Choosing a school? You’ve got options.
If you’re making a decision about your child’s K-12 education, you’re not alone. Thousands of New Mexico parents make school choice decisions each year for their children. You can do it! And, you have a variety of options available to choose from. Understanding your options can help you find a learning environment where your child is able not just to “get by” at school, but to thrive. Remember, each child is unique. So, the “best” school for your child may be different than the “best” school for your neighbor’s child.
In New Mexico, families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.
Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in New Mexico at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.
- Traditional Public Schools
- Public Charter Schools
- Public Magnet Schools
- Private Schools
- Online Schools
New Mexico Traditional Public Schools
As you might guess, most children (80.7% of all K-12 students) in New Mexico 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 New Mexico spends an average of $12,127 per public school student each year?
New Mexico has restricted open enrollment. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. New Mexico parents who live near low-performing schools may transfer their children to another school inside or outside their district. Parents in other circumstances should check with their local school district.
If you do have access to open enrollment, this can broaden your public school options, allowing you more choices to find the best fit for your child. If a student participating in open enrollment is choosing a different school within the same district, the district will provide transportation or reimburse parents’ costs. If the family selects a school in a different school district, parents are responsible for transportation. For a real-world example of open enrollment, check out Albuquerque Public Schools’ transfer guidelines.
Find out more about public schools in your state at the New Mexico Public Education Department. You can also learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools Without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”
New Mexico Charter Schools
New Mexico families have another public school choice: public charter schools. In New Mexico, 9.3% of all K-12 students attend a public charter school These are tuition-free schools that are allowed extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods. New Mexico has about 100 charter schools that parents can choose from; these schools serve nearly 30,000 students. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be providing a STEM program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum.
At New Mexico International School, for instance, the goal is for students to become bi-literate in Spanish and English and conversant in Arabic. “No one comes to New Mexico International School because they have a certain zip code or live near us,” said Head of School Todd Knouse. “Every child is here because their parents said, ‘I like the mission of that school.’ Everybody’s got to come to that prospective parent night because that’s how we give the lottery numbers out.”
As Knouse’s comment indicates, 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 usually used to determine admittance. Charters are especially popular in Santa Fe, where nearly 1 in 4 students attend a charter school.
Learn more about charter school options in your state from the Public Charter Schools of New Mexico. You can also find a directory of charter schools and authorizers at the New Mexico Public Education Department.
New Mexico Magnet Schools
Magnet schools are a third type of free public school. Magnet schools are unique in that they allow kids to focus on specific themes. New Mexico’s magnet programs include ones that focus on STEM, the International Baccalaureate program, arts curriculum, and more. Most of New Mexico’s magnet schools are concentrated in the Albuquerque Public School District. In the Las Cruces Public School District, there are engineering, art, and multi-media magnet programs. Additionally, Taos Municipal Schools has a blended-learning high-school magnet school, Taos Cyber Magnet School.
New Mexico Private Schools
New Mexico also has dozens of private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition, that parents can choose from. Many of these schools offer a specific religious or cultural tradition unavailable in neighborhood schools. In New Mexico, 6.7% of all K-12 students attend a private school.
There are no state-run scholarship options in New Mexico, but private scholarships may be available. Also, parents can save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts. You can read about the latest changes to New Mexico’s state-sponsored 529 education savings plan at The Education Plan website.
New Mexico Online Learning
Whether your child wants to accelerate learning or needs a quieter environment to focus in, you may be interested in virtual school. In New Mexico there are several free, full-time online learning options for students, such as New Mexico Connections Academy, Pecos Cyber Academy, eCademy K8 and eCademy High School, and New Mexico Destinations Career Academy.
In addition, the New Mexico Virtual Course Consortium was created to support public districts and charter schools in offering supplemental online courses. The state-run program charges fees to schools who enroll students. Some local districts absorb these costs, while some pass them along to families.
To read more about online learning in New Mexico, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.
New Mexico Homeschooling
New Mexico parents can choose homeschooling, which is the process of parents educating students at home. Homeschooling is a choice in all 50 states.
In New Mexico, 3.3% of all K-12 students are homeschooled. If you choose homeschooling in New Mexico, you’re required to teach specific subjects (including reading, math, and science), but specific standardized tests are not required. Your child may still be eligible to participate in sports or classes at your local public school, but requirements can vary by school, so be sure to ask for more information.
In New Mexico, it is required that you provide notice of your intent to homeschool within 30 days of starting and annually by August 1. It is recommended that you formally withdraw from your public school so your student is not marked truant. If you decide to return to public or private school, you should disenroll your student from the homeschool system through the New Mexico Public Education Department. Your student’s placement will be determined by age or their score on state achievement tests – the local school board will determine whether to accept credits.
If you are looking for a highly customizable and flexible education for your child and think homeschooling could fit the bill, read more resources specific to New Mexico.
New Mexico Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning
K-12 education has changed a lot over the past three years! Today, many New Mexico families are mixing and matching school options to come up with new ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a commitment to small-group learning and close-knit relationships, along with an emphasis on children as individual learners.
Here are a couple of real examples of microschools and related resources in your state:
- Inspira Learning in Albuquerque is a Christian microschool offering K-5 instruction from a professional teacher, as well as tutoring and enrichment programs.
- Acton Academy microschools currently serve families in Albuquerque and Cedar Crest.
Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school.
Search for Schools Near Me
How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?
7 Step Guide
Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.
Education Resources for
New Mexico Parents
For additional information about school choices in
New Mexico, visit these resources: