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          American Boys Preparatory           Academy

                                       A Private Middle School for Boys in Union County, NJ

Frequently Asked Questions About the Unique Private Middle School Experience at ABPA (FAQ)


Why "American"?
We believe in and promote American exceptionalism, the proposition that the United States is different from other countries due to its uniquely American ideology, based on liberty, egalitarianism, and individualism.   

Why "Boys"?

Our school is a private middle school for boys who have completed 4th grade and who are not yet 15 (i.e. ages typically associated with 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade).  We believe that the traditional school classroom model is especially ill-suited to adolescent boys filled with boundless energy and curiosity.  On a case-by-case basis, we may accept a limited number of younger or older students.   

Why "Preparatory Academy"?
Our mission is to academically prepare our students to be successful in high school and beyond.  In tandem with this mission, we endeavor to help our boys become more self-directed -- to lead their own lives in a purposeful manner that makes good use of their God-given free will and reason.                        


What is the Harkness method​?  The Harkness method, developed in 1930 for Phillips Exeter Academy, is a unique pedagogy. Rather than sitting in rows robotically noting down the teacher's every word, with the Harkness method, a group of students and a teacher sit around a table. Each student comes to a Harkness session prepared, and rather than the teacher running the lesson, students themselves direct the discussion. ​This method helps students become active listeners and engage more thoughtfully in the conversation since they are no longer passively absorbing information relayed from a teacher. 

With the Harkness method, the teacher is more of a facilitator who creates the environment and structure and occasionally guides the conversation through lulls. At the table, students explore ideas together, passionately defend their positions, and develop the courage to participate. Harkness is not about being right or wrong; oftentimes, class discussions do not end in neatly formalized conclusions. Instead of learning what to think, the Harkness method helps students learn how to think.

What do many boys dislike about traditional schools?
  • Too much time sitting still -- at ABPA, we promote engaging in physical activities for up to 90 minutes each day.
  • Teachers who instruct at a pace that is too fast or too slow -- at ABPA, the great majority of learning is self-paced and learning coaches are on-site to assist when a student is having difficulty progressing on his own.  Students are also encouraged to help each other while complying with the honor code since the act of teaching reinforces the teacher's learning.
  • Being forced to learn about things that are not interesting to them -- at ABPA, parents, students, and learning coaches meet to set minimum standards for each knowledge area and then closely monitor progress throughout the school year.  As long as students are on track to meet the minimum standards as agreed, they are free to spend more time on the subjects or activities which interest them most.
  • Being forced to do worksheets and other practice exercises that are too easy or too difficult - at ABPA, practice exercises are tailored to be at the appropriate level of difficulty.  Once mastery is achieved, the objective has been met.  Time is not wasted doing busy work.
  • Too much homework -- at ABPA, homework is always optional.  The expectation is that time away from school will be spent connecting with family and friends and involve rest, relaxation, play and other non-academic activities such as worship and hobbies.  Too much time and emphasis on academics can turn the joyful activity of learning into a tedious and stress-inducing job. 
  • Closed book tests and quizzes -- at ABPA, we do not expect our students to stay up late memorizing a lot of useless trivia to regurgitate the next day for a teacher and then soon forget.  We expect our students to demonstrate mastery of concepts, not trivia.
  • Report cards -- at ABPA, we do not issue report cards with letter grades.  Instead of issuing quarterly and annual subjective assessments, ABPA learning coaches regularly meet with students and parents to impartially review progress made against agreed upon goals.   

What do many parents dislike about traditional schools?
  • All the homework and other after-school obligations that put stress on busy parents as well as students - at ABPA, we work efficiently in school so that there is no need to do school work outside of school.  
  • Teachers and administrators who forget that their purpose is to serve parents and students - at ABPA, there is no confusion that our students and their parents are our clients.  You are paying us to provide an exceptional educational experience for your son and we will strive daily to continue to earn your patronage.
  • Schools indoctrinating students and/or exposing children to material deemed offensive or inappropriate -- at ABPA, we keep parents apprised of our curriculum and make it easy for parents to opt out if there is any material that parents do not want to be shared with their sons. This control makes ABPA a wonderful homeschool alternative. 
  • The seemingly incessant requests for time and/or money -- at ABPA, we prepare a budget that is aligned to the revenues we receive from your tuition payments.  We do not engage in efforts to extract more money from parents or look to parents as a source of free labor.
  • Needing to arrange parents' schedules around the school's schedule -- at ABPA, because most of the learning is self-paced, it rarely matters when you drop off or pick up your child.  You can drop off and pick up anytime between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm.  Note: There is a charge of $15 per hour for early drop off (before 8:30 am) or late pick up (after 4:30 pm). Meetings with school staff members can be held whenever it is most convenient for parents, including evenings and weekends.  We will not impose on parents by closing our doors to attend teacher conferences, teacher conventions, teacher training, teacher union meetings, etc.  Our school year is longer than the traditional public school year to accommodate the scheduling of family vacations when it's most convenient for families.
  • Too much emphasis on high stakes testing -- at ABPA, we do not "teach to the test" because as a general rule ABPA is a test-free zone.  For example, families will not have to opt out of the PARCC because, as a private school, we do not administer the PARCC.  The exceptions are as follows:  
    1. Private high school admissions exams -- for families interested in applying to high schools that require a private school admissions exam such as the ISEE or SSAT, we will administer mock exams and provide some complimentary group test prep coaching.
    2. College admissions exams -- for families with 14-year olds who want their sons to get a jump start on the SAT or ACT, we will provide some complimentary group test prep coaching.
    3. Mock PARCC -- for families interested in having a mock PARCC administered to compare with results from past years, we are happy to do so.  However, we do not offer PARCC test prep.
    4. Certifications exams -- for certifications such as First Aid and Boat Safety. 

