Nevada School Choice Roadmap

By: National School Choice Week Team

Last Upated: March 13, 2023

Choosing a school? You’ve got options. 

No pressure, but education is a big decision! After all, it has a huge impact on your child’s future. Fortunately, Nevada families have access to several K-12 options. Navigating these options can help you find a school where your child thrives. This post will breakdown the six main types of schools and provide some extra education resources. 

In Nevada, families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and learning pods.

Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Nevada at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

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Traditional public schools do not charge tuition. They are managed by school districts and do not require students to pass tests to enroll.
Public charter schools do not charge tuition. They are usually managed by nonprofit organizations and do not require students to pass tests to enroll.
Public magnet schools do not charge tuition. They are managed by school districts and focus on themes, such as math, science, technology, and the arts.
Private schools charge tuition, but scholarships are often available via state programs or by individual schools. Private schools are privately managed and can be faith-based or secular.

      Traditional Public Schools

      First off, you can choose traditional public schools, the most common school choice. These schools are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by federal, state, and local government. Did you know that Nevada spends an average of $9,814 per public school student each year? 

      Each state has its own open enrollment policies policies. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. In Nevada, each district creates its own open enrollment policies; so, you should check with your local district if you would like to transfer your child. If your assigned school participates in open enrollment, it may cover transportation costs.

      For an example of the transfer process and timeline in Nevada, check out Clark County School District’s change of school assignment application. Open enrollment is an important form of public school choice, widening parents’ options and ensuring that their zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education.

      Find out more about public schools in your state at the Nevada Department of Education.

      Nevada Charter Schools

      Families in Nevada can also choose public charter schools. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and usually have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is they have extra freedom to innovate with learning methods and are accountable to authorizing bodies for results. 

      Nya Berry, a mom and executive director at one Nevada charter school we interviewed, called her school “the best kept secret in Nevada.”

      Nevada has more than 80 charter schools families can choose from. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. That could be providing a STEAM 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 (like drawing random names out of a hat!)  is often used to determine admittance. 

      A great resource for learning about these options is the Charter School Association of Nevada.

      Students Hiking

      Nevada Magnet Schools

      You can also choose magnet schools! Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to focus on specific themes, like STEM, health sciences, or the arts. A few years ago, a Las Vegas Sun article described magnet schools as “schools within schools.” In other words, they offer specialty tracks within the public school system. So, these can be a valuable option for children who learn best when diving deeply into a particular course of study. Nevada has several magnet schools throughout the state; for instance, there are more than 35 magnet schools or programs in the Clark County School District. These schools have focuses that range from the performing arts to STEM to hospitality and tourism. Another large district with magnet schools is the Washoe County School District.

      Nevada Private Schools

      Nevada’s private schools take many forms, from Catholic parish schools to non-sectarian Montessori schools. All private schools are nonpublic schools that charge tuition. 

      There are more than 160 private schools across the state of Nevada. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $10,478 for elementary schools and $11,760 for high schools. Private schools in Nevada provide the same number of days of instruction and private school teachers must hold a teacher’s license or meet another requirement. 

      In 2015, Nevada launched a school choice program that enables families at or below 300% of the federal poverty line ($79,500 for a family of four in 2021-2022) to apply for scholarships for private education. If you think a private school could be the best fit for your child, you can also reach out to the school about whether any privately funded scholarships are available. 

      Learn more at Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Reno and Private School Review: Nevada.

      Nevada Online Learning

      Don’t overlook online learning. It offers a uniquely flexible learning environment that meets a variety of family needs. Whether your child wants to accelerate his or her learning or needs a quieter, stress-free environment in which to focus, you may wish to try virtual school. 

      Nevada offers several free, full-time online learning options, some of the largest of which are Nevada Connections AcademyNevada Learning Academy, Leadership Academy of Nevada, and Nevada Virtual Academy. The Nevada Department of Education provides a complete list of distance learning options, some of which are district-specific and some of which are open to students across districts. Some of the full-time options operated by specific districts include North Star Online School in Washoe County, Pioneer Academy in Carson City, and Northeastern Nevada Virtual Academy in Elko County.

      To read more about online learning in Nevada, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

      Nevada Homeschooling

      Homeschooling is another school option for Nevada families. This choice is especially suited to those looking for a hands-on, highly customizable learning experience. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home and is permitted in all 50 states.

      In Nevada, the state requires notice of intent to homeschool before you start and no later than 10 days after withdrawing from a school (it is required that you formally withdraw from your public school). In the case that you decide to return to public school, your student’s placement may be subject to testing and review of their work.

      If you choose homeschooling, you’re required to teach specific subjects (including language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health), but specific standardized tests are not required. Your homeschooled student might still be eligible to participate in sports or activities at the local public school. Plus, homeschoolers with special needs are eligible to receive special education services from local school districts.

      You may also want to check out the Nevada Department of Education – HomeschoolingHome School Legal Defense Association – NevadaNevada Homeschool Network, and RISE Education Resource Center.

      Nevada Learning Pods

      Micro-schools, pods, pandemic pods, and learning pods all refer to the same concept: students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize.  Pods themselves can take a variety of legal forms, but in general they can be separated into two categories: self-directed pod (homeschool, homeschool collaborative, or micro-school) and learning support pod. It’s important to understand what kind of pod you are signing up for and the requirements that go along with it.  Learn more about learning pods.

      Self-Directed Pods:

      If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Nevada. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA

      If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have parents or other teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. You can read more about what Nevada classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

      Learning Support Pods:

      If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. 

      Las Vegas families may want to check out the Greater Las Vegas Microschool Collaborative and the Southern Nevada Urban Micro Academy to learn more. Also, Nevada Action for School Options has created a series of explainer videos on microschooling.

      Education Resources for Nevada Parents 

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

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