Sector: Private Schools

Utah State Guide

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 a 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 learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.

Interested in learning more about Utah’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program? Check out our deep dive blog on the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program!

Utah Traditional Public Schools

Many Utah families choose traditional public school for their child. Currently, 82.9% of students are attending a traditional public school in Utah. 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 $9,095 per public school student each year? You can search your school’s spending and that of nearby schools at Project Nickel.

Utah is one of just a few states with 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. For a real-world example of the application process and deadlines, check out Salt Lake City School Districts’ open enrollment guidelines.

In Utah, you cannot be charged tuition for being a transfer student. 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 the Utah State Board of Education. You can also learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools Without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”

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 130 charter schools that parents can choose from; check out a map of these charter schools. Currently, 11.1% of K-12 students in Utah attend a public charter school.

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 performing arts 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 learn more from The Utah Association of Public Charter Schools or the Utah Charter School Conversations podcast. You can also read frequently asked questions about charter schools at the Utah State Board of Education, one of the authorizers for charter schools in your state.

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. If there is one near you with a theme that interests your child, this could be an exciting school choice to consider. Currently, 1.5% of all K-12 students in Utah attend a magnet school. In Utah, the Ogden School District has some magnet programs, such as a gifted and talented program and a space science program. Salt Lake City School District also offers some magnet extended learning programs. Plus, Washington County School District has recently launched a new magnet high school for career and technical education.

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 about 180 private schools across the state of Utah. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $10,962 for elementary schools and $13,036 for high schools.

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.

Also, a new scholarship open to all Utah students has launched for the 2024-2025 school year: the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program. This education savings account program will give $8,000 in flexible education funding to families choosing to enroll in a nonpublic school option, like private school. Besides private school tuition, families may be able to use the funds for other customized learning needs, including tutoring services, educational software, individual classes at a local public school, or dual enrollment at a technical college. Currently, 0.2% of all K-12 students in Utah are participating in a private school choice program.

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-time 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.

Mountain Heights Academy is another free online public option for students in grades 7-12. The school is the first secondary school in the country to create and publicly release its own curriculum as an “open educational resource” freely available for anyone’s use. 

Additionally, a number of Utah school districts developed their own online school programs during the pandemic, some of which continue to be options even for out-of-district students

You can also check out Utah’s Statewide Online Education Program, which allows 6th-12th grade students regularly enrolled in public, private, or homeschool to enroll in up to six online course credits per academic year. The program gathers approved online courses to make it easy for families to access courses not available at their regular school. 

More than 24,000 students enrolled in fully online schools in Utah for fall of 2022. 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. To read more about online learning in Utah, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

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 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. 

The state does not define specific subjects that homeschooling parents must teach, and does not require standardized testing for homeschoolers. Note that homeschooled students in Utah may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

A new scholarship open to all Utah students, including all homeschoolers, will launch for the 2024-2025 school year: the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program. This education savings account program will give $8,000 in flexible education funding to families choosing to enroll in a nonpublic school option, like homeschool. Besides homeschool curriculum, families may be able to use the funds for other customized learning needs, including tutoring services, educational software, individual classes at a local public school, or dual enrollment at a technical college.

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 Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning

Today, some Utah families are mixing and matching school options to come up with new ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a distinct commitment to small-group learning, close-knit relationships, and an emphasis on children as individual learners.

Here are a few real examples of innovative learning choices and related resources in Utah:

  • CHOICE Learning Center is an Acton Academy affiliate in Bountiful with a focus on learning as a lifelong endeavor. Aim Academy also operates Acton-affiliated campuses in Utah. Acton Academy also has a school located in Cache Valley.

 

  • My Tech High, based out of Utah, offers flexible, student-tailored learning arrangements where students enroll full-time in a public school but learn online, locally in-person, or in a hybrid format.

 

  • Besides offering support for homeschoolers, Homeschool Hub Utah offers a list of hybrid education options for homeschool families wanting to partner with schools for specialized instruction and special education resources. 

 

  • In this Forbes article, Kerry McDonald has shone light on some of the regulatory challenges that microschools in Utah face. 

 

 

Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school. 

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Download School Choice Snapshot for Utah

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What is School Choice

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Choosing the Right School

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

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Search for Schools Near Me

School Type
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.
Grade Levels

Microschooling and Mix-and-Match Learning

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

Read More

7 Step Guide

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

View Guide

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Texas State Guide

Choosing a school? You’ve got options.

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

In Texas, families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.

Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Texas at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

Texas Traditional Public Schools

Most Texas families choose traditional public schools, which are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. Currently, 81.3% of K-12 students attend a traditional public school. Did you know that, on average, Texas spends $11,005 per public school student each year?  

In Texas, 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. Parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. As an example, Socorro Independent School District allows families to switch schools within the district for qualifying reasons, including afterschool care needs or having a sibling at another school. Note that if your child attends a school on the Texas Public Education Grant list of poorly-performing schools, you are automatically allowed to request a transfer. 

Open enrollment is a valuable choice, widening parents’ options and ensuring that their zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education. Texas’ public schools come in all different flavors. Burbank Middle School, for instance, has a strong dual-language program. And Dallas ISD’s offerings range from International Baccalaureate schools to STEM schools. 

Find out more about public schools in your state at the Texas Education Agency. You can also learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”

Texas Charter Schools

Texas has had charter schools as an option for more than 20 years. 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 learning methods and they are accountable to authorizing bodies for results. 

In Texas, 7% of all K-12 students attend a public charter school. Parents can choose from more than 700 charter schools in Texas. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. That could be providing a STEM 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. 

You can read more about these charter offerings at the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Public Charter Schools Association.

Texas Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as an International Baccalaureate program or the performing arts. Magnet schools teach all subjects through the lenses of that specific track. If your child learns well through diving deeply into a particular subject, a magnet school could be a good fit. Currently, 3.8% of all K-12 students attend a public magnet school in Texas.

Texas has many magnet schools. For example, Aldine ISD, Dallas ISD, DeSoto ISD, Galveston ISD, Houston ISD, and Richardson ISD all offer magnet choices. These schools have themes ranging from linguistics to applied technology. One of the state’s newest magnet school programs is the Space and Engineering Technologies Academy (SETA), opening in North East ISD in 2023.

