Utah School Choice Roadmap

By: National School Choice Week Team

Last Upated: April 15, 2021

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, homeschooling, and learning pods.



Search for Schools Near Me

Thank you for using our school finder tool. This new tool allows families to search for in-person public, charter, magnet, and private schools and learning environments. To identify online schools in your state, please visit our Ultimate Guide to Online School. To learn more about your state’s homeschooling laws, please visit our Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. This tool was developed by National School Choice Week, with data provided in partnership with Public School Review and Private School Review. For more information about this tool please visit our Schools Near Me Frequently Asked Questions page.
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.

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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. Generally, parents are responsible for transportation to the public school of their choice or to a stop on the district’s bus route. In some cases, the previously assigned school will provide transportation if they are trying to relieve overcrowding.

      You can take advantage of open enrollment 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. You may want to learn more about public schools at Utah’s Department of Education website. 

      Parents, educators, and community members can find education-related data about public schools (such as student proficiency and student growth rates) at Utah State Board of Education’s Data Gateway.

      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. For instance, 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. 

      You can also learn more from The Utah Association of Public Charter Schools.

      Parents, educators, and community members can find education-related data about public schools (such as student proficiency and student growth rates) at Utah State Board of Education’s Data Gateway.

      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 currently has just a few magnet schools or programs. The Ogden School District’s public schools have some magnet programs. Salt Lake City School District also offers some magnet extended learning programs.

      Parents, educators, and community members can find education-related data about public schools (such as student proficiency and student growth rates) at Utah State Board of Education’s Data Gateway.

      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. 

      There are more than 100 private schools across the state of Utah. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $11,587 per year, but keep in mind that schools often are more affordable at the elementary level than high school.

      In Utah, there are two state-run scholarship programs to help children with special needs access private school: The Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program and the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship program. Additional funding may be available from other sources.

      Learn more at Private School Review: Utah.

      Utah Online Learning

      Additionally, 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. Moreover, Utah’s My Tech High partners with public schools to offer a full-time, personalized, distance education program for students ages 5 to 18. Parents, educators, and community members can find education-related data about all public schools, including online public schools, at Utah State Board of Education’s Data Gateway.

      Which online options still have seats available and in what grades for 2020-2021?

      As of December 2020, Utah Virtual Academy is accepting applications for all grades 6-12, while Utah Connections Academy is accepting applications for grades K-11. Utah Online School and My Tech High are no longer accepting applications for the 2020-2021 school year.

      Does the school provide technology and wifi?

      Families attending Utah Online School can fill out an application for a computer based on need. Families in grades K-6 at Utah Connections Academy can request one laptop and internet subsidy; families in grades 7-12 must provide their own. At Utah Virtual Academy, a family may request a computer if they qualify for free and reduced lunch. At My Tech High, a technology subsidy up to $300/year may be provided. 

      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.

      In Utah, it is required that you provide a notarized Utah homeschool affidavit prior to starting homeschool. It is also recommended that you formally withdraw your student from their public school so they are not marked truant. In the case that you decide to return to public school in the middle of the school year, contact your local school to find out what their process is. They may require testing.

      You can learn more at the Utah State Board of Education’s Homeschooling page, the Utah Home Education AssociationHome School Legal Defense Association – Utah, and Utah Christian Home School Association.

      Utah 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 Utah. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA here. Note that homeschooled students in Utah may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

      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 Utah classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

      Learning Support Pods:

      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 permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

      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 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

      Utah celebrated National School Choice Week 2021 with 244 virtual events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Utah.

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