Social Intelligence

Other numbers that experts said are important? Student diversity, Buttram says. Students will experience diversity in the adult world and without it in school settings, she says, they are likely to be less prepared with the social skills they need.

Julie Rumschlag, principal at Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, agrees. “Are students learning to be problem solvers, can they interact with other kids, can they resolve conflict?” Rumschlag says parents should ask when they look at schools. “Real life skills are so important.”

The percent of ethnic diversity in Delaware’s charter high schools ranges from 18 to 75 percent, with most falling somewhere around the state’s average of 29 percent. Private schools range from 6 to 55 percent, with most falling 10 to 15 points below the state average.

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Another aspect of diversity is socioeconomic. And while costs ranging from $4,750 to $49,500 would seem to price many socioeconomic groups out of those schools, nearly all of Delaware’s private high schools report on their Web sites that they provide need-based financial aid.

Twenty percent of students attending Tower Hill School in Wilmington received $1.8 million of financial assistance last year with an average aid award of $12,309. That brings the average recipient’s tuition to about $13,300. St. Andrew’s awards $5 million each year to 45 percent of its student body, with an average aid award of more than $38,000. That brings the average recipient’s annual boarding school bill to $11,500. Even schools like Delmarva Christian, with a modest $7,300 tuition, provides financial aid for a third of its students. “We have made a commitment to families that we will provide a way for their child to be here,” Vonhof says.

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