As you examine your options for secondary education, you may want to seek the answers to some of the following questions which are standard measures of strong independent institutions. We have taken the liberty of answering for Burroughs.
What is the average tenure and experience of the faculty?
JBS: In the 2012-13 school year, the average number of years teaching is more than 20.4 years, 13.1 years at Burroughs.
What is your student:teacher ratio?
JBS: Our ratio is 7.0:1.
What is your average class size?
JBS: Our average classroom size is 13. (NOTE: This is an instructional unit, not a grade level.)
How much tuition aid is available, and how is it disbursed?
JBS: More than 20 percent of our students receive tuition aid annually in the form of grants and loans. The average award covers nearly 70 percent of tuition. Our aid budget currently is $2,034,000. Awards are made separate from (that is, after) admissions decisions.
How many students annually leave the school?
JBS: Burroughs’ rate of attrition averages less than 2 percent.
How well do students perform on standard national examinations?
JBS: Twenty-one members of the Class of 2012 were named National Merit/Achievement Semifinalists, and another 16 received letters of commendation. For the past eleven years, Burroughs has had the highest percentage of semifinalists in the State of Missouri. The median SAT scores for the Class of 2012 were 710 on math, 690 on writing and 680 on critical reading. The median ACT score for the Class of 2012 was 32.
What colleges and universities do they attend? (And be careful on this one: The question is where they actually attend. Some schools list all of the colleges and universities to which a given senior class was admitted. One or two exceptional students can skew the profile, misleading the casual observer.)
JBS: The top college choices among Burroughs seniors for the past ten years are, in descending order, Washington University, Harvard College, Indiana University, University of Missouri,Tufts University, Vanderbilt University, Yale University, Miami University (OH), University of Miami (FL), Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania and Duke University. But let us add right away, that our goal is to find the right match for our students, and, on average, members of any senior class head to 50 to 60 schools nationwide.
Does the school have a strong endowment?
JBS: As of May 31, 2012, Burroughs’ endowment stood at $37,189,065 or nearly $62,000 per student. The endowment supports tuition aid, faculty professional development and our annual operating budget.
What are the average rates of parent and alumni giving? (If you are new to the independent school world, this may seem like a strange barometer. But actually, what better measure of parent satisfaction and alumni loyalty than voluntary giving? This money is dedicated to the school’s annual operating budget, helping to moderate tuition increases.)
JBS: In the 2011-12 school year, parents participated in our annual giving program at a rate of 95 percent, and alumni at 33 percent.
What are your students’ involvements beyond the classroom?
JBS: One hundred percent of Burroughs students participate in some aspect of our arts program, many in multiple areas. In the current school year, 87 percent of our students are engaged in the visual arts (painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, photography), 57 percent in music (chorus, jazz band, orchestra), 53 percent in theatre, speech or debate and 65 percent in the practical arts (web design, computer programming, robotics, CAD, woodworking, video editing, architectural drawing, sewing, cooking). They are also involved in more than four dozen student activities and clubs, ranging from traditional student government and publications to particular student interests such as chess, film, cheerleading, and so forth. Hallmark activities include our 37-year-old community service program, 16-year-old diversity and global awareness initiatives, 39–year-old outdoor education program and 26-year-old participation in The Hague International Model United Nations.