You may also be interested in checking out U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of Texas’ magnet high schools. Please note that the list may not be exhaustive and you should check with your local district about options near you.

Texas Private Schools

Private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition, offer a unique learning environment that may include a smaller class size, pass on a specific religious tradition, or provide a different curriculum than is available in your district school. 

There are about 2,000 private schools across the state of Texas. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $10,076 for elementary schools and $11,515 for high schools.

There are no state-run scholarship options in Texas, but private scholarships may be available to help families access private school. Also, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.

Learn more at ACE Scholarships-Texas, the Texas Catholic School Directory, the Texas Private Schools Association, and Private School Review: Texas.

Texas 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.

Texas offers several free, full-time online learning options for students, including tuition-free online schooling through the Texas Virtual School Network’s Online Schools. For the 2023-2024 school year, full-time online schools to choose from in the Texas Virtual School Network include:  iUniversity Prep, Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville, Texas Connections Academy at Houston, Texas Online Preparatory School, eSchool Prep, Digital Academy of Texas, and iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas. Meanwhile, TEXAS Virtual Schools offers eSchool Prep and Lone Star Academy as statewide options.

For Texas district and charter schools, state funding has historically been based on the number of students physically present in classrooms, which has made it tough for schools to fund virtual learning. Still, some school districts and charter networks have developed online schools, such as such as Harmony Virtual Academy and South Texas ISD Virtual Academy. In 2021, Texas lawmakers passed a funding bill to help districts cover the costs of virtual learning. According to the law, district and charter schools that received a C or higher in the latest accountability ratings can receive funding for students enrolled in full-time remote learning in their boundaries. In some cases, district online options may be available to out-of-district students through open enrollment.

Students can also choose part-time options through the Texas Virtual School Network.

To read more about online learning in Texas, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

Texas Homeschooling

Texas 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. The Texas Homeschool Coalition estimates that more than 750,000 students in the state are homeschooled.

The state requires homeschooling parents to teach certain subjects (including math, spelling, and good citizenship), but does not require homeschoolers to take standardized tests. In some cases, homeschooled students may still be eligible to participate in sports or activities at local public schools.

In Texas, it is not required that you provide notice of your intent to homeschool; however, 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, contact your local school to find out their placement process.

You may also want to check out the Texas Education Agency’s Homeschooling page, the Texas Homeschool Coalition, the Home School Legal Defense Association – Texas, and the  Arlington Association of Home Educators.

Texas Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning

Today, many Texas families are mixing and matching school options to come up with new ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a distinct commitment to small-group learning, close-knit relationships, and an emphasis on children as individual learners.

Here are real examples of microschools and related resources in Texas:

 

 

 

 

  • Dallas Hybrid Preparatory is a district-run, hybrid learning arrangement that allows students in grades 4-6 to learn at a “small, boutique campus” two days a week, and at home three three days a week.

 

  • Leading Little Arrows is a hybrid school and multi-cultural co-op located in Arlington that embraces and celebrates students’ diverse cultural backgrounds.

 

  • Spyrja Academy offers a blended learning environment for homeschoolers and students enrolled in online schools, with a focus on innovative instruction and community engagement for high school students.

 

  • Safari Small Schools is an innovative microschool that specializes in serving children with behavioral challenges.

 

  • Great Hearts Online, a classical virtual academy, is piloting classical learning microschools in Texas for families enrolled in their online program.

 

  • Veritas Academy is a “collaborative” hybrid school that focuses on family leadership and togetherness in learning.

 

 

  • In an effort to keep learning pods a flexible choice for families, Texas legislators passed a bill in 2021 to protect learning pods from burdensome government regulations.

 

 

Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school. 

Download the School Choice Snapshot for Texas

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What is School Choice

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

Read More

Choosing the Right School

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

Get Tips

Search for Schools Near Me

School Type
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.
Grade Levels

Microschooling and Mix-and-Match Learning

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

Read More

7 Step Guide

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

View Guide

Education Resources for
Texas Parents

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

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Tennessee State Guide

Choosing a school? You’ve got options.

Each spring, parents face one of the biggest decisions they can make for their child’s future: What school environment will their child spend about 1,000 hours in next year? 

Making that decision with confidence starts with knowing what options you have; you may have more school choices in Tennessee than you realize! Understanding these options can help you find a school where your child grows and learns to the best of their ability. Tennessee families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.

Interested in learning more about Tennessee’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program? Check out our deep dive blog to guide you through it!

Tennessee Traditional Public Schools

Most Tennessee 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, Tennessee spends $10,507 per public school student each year? 

Tennessee has more than 1,700 public schools. Currently, 78% of all K-12 students attend a traditional public school in Tennessee. Since fall 2022, all school districts in Tennessee have offered an open enrollment period. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. Tennessee’s expanding open enrollment options mean that parents may be able to transfer their child to any public school, regardless of where they live. However, note that in some cases, receiving districts in Tennessee charge fees for out-of-district students. 

Open enrollment is an important way that parents have access to a broader variety of public schools. Find out more about public schools in your state at the Tennessee Department of Education or the online dashboard of the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office. You can also learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”

Tennessee Charter Schools

Tennessee has more than 110 public charter schools, many of them in Memphis and Nashville. In Tennessee, 4% of all K-12 students attend a public charter school. 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 learning methods and are accountable to authorizing entities for student 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. 

Tennessee’s first charter school, Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, was founded in 2003. Today, Tennessee’s charter schools serve more than 38,000 children. You can learn more about your state’s charter options at the TN Charter School Center.

Tennessee Magnet Schools

You can also choose magnet schools! In Tennessee, 7.2% of all K-12 students attend a public magnet school. Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as an International Baccalaureate program or the performing arts. A magnet school teaches all subjects through the lenses of that specific track. Tennessee has several magnet schools. For example, the Hamilton County School District, Knox County School District, Metropolitan Nashville Public School District, Rutherford County School District, and Shelby County School District all offer magnet choices, among others. If your child learns well through diving deeply into a particular subject, a magnet school could be a good fit. 

