Tag: public magnet schools

Guide to School Options for Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Families

Created in cooperation with the National Indian Education Association

There are nearly one million Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students enrolled in K-12 U.S. educational programs.  It is estimated that up to 90% of these students are enrolled in some part of the public school system.  Many Native American and Alaska Native students are citizens of one of the 574 federally recognized tribes, villages, and pueblos and 64 state recognized tribes. Each of these Nations has their own unique culture, language, and value system, which are predicated on beliefs, history, and a unique knowledge-base. For the purposes of this guide, we will refer to this group as Natives. Native families face outsized barriers and impositions in education. The challenges, decisions, and opportunities in education for Native people are often complex. 

As parents and caretakers of Native students, choosing the education that best fits the needs of your student and family is important. There are many things to consider, and the purpose of this guide is to provide information that will help with important decisions you face when trying to provide your child a connected, enriching, and meaningful education. 

Together with the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), we’ve put together a state-specific look at how Native students and families can find the educational opportunities available to them. If you are a parent or student choosing a school and your Native heritage is top-of-mind in making your choice, this guide is for you.

A Unique Educational Context:

About 56 million acres in the United States are preserved as tribal lands. Today, a little less than half of Native families live on these reservations, the largest of which is the 16 million-acre Navajo Nation Reservation that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. While all Native students are full citizens of the United States with the same rights as other citizens, they may also have special rights, such as hunting and fishing rights, access to sacred sites, or other unique dispensations reflecting the relationship between Native people and land.

The history of U.S. education policy toward Native students is fraught with broken promises, forced assimilation, and mistreatment. These wrongs were particularly severe in the Indian boarding schools, which the National Indian Education Association describes as:

“…Often overcrowded, hostile, and propagat[ing] the emotional, physical, sexual, and mental abuse of Native children. The forcible removal of children from families into these schools was a deliberate process. By keeping children from their parents and their traditional culture, a division was created between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ worlds. Many times, when children returned to their families, they were no longer able to communicate in their Native languages, but families that refused to send their children to these schools were often penalized with jail time or the withholding of government rations.”

These past wrongs are the root cause of disassociation from and disconnection to education in Native American communities, families, and tribes. It has been widely documented that Native youth today face unique challenges both at home and at school. These include a higher youth suicide rate, a higher likelihood to experience violent crimes, a higher likelihood to be designated with a disability, and a lower likelihood of access to Advanced Placement and college prep courses in high school. While these challenges to educational opportunity for Native students were strikingly documented in the 1969 Senate report, “Indian Education: A National Tragedy–A National Challenge,” many persist even today, more than 50 years after the report. 

Over the last few decades, both state governments and the federal government have passed laws to improve learning opportunities for Native families. In 2006, for example, the Native American Languages Preservation Act became the first federal act to recognize Native communities’ right to speak their native language. This law provided grants for immersion schools and language restoration efforts. In 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act passed, which authorized funding for Native language immersion programs, and required state education agencies to consult with tribes. 

“Tribes were not waiting on the shores of the Atlantic for Columbus to bring us education. We have always had our own means to provide instruction and education to our tribes.”

Quinton Roman Nose

More from Quinton Roman Nose 

More progress remains to be made. In 2019, the National Indian Education Study was conducted in partnership with the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The results point to the ongoing need for educational opportunities that better meet the unique needs of each Native family and child.

Unique Considerations for Native Parents and Guardians

Whether a Native family lives on a rural reservation or in a busy city, their indigeneity places them in a unique context in American society. A student’s identity and educational experience will always be shaped in some way by this. So, what are some things Native parents or guardians should consider in selecting a learning environment?

  1. Identity: will this school advocate and support the individual learning needs for your student?
  2. Culture and language: does the school have and support the connection and integration of culture and language into your child’s learning?
  3. Community-based: does the school provide opportunities for students to learn through community-based connections and opportunities?
  4. Academics: does the school offer learning and teaching opportunities that honor student equality and equity? 

Native American Students and School Choices:

So, what ARE your school options as a Native family? Across America, these are the main types of schools: traditional public-schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, federally funded Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools, tribally controlled schools, private schools, online schools, homeschooling, and microschooling. Choosing any of these options is considered exercising school choice.

For many Native families, another important form of choice in education is tribal choice. Tribal choice is the ability of a particular tribe to self-determine and create a learning opportunity that is derived from and reflects the tribal community. The tribal choice is collectively determined by tribes, tribal leadership, and tribal stakeholders. Although tribal choice is creating a learning environment that best fits “their” particular community, parents and guardians must decide what works best for their student. 

