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Shared Goals Found Hallmark Of Exemplary Private Schools

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The principal characteristic common to the 60 private schools recognized as exemplary by the U.S. Education Department last summer was the sharing of goals among administrators, teachers, and students, the Council for American Private Education reports.

The private schools recognized also had in common a commitment to guide the moral development of each student, to train students to think independently, and to develop their staff members, according to a report issued by the council last month.

The Education Department's first annual "Exemplary Private School Recognition Project," which was administered by cape, was designed to locate "distinguished schools that are doing an exceptionally fine job, so we can focus attention on what they are doing that is right," said Terrel H. Bell, secretary of education, in announcing the national awards.

The private-school-recognition program will be conducted from now on in conjunction with the department's "Secondary School Recognition Program" for public schools. The recipients of this year's awards were honored at a ceremony in Washington last August. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984.)

Common Goals

The development of intellect and character are the two primary goals of the exemplary private schools, according to the cape study. "The common theme found in their statements is their determination to address the needs of the whole child: intellectual, moral, spiritual, physical, esthetic, and cultural," the report states.

The analysis of the schools' characteristics also revealed "a marked consonance between each school's stated philosophy and the reality of its day-to-day functioning."

In general, the schools make a point of enrolling an academically, economically, and intellectually diverse student population, the analysis found. But while the schools provide a curriculum for that population, they do not adjust "character-development" goals.

"All students are encouraged to develop independence of thought, critical thinking, self-respect, self-discipline, sensitivity to others, and a healthy respect for individual differences," according to the report.

Staff Development

All of the private schools honored, even those with the smallest resources, provide inservice programs throughout the year for their staff members, the study found.

Two-thirds of the schools provide some financial assistance for outside study and workshops.

About one-third of the schools recognize excellence by providing merit pay, grants, long-term contracts, or master-teacher status, and the schools that provided such incentives reported a low staff-turnover rate.

The cape analysis of the exemplary schools also found that:

All of the schools offer financial aid to needy students; 20 of the schools allot more than 10 percent of their annual budgets to such aid.

Eighteen of the schools have a minority enrollment of more than 20 percent.

About 50 percent of the schools are in urban areas; 37 percent are in suburban areas; and 13 percent are in rural areas.

More than one-third of the schools have an enrollment of fewer than 500 students.--cc

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