As the heart of the high-tech sector in the US, the greater Silicon Valley area is renowned for its education system, and most notably its tertiary institutions.
Public education in San Jose is administered by several school districts, the main one in the metropolitan area being the San Jose Unified School District.
Educational institutions in San Jose consist of public, private and international schools.
Public schools in San Jose
Public schools in San Jose generally offer a high standard of education. However, parents are advised to judge each school on its individual merits. It's a good idea to visit a school in person, meet with the headteachers and request a tour of the facilities.
Attendance of public schools is determined by geographical location. Students attend the public school that falls in the school district they reside in. Parents will need to provide proof that they reside permanently within the specific school district. It follows, then, that choosing a home in a good school district is therefore paramount for expats moving to San Jose with children. In general, the better public schools in Silicon Valley tend to be in the more upmarket areas.
Charter schools are public schools governed by a non-profit board, including members of the local school community, and operating on a performance-based contract with the local school district. Charter schools have more flexibility in terms of their academic programmes and curricula. They tend to offer a higher standard of education than mainstream public schools. These schools are tuition-free and open to any child who wishes to attend. However, competition for a place at a charter school in San Jose can be quite high. If more students are applying than there is space, there will be a lottery to determine who is admitted.
Private schools in San Jose
There are many private schools in San Jose and the greater Silicon Valley region. Many of these schools have a religious affiliation, usually Catholic. Each private school has its own admission requirements which may involve tests and personal interviews, and have more freedom to follow their own curriculum and academic programme.
There are no residential boundaries for children attending private schools in San Jose. Nevertheless, competition for places at the best private schools can be fierce and parents should start the application process as early as possible.
Tuition at private schools can be expensive. On top of basic fees, other expenses may include school uniforms, extra-curricular activities, textbooks and school excursions.
International schools in San Jose
Given the multinational makeup of San Jose, it follows that there are several international schools in San Jose and the wider Silicon Valley region catering to a variety of nationalities. These schools either follow the curriculum of their home country or offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme.
International schools are often a good option for families living in San Jose on a short-term assignment. However, fees at international schools can be exorbitant. Expat parents should ensure they factor this into their contract negotiations if planning a move to San Jose for work. Space can also often be limited, so the earlier one applies the better.
Tertiary education in San Jose
There are some world-renowned tertiary institutions in the Silicon Valley region, most notably Stanford University in Palo Alto. Other notable institutions in and around San Jose include Santa Clara University and San Jose State University. There are also a number of community colleges that offer quality tertiary education.