Community Day School Love the learning, Live the Values 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are questions we hear often in our Admission Office, with answers to help you navigate this process.

Do you have to be Jewish to attend CDS?

Students may matriculate at Community Day School if they are Jewish by birth or choice, or if one parent is Jewish or actively engaged in becoming Jewish.
 

What happens if my child doesn't know Hebrew?

Knowledge of Hebrew is not a prerequisite to attend CDS, including for students transferring in later grades with limited Hebrew background. In each grade, we have learning support in place to meet the individual needs of each student's level of Hebrew. Starting in 2nd Grade, Hebrew instruction is differentiated within the classroom from beginning to advanced. A pull-out program is provided for those who need even more personalized instruction, and we also provide advanced instruction for native Hebrew speakers and accelerated learners.

I'm worried my family might not be religious enough or might be too religious to attend CDS. Will my child feel comfortable?

Community Day School is open and welcoming to children from across the range of Jewish practice and belief. Our goal is to ensure that all students, regardless of their personal observance, can feel at home at CDS and develop a meaningful connection to and understanding of Judaism. We respect the diversity of observance in the Pittsburgh Jewish community and we are proud that families from such diverse backgrounds feel comfortable at CDS.

Is CDS associated with a particular movement of Judaism?

No. As our name implies, Community Day School is truly a community day school. Our students come from across the range of our local synagogues, including 40 percent of families who are unaffiliated with any congregation. Students are taught the values and traditions we all hold in common, allowing children to explore what they value and believe and establish their own personal connection to Judaism.

How do you balance secular and Jewish studies?

At CDS you can "have it all." Our hours of instruction in the core subjects of math and language arts are on par, if not greater, than most Pittsburgh-area independent schools. The Hebrew and Jewish Studies program at CDS teaches and reinforces the intellectual skills of questioning, analyzing, and making choices—the very skills needed to succeed in our rapidly changing 21st-century world. Our secular and Hebrew and Jewish Studies curricula bolster each other. Therefore, the high academic achievement of our students in high school and beyond is not surprising. CDS students also consistently score, on average, well above their peers at independent schools nationwide on standardized tests.

What is the enrollment at CDS?

We have nearly 290 students in our Early Childhood program through Grade 8, and a majority of our students stay at Community Day School through graduation.

How many teachers hold advanced degrees?

Behind the success of Community Day School is the commitment of our award-winning faculty. With nearly 65% of the faculty holding advanced degrees, CDS teachers demonstrate that high expectations and a passion for learning are not just what they teach, but values they live.

What are the benefits of choosing a school that ends in 8th Grade?

An Early Childhood-Grade 8 school allows for ongoing collaboration and collaboration among faculty, providing educational continuity for your child for nine or more years.

This environment also allows your child to "stay younger longer," away from the social and academic pressures of high school in an environment where your family's Jewish values are reinforced at school. All of our resources are invested in younger children rather than shifted to expensive high school programs. Middle School students at CDS aren't in the "middle!" They feel a sense of belonging, safety, and freedom to try new things and rise to the responsibility of being leaders of the entire student body when they are in Middle School. A recent study even indicates there is a boost in academic performance for middle schoolers in schools that end in 8th Grade.

By 8th Grade, you'll know your child's strengths, interests, and dreams and be in a great position to choose a high school together. Our graduates leave CDS with self-confidence, academically over-prepared, and ready for the next stage of their educational journey. 

What is the average class size?

Dedicated to individualized instruction to meet your child's learning needs, Community Day School has a student: teacher ratio of 6:1 and an average class size of 14. 

How does CDS meet individual student needs?

Differentiated instruction is the practice of adjusting educational instruction to meet the needs of students in a variety of ways in order to increase learning. It means recognizing each child’s current level of knowledge and ability, while still working within subject-area competencies and skills rather than adopting a standardized approach to teaching that presumes that all learners of a given age or grade are essentially alike. Thus, differentiated instruction is responsive and student-centered teaching, rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach. For the past 15 years, our faculty have been expanding their skills in this crucial aspect of teaching, and the journey continues to ensure we meet the individualized learning and socio-emotional needs of every CDS student.

In addition, we have a skilled Learning Services department on staff, as well as school-based counseling services made possible through the Yad B'Yad partnership with Jewish Family and Community Services of Pittsburgh. Our faculty also participate actively in the lives of our students,  both in and out of the classroom, in our nurturing school environment infused with Jewish values and traditions.

Which high schools do CDS graduates attend?

Community Day School alumni are consistently among the best prepared at top high schools throughout the Pittsburgh area and beyond, which welcome our graduates for their academic strength, as well as their sense of purpose, leadership skills, and activism. 

