knowledge, excel at a certain subject, or simply build confidence in their own abilities. Expat children whose first language isn't English can also benefit from a tutor to help them hone their English-language skills.
►For an overview of popular neighbourhoods in the River City have a read of Areas and Suburbs in Jacksonville
Are you an expat living in Jacksonville?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Jacksonville. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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