Tennessee Private Schools

Tennessee 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 550 private schools across the state of Tennessee. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $10,444 for elementary schools and $11,086 for high schools.

Some tuition assistance is available. In Tennessee, students with special needs may be eligible for a publicly funded Individualized Education Account. In 2022, this program was expanded to include students with dyslexia. Also, low-income and middle-income students zoned to attend a Shelby County District school, Hamilton County or Metro Nashville Public School may qualify for a state-funded education savings account to attend a private school of their choice. Families can find an enrollment form and more details at the Tennessee Department of Education. Additional funding may be available from other sources. Currently, 0.2% of all K-12 students in Tennessee participate in a private school choice program.

Learn more at Private School Review: Tennessee. You can also find information about private schools at the online dashboard of the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

Tennessee Online Learning

Don’t overlook virtual learning, which offers a uniquely flexible learning environment that meets a variety of family needs. Whether your child wants to accelerate learning or needs a quieter, stress-free environment in which to focus, you may be interested in trying online school.

Virtual schools in Tennessee are overseen by school districts. While some virtual schools may be open only to in-district students, others (like Tennessee Virtual Academy and Tennessee Connections Academy) serve students statewide.

As of 2024, Tennessee has more than 50 virtual schools! Schools that are approved to serve all grades K-12 statewide include Bradley County Virtual School (currently serving grades 3-12), Greene Online Academy of Learning (currently serving grades 6-12), Maryville Virtual School (currently serving grades 2-12), Memphis Virtual School (currently serving grades 4-12), Putnam County VITAL (currently serving grades 3-12), the iLearn Institute at Lenoir City, Tennessee Online Public SchoolHawkins County Virtual AcademyPioneer Virtual Academy, and Roane County Virtual Academy.

You can find a complete list of Tennessee’s virtual schools, both those that enroll statewide and those designed for local students, at the Tennessee Department of Education. More than 10,000 students in Tennessee used a fully online schooling option in 2020-2021!

To read more about online learning in Tennessee, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

Tennessee Homeschooling

Families can also choose to homeschool. This option allows for high levels of customized learning and flexibility. All 50 states allow homeschooling, the process of parents educating students at home.

In Tennessee, 1.5% of all K-12 students are homeschooled. If you are an independent homeschool, it is required that you provide notice of intent to homeschool before the school year or upon choosing to homeschool and annually thereafter. Formally withdrawing from public school is required in some districts and recommended for all districts. If you decide to return to public school, your school will assess to determine grade level placement.

While the state doesn’t lay out specific subjects that homeschooling families must teach, it does require that homeschooling students take standardized tests in some grades. Note that homeschooled students in Tennessee may still be eligible to participate in sports or activities at local public schools.

Tennessee offers funding assistance for students with special needs through the Special Needs Individualized Education Account Program.

You can learn more at the Tennessee Department of Education’s Homeschooling page, Home School Legal Defense Association – Tennessee, and the Tennessee Home Education Association.

Tennessee Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning

K-12 education is changing rapidly. Today, many Tennessee families are mixing and matching school options to come up with new ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a distinct commitment to small-group learning, close-knit relationships, and an emphasis on children as individual learners.

Here are just a few real examples of microschools in Tennessee: 

  • The Lab School is an innovative microschool located in the heart of Memphis that serves children ages 5-11.

 

  • Discovery Learners’ Academy is a nontraditional microschool in Chattanooga offering personalized academics, social emotional coaching, and discovery-based science and social studies.

 

  • Imani Montessori is a microschool and homeschool umbrella in East Nashville that seeks to cultivate free thinkers, creative, compassionate, and committed global citizens in service to humanity.

 

Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school. 

Download the School Choice Snapshot for Tennessee

Download Snapshot

What is School Choice

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

Read More

Choosing the Right School

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

Get Tips

Search for Schools Near Me

School Type
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.
Grade Levels

Microschooling and Mix-and-Match Learning

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

Read More

7 Step Guide

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

View Guide

Education Resources for
Tennessee Parents

For additional information about school choice in
Tennessee, visit these resources:

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South Dakota State Guide

Choosing a school? You’ve got options.

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 South Dakota and make a choice, you can do it!

The best starting point for choosing a good school fit is knowing your options. This post will break down the main learning environments available in your state. In South Dakota, families can choose from traditional public schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning. While not currently options in South Dakota, most other states also offer families public charter schools and public magnet schools

Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in South Dakota at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

South Dakota Traditional Public Schools

Most South Dakota 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. In South Dakota, 80.7% of all K-12 students attend a traditional public school. Did you know that, on average, South Dakota spends $10,952 per public school student each year? 

South Dakota has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in South Dakota, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. While the deadline for transfers between districts is the last Friday in September, a transfer within your district may be possible throughout the year.

For an example of the transfer process and timeline, check out Rapid City Area Schools’ guidelines. Generally, parents are responsible for their children’s transportation to a school they’ve selected through open enrollment, but districts can choose to cooperate to provide transportation. 

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. 

Find out more about public schools in your state at the South Dakota Department of Education. You can also learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”

South Dakota Charter Schools

South Dakota is one of only four states that have not yet passed laws allowing public charter schools. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that have extra freedom to innovate. They are accountable to an authorizing entity for student achievement. Each school’s charter describes what unique community need the school seeks to fill, and the school may be authorized by a governing body, a college, or a school board. 

While South Dakota families cannot yet choose public charters, this may be an option in the future. You can sign up for updates at South Dakota Charter Schools.

South Dakota Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as an International Baccalaureate program or the performing arts. Magnet schools teach all subjects through the lenses of that specific track. If your child learns well through diving deeply into a particular subject, a magnet school could be a good fit. 

South Dakota is one of five states that do not currently have any freestanding magnet schools. There may be magnet programs in traditional public schools, and the law allows for independent magnet schools, so stay tuned in the future! 

South Dakota Private Schools

Families can also choose private school. South Dakota’s private schools are nonpublic schools that charge tuition and have more freedom in the curricula and structure of learning environment. Private schools may offer unique programming, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition.

