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
- High school – Grade 9 to 12
Anyone planning a move to the River City with children will need to factor in schooling options when making decisions on whereabouts they’d like to live. The Duval County Schools District is one of the largest in the USA and with over a hundred schools to choose from, making a decision can be difficult.
Factors to consider when picking a school in Jax 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. That said, public school admission does depend somewhat 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 River City boasts some of the USA’s top-performing public education institutions.
Jax is also home to a number of charter schools. These are a sub-set of public schools that are overseen by outside bodies. Although they do have more freedom in terms of teaching methodology and admissions, these schools remain accountable to Duval County.
Each of these institutions will have a charter which details the school's operations, programme, goals and methods of assessment. Some charter schools serve particular populations or students that are struggling in a traditional learning environment whereas others follow a particular instructional theme.
While charter schools tend to be more flexible when it comes to catchment areas, those that choose to pursue this option should still factor in proximity when deciding where to live as Jax is a huge city and long daily commutes have the potential to hamper a student's learning experience.
Jacksonville also boasts over 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 like the performing arts, languages, sports or the STEM subjects (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 with 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 Jax 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, textbooks, extra-curricular pursuits and field trips. For those that don’t live close to the private school of their choice, many of these institutions also 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.
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 Jax have special programmes in place to support students with learning difficulties. 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 the child’s school or other parents in the area for a recommendation. Alternatively, one could utilise the services of established tutoring services. These companies offer an array of packages from subject-specific intensive programmes to one-to-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.
►For an overview of popular neighbourhoods in the River City have a read of Areas and Suburbs of 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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