Education and schools in Pittsburgh
Home to the renowned Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh highly values education. 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. 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.
Parents looking to choose a school in Pittsburgh will have to consider many factors, such as proximity to a particular school or neighbourhood, 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 to be more culturally diverse, offering a more personalised education. Charter schools follow the state curriculum but are self-managed, meaning they are typically more innovative and flexible 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.
Private schools in Pittsburgh
There are a number of private schools in Pittsburgh offering high standards 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 expats planning on taking this route should ensure there’s room in the budget. A distinct advantage of private schools is that they aren’t zoned, so families have more options of where to live.