Home to the renowned Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh values education highly. The quality of local public schools is high, with options including charter and magnet schools. There are also private schools that base their teaching on religious or alternative education methods.
Parents looking at schools in Pittsburgh will have to consider many factors, such as proximity to home and work, particular neighbourhoods, the specific educational needs of the child, and budgetary concerns.
Public schools in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh’s public schools generally have a good reputation, though naturally some outperform others. Since school attendance is assigned based on residential zones, it’s a good idea to do thorough research before deciding where to live. If unsure about a school, parents should check its Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) score, which measures reading, writing, mathematics and science achievements.
Charter and magnet schools
Like public schools, charter and magnet schools receive state funding. However, they are generally considered more culturally diverse, offering a more personalised educational approach. Charter schools follow the state curriculum but are self-managed, meaning they are typically more innovative and flexible in their teaching styles than traditional public schools. Magnet schools, on the other hand, have specialised curricula in fields such as the arts, science and languages.
Magnet schools offering language immersion are a decent substitute for the lack of international schools in Pittsburgh. These schools are not bilingual, but do teach a foreign language daily. From Pre-K to Grade 5, there are various schools offering this programme for Mandarin, Spanish and French. From Grade 6 onwards, students at these schools usually continue at the Obama Academy of International Studies, which teaches the International Baccalaureate.
While there are no schools teaching foreign curricula in Pittsburgh, a handful of schools in the city and its surrounds do offer the globally recognised International Baccalaureate. An International Baccalaureate Diploma allows students access to international education in 140 countries worldwide.
Public school districts such as Upper St. Clair, Steel Valley and Pittsburgh Public Schools all have schools that offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum. New arrivals who would like for their children to receive a globally transferable education would do well to secure housing in the areas and suburbs within these districts.
Private schools in Pittsburgh
There are several private schools in Pittsburgh offering an excellent standard of education. These schools are often based on alternative education models, such as Montessori or Waldorf, or are religious schools.
Unlike public schools, private schools charge fees, so newcomers planning on taking this route should ensure there’s enough in their budget for it. A distinct advantage of private schools is that they aren’t zoned, so families have more options when it comes to choosing where to live.
Special-needs education in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh provides an extensive range of educational services and support for students with special needs in public schools. These services include learning, emotional, autistic, life-skills and multiple-disabilities support.
Outside the public school system, the city has a few exceptional private schools that offer inclusive education. Pittsburgh also has several schools that cater to specific disabilities, such as schools for the deaf, the blind, and students with other special education needs.
Tutoring in Pittsburgh
Many Pittsburgh parents choose to have their children tutored. There are a vast number of options available to students who require extra help with specific school subjects. Some of the top tutoring companies in Pittsburgh include Pittsburgh Tutor and Pittsburgh Prep. Parents who don't want to work through a tutoring service will find that there are also many private tutors in the city, ranging from retired teachers to university students.
►For recommendations of family-friendly neighbourhoods, see Areas and Suburbs in Pittsburgh
Are you an expat living in Pittsburgh?
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