Guide to School Choice in Utah

By: National School Choice Week Team

Choosing a school? You’ve got options. 

Wondering about school choice in Utah? There are a variety of options available for Utah families. Knowing these options can help you find learning environment where your child is not just “getting by” at school, but actually thriving and inspired to learn. 

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

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Utah Traditional Public Schools

Many Utah families choose traditional public school for their child. Traditional public schools are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. Did you know that, on average, Utah spends $7,635 per public school student each year? 

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

Utah Charter Schools

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that have extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods. Utah has more than 100 charter schools that parents can choose from; check out a map of charter schools here.

Each school has a charter that explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. That could be providing a Mandarin 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. Charter schools are held accountable to authorizing bodies for student achievement. 

Utah Magnet Schools

Families can also choose magnet schools; these are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. Magnet schools teach all subjects through the lenses of that specific track. Utah has several magnet schools scattered throughout the state. If there is one near you with a theme that interests your child, this could be an exciting school choice to consider. 

Utah Private Schools

Utah families can also choose private schools. These nonpublic schools charge tuition and offer a unique learning environment that may be smaller in size, pass on a specific religious tradition, or provide a different curriculum than is available in your district school. 

Utah students with special needs may qualify for a state-run scholarship program. Additional funding may be available from other sources.

Utah 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 environment in which to focus, you may be interested in giving virtual school a try. 

All Utah students, grades K-12, can enroll full- or part-time in online courses through Utah Online School. All courses are tuition-free. Other free online learning options are also available, such as Utah Connections Academy and Utah Virtual Academy

Also, Utah’s My Tech High partners with public schools to offer a full-time, personalized, distance education program for students ages 5 to 18.

Utah Homeschooling

Utah families can also choose to homeschool, which allows for high levels of customized learning and flexibility. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home and all 50 states allow it. Check here for resources about homeschooling specific to Utah. 

Education Resources for Utah Parents 

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

School Choice Celebrations in Utah

National School Choice Week 2020 will take place January 26 – February 1, 2020. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to sign up to receive a free box of NSCW supplies for celebrations in 2020. Click here for more information.

Utah celebrated National School Choice Week 2019 with a record-breaking 275 events and activities across the state. Governor Gary Herbert issued an official proclamation recognizing January 20-26, 2019 as Utah School Choice Week.

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