There are more than 80 private schools across the state of South Dakota serving about 15,000 students. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $3,837 for elementary schools and $6,369 for high schools.

In South Dakota, families with income below 150% of the federal free and reduced-price lunch program ($77,006 for a family of four in 2022) may be eligible for a private school scholarship through the Partners in Education Tax Credit Program. Currently, about 41% of South Dakota families are eligible for the scholarship. In South Dakota, 0.8% of all K-12 students participate in this program. In 2022, a bill passed that made students in foster care eligible for the program and increased the scholarship cap. Additionally, in 2024, a bill has been passed that will raise the cap on the tax-credit scholarship program from $3.5 million to $5 million. This will allow more K-12 students in South Dakota to benefit from the program!

Additional funding may be available from other sources. Learn more at Private School Review: South Dakota.

South Dakota 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. South Dakota families may be able to take free, online learning courses through their local school district if it participates in an online learning community.

The South Dakota Virtual School, in conjunction with the state Department of Education, offers a list of approved providers for online courses. Students coordinate with and register through their local district to take these online classes. Whether the student’s district will absorb the cost of the classes or will require the student to pay a fee varies by district. Some districts allow students to take online classes full-time, some allow students to take online classes part-time, and some do not allow for online learning. Students taking online courses remain enrolled in their home district and follow their district’s policies. Typically, registration is only open at certain times of the year and families must supply their own computer and internet access. 

Besides the South Dakota Virtual School offerings, a few districts may offer their own online options, like Rapid City Area Schools’ online learning program.

Finally, keep in mind that there are paid, full-time online school options that are available to students in all 50 states, South Dakota included. Some of these are George Washington University Online High SchoolThe Keystone School, Excel High School, and K12 Private Academy.

To read more about online learning in South Dakota, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

South Dakota Homeschooling

South Dakota 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; all 50 states allow it.

In South Dakota, 5.7% of all K-12 students are homeschooled. It is required that you provide notice of your intent to homeschool within 30 days of beginning homeschooling. It is also required that you formally withdraw from your public school. In the case that you decide to switch back to public school, South Dakota schools may use a credit-by-exam program for placement.

Currently, the state requires homeschooling parents to include language arts and math in their curriculum, but standardized tests are not currently required.

Is your child an athlete? According to a bill passed in 2021 to empower parental choice, any homeschool student in South Dakota is eligible to participate in athletics, fine arts, or other activities sponsored by the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

Learn more details about homeschooling specific to South Dakota

South Dakota Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning

Today, many South Dakota families are mixing and matching school options to come up with new ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a distinct commitment to small-group learning, close-knit relationships, and an emphasis on children as individual learners.

Here are some examples of  innovative, microschool-style learning environments in your state:

Grounding Roots is a homeschool co-op of holistically minded families teaching project-based learning and nature learning, from candle-making to art techniques.

Onward Learning is a community-led school that serves preschool to 8th-grade students with a child-centered and love-based approach to learning.

St. Joseph Academy is a Catholic classical school for Pre-K to 8th grade opening at St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, SD.

Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school. 

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Choosing the Right School

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Search for Schools Near Me

School Type
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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South Carolina State Guide

Choosing a school? You’ve got options.

Each spring, parents face one of the biggest decisions they can make for their child’s future: What school environment will their child spend about 1,000 hours in next year? Let’s dive in to School Choice in South Carolina.

Making that decision with confidence starts with knowing what options you have; you may have more school choices than you realize! Understanding these options can help you find a school where your child grows and learns to the best of their ability. South Carolina families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.

Interested in learning more about South Carolina’s new scholarship program? Check out our deep dive blog on South Carolina’s Education Savings Account (ESA)!

South Carolina Traditional Public Schools

Most South Carolina families choose traditional public schools, which are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. In South Carolina, about 73.6% of all K-12 students attend a traditional public school. Did you know that, on average, South Carolina spends $12,496 per public school student each year? You can search your school’s spending and that of nearby schools at Project Nickel.

In South Carolina, the state allows each district 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. South Carolina parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. As an example, Richland County School District One generally requires students to attend their zoned public school, but does allow for transfers in some cases, such as unique program offerings, childcare needs, and instances of hardship. In most cases, parents are in charge of transportation if they choose open enrollment in South Carolina. 

Open enrollment is an important way that parents can access more public school choices. You can learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools Without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”

In 2023, South Carolina passed a law to make public school enrollment easier for military families, asking school districts to provide more flexibility to families when it comes to residency documents. Find out more about public schools in your state at the South Carolina Department of Education. 

South Carolina Charter Schools

South Carolina families can choose from more than 80 charter schools, including several virtual 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 have extra freedom to innovate with learning methods and are accountable to authorizing bodies for results. In South Carolina, 5.8% of all K-12 students attend a public charter school. 

Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. That might be providing a Spanish immersion program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. At one South Carolina charter school we talked to, a guidance counselor even founded a Boys’ Leadership Academy program to encourage students to give back to the community. 

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. Charter school enrollment has been on the rise in South Carolina the last five years. At least four new charter schools opened in fall 2023, with 13 more approved to open.

You can learn more about your state’s charter options at the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina.

South Carolina Magnet Schools

You can also choose from magnet schools! Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. In South Carolina, 10% of all K-12 students attend a public magnet school.

Dr. Michael Lofton, founder of South Carolina’s Spring Hill High School, gave us this example of how a magnet school works: “As a class works through a math unit, a teacher at [a magnet school] will embed a project-based learning activity that relates to that class of students’ interests. That helps to hook the students into the math component. We find that by doing this, the kids study it deeper. No matter where they go to school, they’re going to take Algebra 2 before they graduate. Our program just has more project-based learning experiences that the kids get while they’re learning their curriculum. They really tend to delve a little bit deeper into study if they enjoy it more and it’s something that they want to relate to.” 

South Carolina has many magnet choices 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 instance, districts with magnet choices include Fairfield County School District, Florence County School District Three, Pickens County School District, Lexington-Richland School District Five, Richland County School District One, and Richland School District Two. Meanwhile, Georgetown County School District is in the process of transforming five schools into magnet schools. A full directory of magnet schools and programs in the state can be found at the South Carolina Department of Education

South Carolina Private Schools

Families in South Carolina 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. South Carolina’s private schools come in all shapes and forms. 