What do many teachers dislike about traditional schools?  
  • Spending so much time with administrative obligations -- at ABPA, administrative tasks are kept to a minimum so that approximately 90% of a learning coach's day is spent directly supporting students and interacting with parents.
  • Teaching to the lowest common denominator - at ABPA, the majority of learning is self-paced so instead of lecturing to a group of 20 or more, our learning coaches are assisting an individual or small group of students in mastering a particular challenge.
  • Dealing with behavior problems -- at ABPA, we minimize behavior issues in two ways.  First, we provide an environment that is well suited to adolescent boys by providing a high degree of variety and freedom within a well-structured system that includes clearly articulated expectations and a consistently enforced code of conduct.  Second, if a boy is not a good fit for ABPA, we will not accept him back the following year.
  • Teaching to the test -- at ABPA,   As a general rule, ABPA is a test-free zone.  

Would a private middle school education at ABPA be a good fit for my son and our family?  Beyond creating an environment that will enable your son to make tremendous strides in reading comprehension, writing, mathematics, and science, we will endeavor to share concepts and philosophies that are rarely presented in middle schools today.  While we are not a religious school, each of our boys will be taught the Ten Commandments, the foundation of our legal system.  We will regularly recite the Pledge of Allegiance and say a prayer of thanksgiving together before any group meals.  Each boy will read and learn about the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and other important writings from our Founding Fathers.  Each boy will be given the opportunity to learn important business concepts including basic financial accounting, economics, and finance.  We advocate for the virtues of free market capitalism, self-determination, and the rule of law.  We encourage each of our boys to become a member of Boy Scouts of America and to take part in scouting activities.  If you recoil from the junk science, fuzzy math, and political correctness that is routinely disseminated in many public, private, and religious schools and homeschooling is not a viable option, then ABPA might be the right choice for your family.

Would my son be a good fit for ABPA?  If your son has performed at or above the 50th percentile on a standardized test, such as the PARCC, is frequently bored and/or frustrated in his current learning environment, and does not have behavioral or emotional problems or physical disabilities requiring specialized support, then he might be a good fit for ABPA.

If the quotes below resonate with you, ABPA may be the educational option you have been seeking.

Whenever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to ensure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery. – Benjamin Disraeli

It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights – the "right" to education, the "right" to health care, the "right" to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery – hay and a barn for human cattle. – Alexis De Tocquiville

If the only motive was to help people who could not afford education, advocates of government involvement would have simply proposed tuition subsidies. – Milton Friedman
In 1940, teachers were asked what they regarded as the three major problems in American schools. They identified the three major problems as: Littering, noise, and chewing gum. Teachers last year were asked what the three major problems in American schools were, and they defined them as: Rape, assault, and suicide. – William Bennett (1993)

The price of a "free" public education is freedom –

First, God created idiots. That was just for practice. Then He created school boards. – Mark Twain

It should be a system of education in which pupils from toddlers on up through the university take joy in learning, free from fear of grades and gold stars, and in which teachers take joy in their work, free from fear in ranking. It should be a system that recognizes differences between pupils and differences between teachers. - Dr. W. Edwards Deming


What is the admissions process? Contact us to schedule an interview so that you can get to know us and we can get to know you.  Provide us with standardized test scores that are no more than 1 year old (we accept the SSAT, ISEE and other standardized tests).  If needed, we can administer an assessment test.  Provide a $500 tuition deposit.  This deposit is refundable if your son attends ABPA for at least 10 days.

What is the admissions deadline? There is no admissions deadline.  If we have space available, we will accept new students throughout the year.  Since most of the learning is self-paced, it is not essential that new students join ABPA at any particular time of the year.  Applications can generally be reviewed and decisions communicated in no more than 5 business days.

Is 5th grade the only entry point?  New students can join ABPA after completing 4th, 5th grade, 6th grade, or 7th grade.  Space permitting, we can also accept students mid-year. 

Is ABPA a boarding school?  No.  ABPA is a day school.

Where is ABPA located?  We are located in Union County, New Jersey close to the city of Summit. 

How much does it cost to attend?  For the school years beginning September 2019 and September 2020, tuition is $1,000 per month starting October 1st.  September is a free month.  If a homeschooling family would like to leverage American Boys Prep as a resource on a part-time basis, the rate is $75 per day.

Is financial aid available?  No. We believe that a family's financial situation is a private matter and is not our concern so we will never ask to see tax returns or any proof of ability to pay.  However, that means we are unable to administer a financial aid program.

What is our financial obligation if we decide at some point that ABPA is not the right fit for our son?  If you decide to make a change during the school year, there will be no further financial obligation.

We are not sure if this concept will work for our son.  Is there a way we can try it out before committing?  Yes.  Feel free to try out our family-friendly, self-paced approach to learning for a whole month with no obligation.

We want to homeschool on a part-time basis.  Can our son attend ABPA part-time?  Yes, space permitting, students can attend at a daily rate of $75 per day.  

What days is school open?  ABPA is in session Monday through Friday with the following exceptions:
Closed Christmas Eve through New Year's Day

Closed Memorial Day and the Friday before Memorial Day 
Closed the week of July 4th
Closed Labor Day and the Friday before Labor Day
Closed the week of Thanksgiving