“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.
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 $12,915 per public school student each year?
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.
While there are not yet any West Virginia charter schools open, the state passed legislation authorizing charter schools in 2019. 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.
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.
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. Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in West Virginia at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, effective in 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
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 does not offer free, full-time online schools. However, the West Virginia Virtual School offers part-time online courses. Students who do not have access to courses in their home school can take courses for free, but fees apply for summer online courses, and in some other cases.
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. Check here for resources about homeschooling specific to West Virginia.
For additional information about school choices in West Virginia, visit these resources:
National School Choice Week 2020 will take place January 26 – February 1, 2020. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information!
West Virginia will celebrate National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 395 events and activities across the state. Learn more about some of these celebrations at schoolchoiceweek.com/states/west-virginia/.
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