There are more than 420 private schools across the state of South Carolina. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $7,869 for elementary schools and $7,921 for high schools.

In South Carolina, if your child has a disability and you believe the assigned public school does not meet his or her needs, you can apply to the Exceptional Needs Children Fund and may be able to receive a scholarship toward private school. Additionally, the state offers a refundable educational credit program where parents may receive a tax credit for learning expenses for special needs students.

Starting 2024, low-income families can apply to receive up to $6,000 of flexible education funding for private school tuition and other approved expenses through a new scholarship program. You can learn if you are eligible to apply in our full explainer.

Learn more at the South Carolina Catholic School Directory and Private School Review: South Carolina.

South Carolina Online Learning

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.

South Carolina offers several free, full-time online learning options for students, like South Carolina Virtual Charter SchoolSouth Carolina Connections AcademySC Whitmore School, the South Carolina Preparatory AcademyOdyssey Online Learning, and Cyber Academy of South Carolina. For 2023-2024, a new virtual school is opening: Heron Virtual Academy of South Carolina, which will specialize in serving high-risk highschoolers and students with special learning needs.

In addition, public, private, and homeschooled students in grades 6-12 in South Carolina can enroll in tuition-free online classes through the state virtual school, Virtual SC. VirtualSC recommends taking a maximum of four classes at a time, and families should work with their school to arrange their schedule and sign up. Some schools partner with VirtualSC to offer a blended learning experience via Virtual Learning Labs where students take online courses in a lab setting with a course facilitator. 

Also, some South Carolina districts offer their own online programming. Examples of this include Pickens County Virtual AcademyGreenville Public Schools’ Virtual Program, and Horry County School Virtual.

To read more about online learning in South Carolina, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

South Carolina Homeschooling

South Carolina 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 is permitted in all 50 states. 

In South Carolina, 3.7% of all K-12 students are homeschooled. If you are homeschooling under a homeschool statute, an application must be submitted to the board of trustees prior to starting. It is recommended that you formally withdraw from your public school so your student is not marked truant. 

The state requires homeschooling parents to teach specific subjects (like reading, math, and science) and also requires annual standardized tests for students using the homeschool statute. If your child is an athlete, note that homeschooled students in South Carolina may still be eligible to participate in sports or activities at local public schools.

You can learn more at the South Carolina Department of Education’s Homeschooling page, Home School Legal Defense Association – South Carolina, the South Carolina Home Educators Association, the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools, Hometown Homeschool Association of South Carolina, and the Grow & Learn on Weekdays (GLOW).

South Carolina Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning

Today, many South Carolina families are blending school options to come up with creative ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a commitment to small-group learning and close-knit relationships, along with an emphasis on children as individual learners. 

Here are real examples of microschools and related resources in your state:  

In Charleston, Classeteria is a growing learning where homeschoolers come together for enrichment classes and hands-on projects. 

Ignite Learning Center in Greenville offers a two-day class model supporting homeschoolers, un-schoolers, and other families looking for non-traditional education.

Hart Academy is a cottage school in Charleston founded by a former public school teacher inspired by the idea of hybrid homeschooling. 

The Success Center in Goose Creek offers tutoring services and microschool learning for K-12 students.

Peace of Mind microschool in Columbia offers individualized, small group work that blends online learning and hands-on lessons. 

A Home For School offers a student-centered approach for homeschoolers and students in accredited virtual schools, where diversity is celebrated and each child’s unique culture is honored.

Mariner Learning Collaborative is a non-profit learning center for ages 10 to 19 that combines homeschooling with classes, workshops, and tutoring taught by staff, parents, and community volunteers.

Launched in 2024, South Carolina’s new Education Scholarship Trust Fund Program makes private school, tutoring, and other personalized learning expenses a more affordable choice for economically disadvantaged children.

Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school. 

Download the School Choice Snapshot for South Carolina

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What is School Choice

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Choosing the Right School

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

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Search for Schools Near Me

School Type
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.
Grade Levels

Microschooling and Mix-and-Match Learning

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Rhode Island State Guide

Choosing a school? You’ve got options.

If you’re looking for a great school for your child, you’re not alone. Thousands of other parents are making school choice options for their children in Rhode Island every year. You can do it!

There are a variety of K-12 education options available for Rhode Island families. Knowing these options can help you find a learning environment where your child is able not just to “get by” at school, but to learn and thrive.  

In Rhode Island, families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.

Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Rhode Island at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

Rhode Island Traditional Public Schools

Most Rhode Island families choose traditional public schools, which are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by federal, state, and local government. Rhode Island spends, on average, $18,366 per public school pupil each year. In Rhode Island, 79.4% of all K-12 students are enrolled in traditional public schools.

In Rhode Island, the state allows each district 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. Rhode Island parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. In some cases, the state provides transportation for students who attend a school outside their city or town. 

The transfer process and timeline will vary by district. For a real-world example, check out North Providence School Department’s guidelines for transfers within the district.

Open enrollment can be a valuable form of public school choice, widening parents’ options and ensuring that their zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their children’s education. You can find out more about public schools in your state at the Rhode Island Department of Education. You can also learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools Without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”

Rhode Island Charter Schools

Rhode Island families can currently choose from about 35 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 learning methods and are accountable to authorizing bodies for results. In Rhode Island, 8.1% of all K-12 students are enrolled in public charter schools.

Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. That could be providing a STEM 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.

The application period for charter school enrollment in Rhode Island is typically late-November through mid-March. In 2022, a record number of families applied to Rhode Island charters — schools received 23,263 applications for 2,353 available seats!

Rhode Island first passed charter school legislation in 1995. Charter schools may be authorized by school districts, nonprofit organizations, colleges, or even the mayor of a city or town. Learn more about the state’s charters at The Rhode Island League of Charter Schools.

Rhode Island Magnet Schools

Magnet schools 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 track. Rhode Island has just a couple of magnet schools at present, such as Classical High School in Providence, which focuses on study of the arts, languages, and humanities.  If you live near a magnet school and its theme interests your child, it could be an exciting option to consider. 