For example, four of the 16 valedictorians at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School this year are Community Day School alumni, and two CDS alumni  were recognized for academic excellence by being inducted into the Cum Laude Society as seniors at Shady Side Academy . Almost 70% of CDS alumni Class of 2018 Allderdice grads earned High Honors and 62% were inducted into the National Honor Society.

Our Destination High School program is available to help families easily navigate the high school decision-making and application process.  Here is the breakdown of high schools recently attended by CDS graduates:

% attending Pittsburgh Allderdice High School: 69.8%
% attending independent schools: 16.4%
% attending suburban high schools: 6.72%
% attending city magnet schools: 5.22%

*Data from 2008-2018

What colleges do CDS alumni attend?

For nearly 50 years, Community Day School has been graduating capable, confident and proud 8th graders who launch into their high school and college careers with tremendous success. As our alumni attend top colleges and universities throughout the country and participate in educational experiences in Israel and worldwide, we feel great pride in their accomplishments. View the list of schools attended by our alumni from 2012-2018.

Is Community Day School accredited?

Community Day School is fully accredited by the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools and is a member of the Pittsburgh Consortium of Independent Schools and Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools. CDS is also a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

How well do CDS students perform on standardized tests?

Unlike today's public schools, Community Day School isn’t mandated to use standardized test scores as the dominant means of evaluating our curriculum. We are also guided by our mission statement, school philosophy, and assessment and input from our expert faculty, accrediting organizations, and parents. At CDS, we don’t teach to the test and we know that your child is much more than a set of test scores.

That said, students consistently outperform students at independent and suburban public schools nationwide on the ERB (Educational Records Bureau) tests, which are highly regarded standardized tests considered the “gold standard” among private schools and more rigorous than the PSSA tests administered in Pennsylvania public schools. ERB data help us track the progress of each student to better meet their individualized learning needs and to benchmark our accomplishments as a school.

Is there a dress code?

Yes. At CDS, we believe there is a relationship between student dress and success, school pride, and the accomplishment of educational objectives. We believe that shared expectations for dress support a positive educational environment in the school, freeing students and staff from peer pressure and competition in clothing. By rejecting identical purchased and branded uniforms in favor of a consistent CDS standard of attire, we seek to minimize economic and social barriers and strengthen overall school spirit and the sense of community. Click here to view our dress code

Do you have after-school care?

Yes. CDS offers an Extended Day program for our students in Early Childhood through Grade 5. The program runs from 3:35 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 2:35 to 5 p.m. (4 p.m. in the wintertime months because of the early start of Shabbat) on Friday. A fruit snack and homework time are provided each day. There is an additional charge for Extended Day.
 

Which athletics programs do you offer?

Almost 90 percent of our Middle School students participate on one or more of our interscholastic sports. Fall sports include cross country and soccer. In the winter, students participate in basketball. Spring sports include lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee, baseball/softball, and track. We also offer a Little Lions sports program for Grades 3 to 5, as well extracurricular athletic opportunities including fencing, archery, Mighty Kicks Soccer, and Girls on the Run. All grades participate in our physical education curriculum and use our extensive outdoor spaces and adjacent parks to get students moving.

Which extracurricular activities do you offer?

CDS offers a variety of in-school and after school extracurricular opportunities for all ages. These include: athletics in Grades 3 to 8, performing arts, instrumental band, Student Council, Tefillah Council, 9th Period Middle School Exploratories as diverse as marine biology, drone-building, and ballroom dancing, academic competitions such as Odyssey of the Mind, Math Olympiad, and the National Geographic Bee, Tikkun Olam and community service opportunities, and much more.
 

Is bus transportation available to and from school?

Beginning in Kindergarten, CDS students who live more than 1.5 miles from CDS and live in the City of Pittsburgh are eligible for free bus service via the Pittsburgh Public School system. Students from other school districts such as Plum, McKeesport, Gateway, Woodland Hills, Fox Chapel Area, and others benefit from free school bus service through their respective districts. If you live outside the city, we are happy to help you determine bus availability through your local school district.

Does CDS have a lunch program?

CDS is proud to offer a lunch program that is home-cooked, healthy, and kosher. Students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 have the opportunity to select and purchase daily menu options in advance each trimester. For students in our 3-Year-Olds and Pre-K classrooms, a hot, kosher lunch is included with tuition, and children eat family-style together with their educators in alignment with the Reggio Emilia-inspired program philosophy. Students who don't purchase school lunch bring a packed lunch  (nut-free and without meat or shellfish) from home.

What time does school start and end?

Students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 begin their day at 7:55 a.m. and end at 3:35 p.m. On Friday, in honor of Shabbat, the school day ends at 2:35 p.m. Early Childhood has core hours from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Friday with the option to extend to regular school hours.

How do we apply for tuition assistance?

Robust tuition assistance is available to qualifying families. Please go to our Tuition Assistance page for more information and links to apply. Applicants requiring tuition assistance receive the same consideration for admission as families not applying for financial aid.