- Your State
Last Upated: April 26, 2021
Choosing where your child goes to school is one of the biggest decisions you face. While it may feel intimidating to navigate your school options in Oklahoma and make a choice, you can do it! And remember, each child is unique. So, the “best” school for your neighbor’s child may be different than the “best” school for your child.
A great starting point for choosing a school is knowing your options, and this post will break down the six main learning environments in Oklahoma. In short, you can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and learning pods.
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First off, most Oklahoma families choose traditional public schools, which are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. Did you know that Oklahoma spends $9,250 per public school student each year?
Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. In Oklahoma, students can request a transfer to a school in any district, regardless of where they live. The state does allow districts to set capacity limits for transfer students. If their transfer request is denied, parents can appeal to the local school board to review the case.
If parents request it, their children can be transported by the public school of choice from a stop within that school’s school district, provided parents transport them to the district route. Alternatively, the assigned school district can create an agreement with the new school district to cooperate on transportation.
Open enrollment is an important form of public school choice, widening parents’ options and ensuring that zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education. You may want to learn more about public schools at Oklahoma’s Department of Education website.
Secondly, Oklahoma families can currently choose from about 30 public charter schools. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and typically 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 bodies for results.
Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. For example, that might 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 lottery system (like drawing random names out of a hat!) is usually used to determine admittance.
Oklahoma passed charter school legislation in 1998. You can learn more at the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association.
Depending on where you live, you can also choose magnet schools. These free public schools allow kids to focus on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the arts. Magnet schools teach all subjects through the lenses of that one track. Oklahoma has several magnet schools scattered throughout the state, and these might be a good option if your child learns best by focusing on a subject they are passionate about. For example, districts with magnet schools or programs include Oklahoma City Public Schools , Muskogee Public Schools, Tulsa Public Schools, and more.
Additionally, Oklahoma’s private schools offer unique learning environments that may include smaller class sizes, a specific religious tradition, or a different curriculum than is available in your district school. There are more than 100 private schools across the state of Oklahoma.
Private schools do charge tuition. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $6,326 per year, but keep in mind that schools often are more affordable at the elementary level than high school.
Also, Oklahoma students in certain underperforming schools or who meet certain income guidelines (income at or less than 300% of the free and reduced lunch program) can qualify for state-run scholarship programs. Students with disabilities may be eligible for the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship. If you think a private school may be best for your child, you can also ask if other funding is available through private sources.
Learn more at Private School Review: Oklahoma.
Don’t overlook virtual education! It can offer a uniquely flexible learning environment that meets a variety of family needs. Maybe your child wants to accelerate learning or maybe your child needs a quieter, stress-free environment to focus in. Whatever the case, you may be interested in trying virtual school.
Oklahoma currently offers several online public schools for students, including Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy, Oklahoma Connections Academy, Epic Charter School, Insight School of Oklahoma (grades 6-12), E-School Virtual Charter Academy and Oklahoma Information and Technology School (currently grades 6-7). Part-time supplemental online courses may be available through your public school via the Oklahoma Supplemental Online Course Program. Remember, virtual school is different and it can feel like “drinking from a fire hose” at first. But, for some families, it becomes the perfect fit. Learn more about all of Oklahoma’s virtual learning options at the Oklahoma Virtual Charter School Board.
As of December 2020, Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy and Epic Charter School have seats available in all grades K-12, while Oklahoma Connections Academy has availability in grades K-11. Insight School of Oklahoma has availability in grades 6-12. Oklahoma Information and Technology School is accepting applications in grades 6-7 only. Oklahoma E-School Virtual Charter Academy is no longer accepting applications for the 2020-2021 school year.
Oklahoma Connections Academy does not typically provide technology and wifi to students, but you may be able to apply for technology hardship assistance. Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy and Insight School of Oklahoma do not typically provide technology and wifi either, but you may be able to receive a computer loan at either school based on financial need. At Epic Charter School, a “learning fund” may be available to use for expenses. At E-School Virtual Charter Academy, computers are provided when needed.
You can also choose homeschooling in all 50 states. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home and allows for high levels of customized learning and flexibility.
In Oklahoma, it is not required to send notice of your intent to homeschool to the state or your local school. However, it is recommended that you formally withdraw from your current school so your student is not marked truant. In the case that you decide to return to public school in the middle of the school year, your student will be required to complete a standardized test for placement.
Oklahoma offers limited funding assistance for homeschool families if you are enrolled via a charter.
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.
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 Oklahoma. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA here.
If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. You can read more about what Oklahoma classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.
If your child is going to be enrolled in remote learning through your local public school and supervised by an adult in your learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. Additionally, Oklahoma worked to create 30 “Community HOPE Centers” this school year where underprivileged students can access free virtual learning resources, snacks, and mental health professionals.
Edupreneur Academy offers a free guide for parents interested in learning pods in Oklahoma.
For additional information about school choices in Oklahoma, visit these resources:
National School Choice Week 2022 will take place January 23 – 29, 2022. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Check out ideas, inspiration, and more information!
Oklahoma celebrated National School Choice Week 2021 with 407 virtual events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Oklahoma.
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