Rhode Island Private Schools

Families can also choose private schools. These are nonpublic schools that charge tuition and come in all shapes and sizes. Private schools offer a unique learning environment that may be smaller in size, pass on a faith tradition, or provide a curriculum not available in your district school. 

At Providence Hebrew Day School, for instance, students receive an education rooted in Jewish tradition. “My perspective is never on removing or taking away from the public schools, but much more just to highlight the strengths of a strong private school education and how the kids end up and where they go,” said dean Rabbi Scheinerman. “Every parent should be entitled to pick and choose the education that works best for their kids.”

There are about 170 private schools across the state of Rhode Island. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $13,492 for elementary schools and $27,082 for high schools.

Rhode Island students whose family incomes are at or below 250% of the poverty level ($69,375 for a family of four in 2022-2023) are eligible for private school scholarships of varying amounts. In 2022, nearly 500 (0.3%) students participated in the scholarship program and received an average of $2,890 in scholarship funding. 

Learn more at the Diocese of Providence Catholic School Directory, the Rhode Island Scholarship Alliance, and Private School Review: Rhode Island.

Rhode Island 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 learning or needs a quieter, stress-free environment to focus in, you may be interested in trying virtual school.

While most states offer free, full-time online learning, Rhode Island does not currently do so. Rhode Island Connections Academy offered a free, full-time online learning option for Rhode Island students in 2021 and 2022, but closed at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. 

However, there are paid, full-time online learning options available to students in all 50 states, Rhode Island included. These paid options include George Washington University Online High SchoolThe Keystone School, Excel High School, and K12 Private Academy.

Plus, most Rhode Island students can enroll in part-time online courses through their local school district. You can contact your local public school to ask whether there are free or paid online options available to you. The Rhode Island Department of Education’s All Course Network is one option for taking individual online courses.

Finally, some districts offer hybrid programs, including the Village Green Virtual Public Charter High SchoolNowell Leadership Academy, Pleasant View Elementary School, Highlander Charter School, and Providence Career and Technical Academy.

To read more about online learning in Rhode Island, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

Rhode Island Homeschooling

Rhode Island families can also choose to homeschool, a great option if you are looking for high levels of personalization in learning. All 50 states allow homeschooling, which is the process of parents educating students at home.

In Rhode Island, 1.2% of all K-12 students are homeschooled. It is required that you provide notice of your intent to homeschool prior to starting. The state requires homeschooling parents to teach certain subjects (like reading, writing, and physical education), but does not require homeschoolers to take standardized tests. Note that homeschooled students in Rhode Island may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools, though restrictions may apply.

Formally withdrawing from public school is required in some districts and recommended in all. In the case that you decide to return to public school, notify your district committee. 

You can learn more about Rhode Island homeschooling at the state’s Department of Education page, or check out this great how-to from the Home School Legal Defense Association

Rhode Island Microschooling and Mix-and-Match Learning

Today, many Rhode Island families are mixing and matching school options to come up with new ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a commitment to small-group learning and close-knit relationships, along with an emphasis on children as individual learners. 

Here are real examples of microschools and related resources in your state:  

 

 

  • Orchid Montessori is a Wildflower Montessori-affiliated microschool for young learners  in East Providence.

 

Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school. 

Download the School Choice Snapshot for Rhode Island

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What is School Choice

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Choosing the Right School

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

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Search for Schools Near Me

School Type
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.
Grade Levels

Microschooling and Mix-and-Match Learning

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Rhode Island Parents

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Rhode Island, visit these resources:

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Pennsylvania State Guide

Choosing a school? You’ve got options.

Deciding where to send your child to school is a big decision, and you have access to more K-12 education options than you might realize. Navigating your school choice options in Pennsylvania can help you find a school where your child thrives! This post will breakdown the main types of schools available to you,  as well as provide additional education resources and school choice news.

Pennsylvania families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling. We’ll also cover how microschooling and mix-and-match learning fit into the school landscape!

Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Pennsylvania at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

Pennsylvania Traditional Public Schools

In Pennsylvania, 76.6% of all K-12 students are enrolled in traditional public schools. These schools are operated by districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. Did you know that, on average, Pennsylvania spends $17,884 per public school student each year? 

In Pennsylvania, the state allows each district 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. So, Pennsylvania parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district about whether this is an option for them. Open enrollment is a valuable form of public school choice, expanding parents’ options and ensuring that their zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education.

For a real-world example, check out Lancaster School District’s guidelines for both intradistrict and interdistrict transfers. Find out more about public schools in your state at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. You can also learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools Without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”

Pennsylvania Charter Schools

Charter schools are another important option for Pennsylvania families. 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 learning methods and are accountable to authorizing bodies for results. 

In Pennsylvania, 8.4% of all K-12 students attend a public charter school. Pennsylvania families can choose from more than 180 public charter schools, including several cyber charter schools. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves. That could look like a Spanish immersion program or 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. 

You can read about charter options at the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.

Pennsylvania Magnet Schools

You can also choose magnet schools! These free public schools allow kids to zoom in on a specific learning track. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. If there is a magnet school near you with a theme that interests your child, this could be an exciting option to consider. 

In Pennsylvania, 1.5% of all K-12 students attend a public magnet school. Pennsylvania has several magnet schools throughout the state. For example, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Erie Public Schools, and the School District of Philadelphia have magnet choices, among others. Pennsylvania’s magnet choices range from Mandarin and Spanish programs to pre-engineering and performing arts. You can contact your school district to see if there are any options near you.

Philadelphia families, keep in mind that the district has implemented a new lottery admissions process for the 2023-2024 school year and beyond!

Pennsylvania Private Schools

Private schools are nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools offer a unique learning environment that may be smaller in size, pass on a religious tradition, or provide a curriculum not available in your district school. 

There are more than 2,000 private schools across the state of Pennsylvania. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $10,477 for elementary schools and $16,145 for high schools.

Some Pennsylvania families are eligible for state-run scholarship programs. Children from low or middle income families may be eligible for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit. These programs received a boost in Pennsylvania’s fiscal budget for 2022-2023, allowing an estimated additional 31,000 students to receive school choice scholarships. In Pennsylvania, 4% of all K-12 students are participating in a private school choice program.

