New arrivals will find plenty of options available for education and schools in Nashville. Deciding which school to send your child to can be daunting, though, and requires a lot of research. 

The first consideration will likely be deciding between public and private schools. Public schools in Nashville are free to attend and teach the US curriculum, culminating in the American High School Diploma. On the other hand, private and international schools charge fees but tend to have smaller class sizes and more autonomy regarding curriculum and teaching styles.

Like the rest of the US, schools in Nashville are divided into three levels: elementary school (Preschool to Grade 5), middle school (Grades 6 to 8) and high school (Grades 9 to 12). 

Public schools in Nashville

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Anyone legally residing in Nashville can send their child to a public school at little to no cost. As in most US cities, the standard of public schools in Nashville varies dramatically. Some schools are exemplary, while others are below standard. For this reason, it's vital that parents research the public schools situated in their preferred suburb of Nashville.

Public school admission in Nashville is based on residential zones, so parents should consider the proximity of suitable schooling when deciding where to find a family home. It's worth noting that students who attend a school in their zone and live more than 1.5 miles (2 km) away from that school are eligible for free school bus transportation. This is a great bonus as parents won’t have to worry about navigating the school run through rush-hour traffic. 

Magnet schools 

Magnet schools are a subset of public schools. They're more specialised in certain specialised subject areas such as the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths), performing arts, and languages.

Admission to magnet schools is less restricted by catchment areas than is the case with regular public schools. These schools typically draw students from further afield, provided they have an aptitude for the school’s subject focus. A handful of magnet schools in Nashville require all prospective students to have an academic average of 85 or above and pass an entrance exam.

While magnet schools are primarily state-funded, they often receive additional financial support from external sources. They aren’t as strictly bound by the US curricula, but they have some autonomy over developing their own unique syllabus.

Charter schools

Charter schools are another element of the public schooling system in Nashville. These schools are semi-autonomous institutions that operate under a contract with the Metro Nashville Public Schools District. This charter determines how the school is managed, as well as its goals, curricula, and teaching methods. While charter schools follow the national curricula to a great extent, there is more flexibility in terms of design. Similarly to magnet schools, admission to charter schools isn’t based on residential zoning.

Read more about Education and Schools in the US

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Private schools in Nashville

Some parents may opt to enrol their child in a private school. These schools are privately funded through tuition fees and generally offer a higher standard of teaching, state-of-the-art facilities and a wider range of extracurricular activities than the average public school. Students can also expect to receive more personal attention from teachers, as private schools have smaller sizes.

The downside of private education is the cost. Tuition fees easily add up to thousands of dollars a year, and parents who choose this option must budget accordingly. They'll also need to factor in the additional expenses of private schooling such as textbooks, uniforms, extracurricular activities and field trips. 

There are more than 100 private schools in Nashville, with average tuition costing more than USD 11,000 annually. 

International schools in Nashville

Foreign nationals relocating to Nashville from outside the US may wish to have their children continue studying the curriculum of their home country. While there is limited opportunity for this in Nashville, several charter and magnet schools, including Hillsboro Comprehensive and Hunters Lane High, offer students the chance to follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. 

The benefit of studying at one of these institutions, especially if you are an expat, is that it allows the students to mix with other children who have recently relocated and may share similar experiences. For Nashville residents in general, the advantage of completing the IB as opposed to a local curriculum is that the qualification is globally recognised. 

Special-needs education in Nashville

Tennessee’s Law for Children with Special Needs states that if a child has any learning difficulty or physical disability, he or she is entitled to receive additional support through the public school system. This is further backed up by federal law, which stipulates that all children are entitled to free and appropriate education, including anyone with a disability.

Students with special needs are well catered for in Nashville. Not only are there a fair few dedicated special-needs schools, but both public and private schools are also expected to have structures to support children with various developmental, behavioural, and physical disabilities. 

The priority is always to integrate a child into the regular schooling system. They will be referred to a specialist educational facility only once it has been established that their issues are too severe. 

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Tutors in Nashville

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Parents choose to hire private tutors to assist their children in a number of ways. Sometimes, it's perhaps a case that relocation and starting at a new school has put the student on the back foot, so they require extra help to find their feet again. In another instance, students may need coaching before university admissions exams. Private tutors can be a great source of support, and there are plenty of options to pick from in Nashville.

Often the first reference point for a private tutor would be to arrange one through the child’s school, or on their recommendation. Failing that, several tutoring companies in Nashville offer a range of packages from one-to-one sessions and small group classes to video sessions. 

Some of the established companies in Nashville include Learning Lab, Learning Matters Inc and Mathnasium. Online portals can also help parents find tutors but be sure to check that the tutors hired have been fully vetted before signing any agreements. 

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