Guide to School Choice in Connecticut

By: National School Choice Week Team

Choosing a school? You’ve got options. 

Deciding where to send your child to school is one of the biggest decisions you face as a parent. Navigating your choices for K-12 education starts with knowing what options are available to you in Connecticut. There may be more options than you realize! Once you’re equipped with knowing your options, you can make the best choice for your family. 

Connecticut families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

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Connecticut Traditional Public Schools

Most children in Connecticut (and in America) attend traditional public schools. Traditional public schools are free to attend, open to all students, operated by school districts, and funded by federal, state, and local government. Did you know that Connecticut spends an average of $17,798 per public school student each year

Connecticut has restricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that parents in some Connecticut cities may be able to choose traditional public schools outside of their districts. If you live in an area of Connecticut with open enrollment, take advantage of this option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family. Traditional public schools aren’t all the same: They may differ in learning methods and one may just “feel different” than another to you. If you would like to participate in open enrollment, contact your local district for more information. 

Connecticut Charter Schools

Charter schools are another free school option for Connecticut families. Connecticut has more than 20 public charter schools that parents can choose from. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and usually have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is that they have extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods and are accountable to authorizing entities (like school districts or colleges) for results. 

Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. That could be providing a Spanish immersion program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a good old-fashioned lottery system is usually used to determine admittance. 

Read about sixth-graders from one Connecticut charter school who made a difference in their community here

 Connecticut Magnet Schools

Depending on where you live in Connecticut, you may also be able to choose a magnet school. These schools are free public schools that allow kids to focus on specific themes or tracks, like STEM or the performing arts. A magnet school might be a good option if your child learns best by focusing on a subject they are passionate about. You can find frequently asked questions about Connecticut magnet schools here

Connecticut Private Schools

While magnet schools are a choice many parents haven’t heard of, most families are familiar with private schools. Connecticut’s private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs. Unfortunately, in Connecticut there are no state-run scholarships to help families afford private school tuition.

Effective in 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts? 

Connecticut Online Learning

Whether your child wants to accelerate his or her learning or needs a quieter environment in which to focus, you may be interested in giving virtual school a try. While most states have free online school options, Connecticut only has paid options available at present, such as George Washington University Online High School, The Keystone School, and K12 International Academy

 Connecticut Homeschooling

Also, Connecticut families can choose homeschooling, the process of parents educating students at home. You can homeschool in all 50 states and homeschooling is an increasingly popular choice. As both technology and school choices have spread in Connecticut, there are more support and resources for homeschooling than ever.

To learn more about homeschooling in Connecticut, check out the Home School Legal Defense Association’s page for a great how-to. You may also wish to check out the Connecticut Department of Education’s homeschooling page, the CT Homeschool Network, or the CT Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers

students and teachers celebrate school choice in Connecticut

Education Resources for Connecticut Parents 

For additional information about school choices in Connecticut, visit these resources:

School Choice Celebrations in Connecticut

National School Choice Week 2021 will take place January 24 –30, 2021. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information! 

Connecticut celebrated National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 409 events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Connecticut.

Visit State Page


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