Learn more about private schools and scholarship opportunities at Children’s Scholarship Fund-Philadelphia, CEO-America, Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS), the Extra Mile Education Foundation, the Pennsylvania Affiliate of the Council on American Private Education and Private School Review: Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Online Learning

Don’t overlook online learning, which offers a uniquely flexible learning environment that meets a variety of family needs. Whether your child wants to accelerate learning or needs a quieter environment, you may be interested in considering virtual school. If you choose online learning in Pennsylvania, you’re in good company. More than 60,000 Pennsylvania students attended a cyber charter school in 2020-2021.

Pennsylvania offers several free, full-time online learning options for students, such as PA Virtual Charter SchoolReach Cyber Charter SchoolAgora Cyber Charter SchoolCommonwealth Charter Academy, PA Leadership Charter SchoolPA Cyber Charter SchoolCentral PA Digital Learning FoundationPA Distance Learning Charter School, and Insight PA Cyber Charter SchoolEsperanza Cyber Charter School and ASPIRA Bilingual Cyber Charter School also serve grades K-12 statewide; these two schools offer special programming for bilingual students.

Students in grades 6-12 can also consider 21st Century Cyber Charter School, and students in grades 7-12 can consider Achievement House Cyber Charter School. Finally, students between the ages of 17 and 20 who are seeking to finish their high school diploma can choose Passport Academy Charter School. You can find contact information for these cyber charter options at the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

After a student has been accepted into a cyber charter school, his or her family must complete withdrawal paperwork as their assigned school to ensure that there are no gaps in enrollment and that funding follows the child.

In Pennsylvania, most statewide online school options are charter schools. But, there are also some districts that have developed online options, like the School District of Philadelphia’s Virtual AcademyPittsburgh Public Schools’ Online AcademyAllentown School District’s Virtual Campus, and Reading Virtual Academy. Contact your district to learn about any online options they may offer.

To read more about online learning in Pennsylvania, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

Pennsylvania Homeschooling

Homeschooling is another school option for Pennsylvania families. All 50 states permit homeschooling, which is the process of parents educating students at home.

In Pennsylvania, 2.1% of all K-12 students are homeschooled. If you’re using the homeschooling statute in Pennsylvania, it is required that you provide notice of your intent to homeschool by submitting a notarized affidavit at the time of choosing homeschool and annually by August 1. It is recommended that you formally withdraw from your current school so your student is not marked truant.

The state requires homeschooling parents to teach specific subjects (like English, science, and health) and also requires standardized testing in specific grades if you are using the homeschooling statute. Note that your homeschooled student in Pennsylvania may still be eligible to participate in sports or activities at your local public school; if you are interested, ask your district about their policies. Also, homeschoolers with special learning needs are eligible to receive special education support and resources from local public school districts.

Read more about Pennsylvania homeschooling at the Home School Legal Defense Association, or check out the LCC Homeschool Association of PA or the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning

Today, many Pennsylvania families are mixing and matching school options to come up with new ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a distinct commitment to small-group learning, close-knit relationships, and an emphasis on children as individual learners.

Here are real examples of microschools and innovative learning resources in your state:  

  • KaiPod Learning partners with local groups in Harrisburg, Manheim, and Downingtown, Pennsylvania to make learning centers available to students.

 

  • Thrive Space is a microschool offering supplemental and creative education options, from mixed media sculpting classes to cooking classes. 

 

 

Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school. 

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Choosing the Right School

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

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Search for Schools Near Me

School Type
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.
Grade Levels

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Oregon State Guide

Choosing a school? You’ve got options.

Deciding where to send your child to school is a big decision (no pressure)! Fortunately, you’re not alone. Thousands of Oregon parents are making K-12 school choice decisions each year. 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.

In Oregon, you have access to more K-12 education options than you might realize. Navigating these options can help you find a great school for your child. In short, you can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.

Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Oregon at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

Oregon Traditional Public Schools

In Oregon, 81.6% of all K-12 students attend traditional public schools. Traditional public schools are free, open to all students, operated by districts, and funded by taxpayers like you. On average, Oregon spends $13,875 per public school student each year. 

Most states have some form of open enrollment, which refers to whether parents can send their child to a public school other than their assigned school. This is an important choice, widening parents’ options and ensuring that their zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education.

Unfortunately, Oregon currently has very limited open enrollment policies for public schools. The state of Oregon did establish temporary open enrollment between school districts in 2012 to support school choice, but the policy ended in 2019.

While open enrollment is not widely available to Oregon families, they may still request an interdistrict transfer (which requires the consent of both the sending and receiving district). Some districts, such as Reynolds School District, also allow families to request an “area exception” for which school they attend within their district.

Find out more about public schools in your state at the Oregon Department of Education. You can also learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools Without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”

Oregon Charter Schools

Oregon families can currently choose from more than 130 public charter schools. In Oregon, 6.7% of all K-12 students attend a public charter school. 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. Charters 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 instance, that might be offering a Spanish immersion program, like Arco Iris Spanish Immersion School in Beaverton, or 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. 

Recently we talked to an Oregon public charter school with a dual enrollment program, Baker Early College. “The whole point of the early college is if a student is ready to go to college while they’re in high school, we want to facilitate and make that happen,” described superintendent Daniel Huld. “Our students complete all of their classes at the local community colleges. In the case of eastern Oregon, we actually have students going to Eastern Oregon University.”

Oregon originally passed charter school legislation in 1999. You can learn more at the League of Oregon Charter Schools.

Oregon Magnet Schools

You can also choose magnet schools! 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. There are several magnet schools in Oregon. For example, you can read about Bend La Pine School District’s magnet choices, Portland Public Schools’ choices, and Beaverton Schools’ magnet choices. Oregon’s magnet programs range from community-building to performing arts and more. If there is one near you with a theme that interests your child, this could be an exciting choice to consider. 

Oregon Private Schools

Families in Oregon 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. Oregon’s more than 460 private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs.

