Guide to School Choice in Idaho

By: National School Choice Week Team

Choosing a school? You’ve got options. 

If you live in Idaho, you have access to more K-12 education options for your child than you might realize. Navigating these options can help you find a school where your child thrives, but it can also feel overwhelming at first. This post will breakdown the six types of schools available to you and provide some extra resources too! 

In short, you can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

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Idaho Traditional Public Schools

Most children in Idaho (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 taxpayers like you. Did you know that Idaho spends an average of $8,677 per public school pupil each year? 

Idaho has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Idaho regardless of where you live or where the school is located. You can take advantage of this valuable 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. 

Idaho Charter Schools

You have another tuition-free option in charter schools! Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and usually have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is that they are allowed extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods. Public charter schools are held accountable to authorizing entities, such as colleges or school districts, for results. 

Idaho has 43 brick-and-mortar charter schools and 9 virtual charter schools that parents can choose from. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be providing a language 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 lottery system is usually used to determine admittance. Learn more about Idaho’s charter schools here

Idaho Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are another school choice in Idaho. Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. Idaho has several magnet schools scattered throughout the state, and these might be a good option if your kid learns best by focusing in on a subject he or she is passionate about. 

Idaho Private Schools

Families in Idaho can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. Idaho’s private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs. Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Idaho at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, effective in 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.

Idaho Online Learning

Whether your child wants to accelerate learning or needs a quieter environment to focus, you may be interested in trying virtual school. Idaho offers several full-time, free online learning options for students, like Idaho Connections Academy and Idaho Virtual Academy. For part-time options, Idaho students in grades 6-12 may enroll in online classes through Idaho Digital Learning. Idaho Digital Learning is available to students in any type of educational setting, public or private. But, parents should check with their local public school or district for details, as fees may apply.

Idaho Homeschooling

Families in Idaho and all 50 states can choose homeschooling! Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home and allows for highly customized education. The Home School Legal Defense Association has a great how-to about homeschooling in Idaho. You may also want to check out Homeschool Idaho or the North Idaho Home Educator’s Association

Education Resources for Idaho Parents 

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

School Choice Celebrations in Idaho 

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! 

Idaho celebrated National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 280 events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Idaho.

Visit State Page


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