Guide to School Choice in Massachusetts

By: National School Choice Week Team

Choosing a school? You’ve got options. 

Massachusetts parents, this post is for you. Each year you face one of the biggest decisions you can make on behalf of your child: Where to send your child to school. 

Each child is unique. So, the “best” school for your neighbor’s child may look different than the “best” school for your child. Knowing all your K-12 options can help you find a school where your child is eager to attend and actively learning. 

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

Massachusetts celebrates School Choice Week

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Massachusetts Traditional Public Schools

Massachusetts’s traditional public schools are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by federal, state, and local government. Massachusetts spends an average of $14,529 per public school student each year. 

In Massachusetts, each district decides whether it will participate in open enrollment. “Open enrollment” allows parents to send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. If you are interested in transferring your child to a different public school than you are assigned, you should talk to your local school district to learn whether it is available for you. Open enrollment is a valuable option for parents because it gives them more opportunities within the public school system, allowing them to select the school that best matches their child’s needs. 

Massachusetts Charter Schools

Also, Massachusetts families can choose charter schools! These schools are tuition-free public schools that are also open to all students; charter schools differ from traditional public school in that they are allowed extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods. Massachusetts currently has more than 70 charter schools that parents can choose from; you can find the list here

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. Charter schools are also held accountable to authorizing entities. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, an old-fashioned lottery system is usually used to randomly determine admittance. 

Learn more from the Massachusetts Charter School Association

Massachusetts Magnet Schools

Depending on where you live, you may have access to a third type of public school: magnet schools. These schools are free public schools that allow kids to focus on specific themes, like science or the performing arts. Massachusetts has a handful of magnet schools, which may be a good choice if your student learns best by diving deeply into a subject they are passionate about. 

Massachusetts Private Schools

Families in Massachusetts 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. Massachusetts’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 Massachusetts 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.

Massachusetts 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. Students in Massachusetts may attend one of two free public virtual schools, either full-time or part-time, with an agreement from the local school district. Private virtual schools are also available. 

Massachusetts Homeschooling

Homeschooling is another school option for Massachusetts families; this is a great option if you are looking for a hands-on, highly-customizable approach to your child’s education. All 50 states allow homeschooling, which is the process of parents educating students at home. Check here for great resources about homeschooling specific to Massachusetts. You may also want to check out the Massachusetts Home Learning Association or the Massachusetts Homeschool Organization of Parent Educations (MassHOPE).

Education Resources for Massachusetts Parents

For additional information about school choices in Massachusetts visit these resources: 

Massachusetts celebrates School Choice Week

School Choice Celebrations in Massachusetts

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! 

Massachusetts celebrated National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 593 events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Massachusetts.

Visit State Page


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