Transitioning from Private
to Public School

Change of any kind can be a challenge for children. If your child is moving up from pre-K to kindergarten, elementary to middle school, or middle to high school, there will no doubt be adjustments your child must make. Similarly, if your family has relocated from another country, state, district, or school, your child will have some changes to get used to.

The same is true for those who previously attended private school and will be entering the public school system. The differences are not as vast as you might guess, but there are differences to consider:

  • Size: Public schools, on average, are larger than private schools. A bigger school population means bigger class sizes. Along with the size increase, the new school may have a different demographic makeup than that of a private school, depending on the location. If so, your child will meet children of various ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Curriculum: Private schools, because they aren't funded by tax dollars, create their own curriculum and assessment systems. For example, Catholic and Jewish schools may emphasize religion, while science academies tend to focus on math and science.

    In Texas public schools, the curriculum is determined by the state and progress is measured by standardized tests. Basic public school curriculum usually includes math, English, reading, writing, science, history, physical education, and in many schools, music and art.
  • Course credit: A student transferring into a Texas public high school, including a foreign student, student from out of state, or student from a private school, is eligible to receive a Texas diploma, but only after completing all state graduation requirements. Credit previously earned in courses required for graduation from an accredited school district must be accepted as transfer credit by a Texas school district. Credit earned in local-credit courses (electives) may be transferred only with the consent of the receiving school district. Transfer students’ transcripts or other records must be evaluated promptly and the student placed in appropriate classes.

    The content of coursework performed in nonaccredited settings, including homeschool, may be verified using a variety of methods, including testing. Any course credit required for graduation but not completed by the student before he or she enrolls in a Texas school district may be satisfied through distance learning, credit by examination, or other means.
  • Funding: Private schools are funded by tuition payments from students' parents, endowments, and grants from private organizations. Public schools are funded by local, state, and federal governments, so parents do not have to pay for tuition or books.
  • Dress code: Many private schools require students to wear uniforms. Most public schools do not require uniforms but instead have a dress code that limits what students can wear. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the school's dress code to learn what attire is appropriate for school.

    The implications of "uniform-less" school clothing goes beyond just complying with the dress code. Particularly if your child is in middle or high school, he or she will find that styles of dress often determine social groups, identity development, and self-expression.


Socially, the success of the transition to public school will depend on your student's personality. Extroverted children may make friends more quickly. But don't assume that a timid child will have trouble—there are more students in public schools, so a shy child will have a larger pool of students from which to find compatible friends. There is something for everyone in public schools.

With that in mind, give your child some time to make new friends and enjoy the new surroundings. Welcome to Texas public school!