The average tuition for private schools in the state is $9,485 for elementary schools and $12,011 for high schools. Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Oregon at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, parents can save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.

Learn more at Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon, the Archdiocese of Portland Catholic School Directory, and Private School Review: Oregon.

Oregon Online Learning

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. 

Oregon has about a dozen online public charter schools serving families across districts in all grades K-12.  These include Clackamas Web AcademyMetro East Web AcademyOregon Charter AcademyOregon Family School, Sheridan AllPrep AcademySilvies River Charter SchoolTEACH-NWWillamette Connections AcademyOregon Connections Academy, Cascade Virtual Academy, Frontier Charter Academy, and Baker Web Academy.  A full list, including virtual charters only serving specific grades or districts, is available at the Oregon Department of Education website.

In order for funding to follow a student to an online charter school, the student’s family may be required to submit a letter of intent, stating that they will be enrolling in a virtual school. You can learn more about the online school community at the Oregon Virtual Public School Alliance.

Another option for some Oregon families is to attend a district-run online school. Districts such as the Beaverton School District, the Hillsboro School DistrictBend-La-Pine Schools, the Eugene School District, and Salem-Keizer Public Schools have developed their own online programs. 

For part-time courses, students can ask their district if they can enroll in courses through Oregon Virtual Education, a statewide network that supports online learning and offers a catalog of approved courses.

To read more about online learning in Oregon, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.

Oregon Homeschooling

Oregon 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 is permitted in all 50 states. In Oregon, about 4 to 5% of K-12 students are homeschooled.

In Oregon, notice of your intent to homeschool is required within 10 days of starting. It is recommended that you formally withdraw from your public school so your student is not marked truant. 

While the state doesn’t lay out specific subjects that homeschooling families must teach, it does require that homeschooling students take tests approved by the State Board of Education in certain grades. Keep in mind that homeschooled students in Oregon may still be eligible to participate in sports or activities at local public schools.

Oregon offers limited funding assistance for home education if you are enrolled via a charter, like Oregon Family School.

You may also want to check out the Oregon Department of Education’s Homeschooling page, the Oregon Home Education NetworkHome School Legal Defense Association – Oregon, and the Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network.

Oregon Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning

Today, many Oregon families are mixing and matching school options to come up with new ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a commitment to small-group learning and close-knit relationships, along with an emphasis on children as individual learners. 

Here are real examples of microschools and related resources in your state:  

  • Activate is a full-time microschool in Portland specializing in serving students with dyslexia.

 

  • Anchored Hope is an independent microschool in Sherwood that partners with and provides enrichment for families who homeschool, unschool, attend charters, or make other choices. 

 

  • Madrona Folk School is a microschool in Grants Pass offering classes for homeschoolers in inspired academics, arts, and land-based living skills.

 

 

Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school. 

Download the School Choice Snapshot for Oregon

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What is School Choice

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

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Choosing the Right School

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

Get Tip

Search for Schools Near Me

School Type
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.
Grade Levels

Microschooling and Mix-and-Match Learning

How can it empower parents and help kids achieve their dreams?

Read More

7 Step Guide

Tips to help you find a school where your daughter or son will learn, succeed, and be happy.

View Guide

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Oklahoma State Guide

Choosing a school? You’ve got options.

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 main learning environments in Oklahoma. In short, you can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.

Interested in learning more about Oklahoma’s Parental Choice Tax Credit? Check out our deep dive blog on the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act!

Oklahoma Traditional Public Schools

First off, most Oklahoma families (84.9% of all K-12 students) 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 $10,498 per public school student each year? You can search your school’s spending and that of nearby schools at Project Nickel.

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. What’s more, public school districts cannot charge students tuition. The state does allow districts to set capacity limits for transfer students, and sometimes spots are only available in certain grades. For an example of what the open enrollment process may look like, check out Norman Public Schools’ transfer guidelines. 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 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. For parents in Oklahoma who want to know more about open enrollment in their local district, Every Kid Counts Oklahoma offers a comprehensive list of guidelines and key information that may be helpful in your search.

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 the Oklahoma State Department of Education. You can also learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools Without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”

Oklahoma Charter Schools

Secondly, Oklahoma families can currently choose from about 60 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. In Oklahoma, 6.8% of all K-12 students attend a public charter school.

In the late 1990s, Oklahoma passed a bill allowing charter schools to be authorized by school districts in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties. Today, charters can be authorized by any school district and are available in many parts of Oklahoma.

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. One of the state’s newest charters is Tulsa Classical Academy, which offers an American classical education and character formation for Tulsa students in grades K-8. 

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. 

You can learn more at the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association.

Oklahoma Magnet Schools

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. You can contact your school district to see if there are any options near you.

Oklahoma Private Schools

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 200 private schools across the state of Oklahoma.

Private schools do charge tuition. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $6,766 for elementary schools and $8,052 for high schools.

However, Oklahoma students in certain underperforming schools or who meet certain income guidelines (income at or less than $154,014 for a family of four in 2022-2023) can qualify for state-run scholarship programs. And, 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 always ask if other funding is available through private sources. 

Plus, in 2023, lawmakers passed the Oklahoma Parental Tax Credit Act. Starting December 6, 2023, all students enrolling in an accredited private school can apply for a refundable income tax credit. The credit will cover $5,000-$7,500 of private school tuition costs, with families earning less than $150,000 receiving first priority. In Oklahoma, 0.4% of all K-12 students are participating in a private school choice program. You can find all the details in our full explainer

Learn more at Private School Review: Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Online Learning

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 online learning.

Oklahoma currently offers seven fully online public charter schools for students: Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy, Oklahoma Connections AcademyEpic Charter SchoolInsight School of Oklahoma (grades 6-12), E-School Virtual Charter Academy, Dove Virtual Academy (grades 6-10), and Virtual Prep Academy (grades K-8). These schools are authorized by the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board and served nearly 40,000 students in 2020-2021. Additionally, a free, Catholic online school may be opening in 2024: St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School.

Certain districts offer their own online choices for local families, such as Tulsa Virtual Academy, Oklahoma City Public Schools’ Online LearningVirtual Edmond, Broken Arrow Public Schools’ Virtual Academy, Newcastle Public