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Last Upated: September 27, 2021
“What are my school choices in West Virginia?” It’s a great question. There are a variety of options available for West Virginia families. Knowing these options can help you find a learning environment where your child is actively learning and growing.
Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in West Virginia at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.
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Most West Virginia 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, on average, West Virginia spends $12,010 per public school student each year? You can search your school’s spending and that of nearby schools at Project Nickel.
In West Virginia, the state allows each district decides to set its own open enrollment policies. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. Open enrollment is an important way that parents have access to a broader variety of public schools; if you would like to participate in open enrollment, contact your school district to learn if this is an option available to you.
Find out more about public schools in your state here:West Virginia Department of Education.
Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and usually have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is that they have extra freedom to innovate with learning methods. Public charter schools are accountable to authorizing bodies (like school districts or colleges) for results.
While there are not yet any West Virginia charter schools open, the state passed legislation authorizing charter schools in 2019. In 2021, the state passed a law creating a new authorizer for charter schools. It also expanded the number of charter schools that could be established in a three-year period from three to 10 schools and allowed for up to two statewide virtual charter schools. One group is attempting to open West Virginia’s first charter school by fall of 2022.
Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be providing a language 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.
Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. West Virginia has a handful of magnet schools scattered throughout the state, and these might be a good option if your child learns best by focusing in on a subject they are passionate about. For example, you can read about some of the magnet choices in the Kanawha County Schools.
Families in West Virginia can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. West Virginia’s private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs.
Starting in 2022, West Virginia students currently enrolled in public school or about to enter kindergarten may be eligible for the Hope Scholarship, which allows families to use their education tax dollars for private school tuition, tutoring, or other educational expenses. Also, effective in 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Learn more at Private School Review: West Virginia.
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. West Virginia public school students can access part-time or full-time online learning for free through the West Virginia Virtual School. Enrollment takes place through a student’s local school district, which may set guidelines and determine the number of courses a student can take. Non-public and homeschool students can access the virtual courses by enrolling as a part-time student in their local school. Fees apply for summer online courses, and in some other cases.
In some cases, districts have developed their own virtual offerings. The West Virginia Department of Education’s school recovery guidance for the 2021-2022 school year says that virtual school should be available, at least for grades 6-12.
There are also paid, full-time online options, such as George Washington University Online High School, The Keystone School, and K12 International Academy, that are available to students in any state.
West Virginia families can also choose to homeschool, which allows for high levels of customized learning and flexibility. All 50 states allow the process of parents educating students at home.
In West Virginia, notice of your intent to homeschool if required either by seeking school board approval or by submitting a notice of intent. This notice of intent is required before you begin homeschooling or when moving to a new county. It is recommended that you formally withdraw from your public 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, the process varies by school district. Contact your local school to find out their process, testing may be required.
While misinformation about homeschooling has recently spread in a couple of West Virginia counties, the truth is that homeschool students in West Virginia receive credit, diplomas, and transcripts recognized by state law.
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 West Virginia… 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 West Virginia 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 enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee.
For additional information about school choices in West Virginia, 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!
West Virginia celebrated National School Choice Week 2021 with 232 virtual events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in West Virginia.
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