Five Big Differences Between Traditional and Developmental/Progressive Private Schools

FCLA Soccer
FCLA Soccer

Many L.A. private schools are a hybrid of educational philosophies, a blend of school types (traditional, developmental and progressive) that define each institution. However, there are schools that are purely traditional or progressive and have chosen not to incorporate a mix of educational philosophies. Any of these school types can offer an academically challenging, intellectually rigorous learning environment. Selecting a school depends on your preferences as a parent and finding the best fit for your kid.


Here are 5 differences between traditional and developmental/progressive schools:


1. Traditional schools tend to teach critical thinking in conjunction with heavy content acquisition. Developmental/Progressive schools are more focused on the process of learning than detailed content acquisition. Teachers are interested in what students know in traditional schools. Developmental/progressive schools want to know what students think.


2. The curriculum at developmental/progressive schools includes more project based learning, where kids work in groups and projects can take a week or more.


3. Traditional schools have more homework, tests and quizzes. They tend to use textbooks more often than developmental/progressive schools.


4. The report cards and grading systems are very different. Developmental/Progressive schools tend to use narrative written reports for elementary school. Traditional schools use grades and/or numeric evaluation methods.


5. Academic achievement is celebrated in traditional schools. Honor lists are posted, students discuss grades. Developmental/progressive schools de-emphasize the focus on public display of individual academic success.




LA School Scout’s Private School Admissions FAQ

LA School Scout


My friend and colleague, Sandy Eiges of LA School Scout has a great new FAQ about private schools on her blog!


Click on LA School Scout and you’ll see a yellow box at the top of the site with the FAQ. You can listen to audio of FAQ or read the short text answers. Definitely worth checking out since it has lots of helpful information! You can see my previous blog interview with Sandy here.



Guest Blogger Susanna: The Los Angeles Private School Mom’s Alphabet (yes, it’s snarky!)


Jackson 5


The Los Angeles Private School Mom’s Alphabet (we’re not totally exempt…only for the most obnoxious stuff)


A is for ass-kissing for admissions

B is for buying your way in

C is for carb-free

D is for donations

E is for Einstein- every parent has one

F is for frenemies

G is for gardening- organic and by a professional gardener

H is for hidden costs

I is for injectables

J is for juicing

K is for karma- it’s going to be a bitch

L is for luxury items needed for the auction

M is for middle school hysteria

N is for never ending donations

O is OMG. Enough with the drama already!

P is personal everything: trainer, chef, assistant

Q is for quack doctors to make you look younger

R is for running every committee

S is for social climbing

T is for two-faced- best watch your back outside of committee meetings!

U is for the underserved students we raise money for once a year

V is for vaccination controversies

W is for world travel on every vacation and long weekend

X is for the number raised with the annual fundraiser- no one knows the amount

Y is for yoga pants

Z is for the zen you achieve when you realize elementary school won’t last forever.


Susanna Morgan’s attend a Los Angeles private elementary school. Susanna’s definitely not June Cleaver. A parenting non-expert and mom of two boys, she returned her pearls to her ex-husband’s family as part of their divorce. And now she’s reclaiming the life she wants. The pearls are off…