Even if there is not a tribal choice school near you, keep in mind that some tribes have education departments that support tribal members with language immersion programs, career training, and other learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom format. There is a legacy of educational sovereignty being used to form survival schools that place Indigenous culture at the center of learning. 

Traditional public schools, including public schools on reservations: 

Just as the vast majority of students in America attend public schools, the vast majority of Native students attend traditional public schools. Many Native students live in rural areas, with fewer private and charter school options located nearby. A 2019 study found that about 60% of Native students surveyed attended public schools where less than 25% of all students in the school were Native.

Bureau of Indian Education Funded and Operated Schools:

While most public schools are run by school districts, about 8 to 9% of Native students attend schools run by the government’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE),  an agency, within the Department of Interior, that was established to provide educational services per the federal government’s trust responsibilities for Native students. It currently funds and operates 55 elementary and secondary schools, which can be searched on the Bureau’s website

BIE funded, tribally-controlled schools

While some BIE schools are directly operated by the BIE – these are referred to as Bureau Operated Schools – the majority of BIE-funded schools today are controlled by tribes. These schools are divided into two types: “638 schools” in reference to Public Law 93-638 where school services such as transportation, operations, and administration are contracted and schools under Public Law 100-297 which are fully tribally controlled schools. Many of these schools offer curriculum and instruction specially designed to pass on Native culture and values. One parent at a tribally-run public school described that her sons, “get to go outside and practice archery. They get to tan the hides that they make, make drums, work directly in the garden and be present.” 

A few of these BIE schools are boarding schools, which offer a unique opportunity to learn. While most Indian boarding schools closed by the early 1990s, a few remain, such as Santa Fe Indian School, run by the 19 pueblos in New Mexico, which provides an option for students to engage with Native students from other communities to learn and share with one another. 

You can read about transfer options for public schools near you in the Guide to Open Enrollment. 

Public charter schools:

Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and usually have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is that they have extra freedom to innovate with learning methods. Many have a specific curricular focus, which may include Native American culture and language. Charters are accountable to authorizing entities for results. 

As of 2017, there are 64 charter schools that either operate on tribal lands or, even if they are not on tribal lands, serve a significant proportion of Native students. In total, these charter schools serve nearly 10,000 students.

Most of these charter schools are independent, not part of a large charter network. These stand-alone charter schools may be authorized by independent charter boards, local education agencies, state education agencies, or even a college or university. These policies vary state-to-state, and details can be found in the Ultimate Guide to Public Charter Schools

Some of these charter schools have specific missions to preserve Native American culture and language. For instance, the Native American Community Academy in New Mexico, which is a charter school authorized by Albuquerque Public Schools, teaches students Lakota, Navajo, Tiwa, Keres, and Zuni languages, Indigenous art, Native literature, and Indigenous history.  It also provides a community-based education model that connects students to their tribal communities and identities.

Charter schools are a valuable free option for Native students in some regions, and more charter schools may be on the horizon for families. 

“For decades, tribes and Native communities have been striving to create school systems that are reflective of the tribal community’s needs, enable tribes to own responsibility for the development of their students, and empower communities to educate their students consistent with their values. As a result, we welcome the renewed discussion of choice in education and look forward to engaging to make sure that tribes and Native communities and leaders have full authority to lead choice as it plays out for Native students.”

National Indian Education Association

For a more in-depth framework about the expansion of Native charter schools in the United States, see the National Indian Education Association’sSovereignty in Education: Creating Culturally-Based Charter Schools in Native Communities” handbook and Capacity-Building Guide for Founding Native American Charter Schools, a publication by the National Indian Education Association and the National Charter School Resource Center.

Public magnet schools:

Magnet schools are public schools operated by school districts (or groups of school districts) that allow kids to focus on a specific learning track, such as STEM, medical science, or performing arts. 

There are a few magnet schools dispersed throughout America specifically geared toward providing an American Indian perspective and immersing students in Indigenous culture. These include the American Indian Magnet School in Minnesota and PS 19 Native American Magnet School in New York.

Though both magnet schools, charter schools, and district schools are all public schools, parents should note that magnet schools are directly run and controlled by the school district whereas and charter schools have their own oversight structures and varying degrees of autonomy from district control.

Online schools:

Online schools hold the potential to open doors wide for students living on rural reservations, or just in remote areas off reservations. Full-time online schools are available in 35 states. You can read more about online schools near you in the Ultimate Guide to Online School.

Unfortunately, statistics are not readily available for the number of Native American students who currently use online schools, but the number of students overall using online school has surged since pre-COVID. 

Private schools:

Private schools are nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer families a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition.

As of 2018, just .03% of students at private schools of the National Association of Independent Schools were Native American. While only a small number of Native students currently attend private schools, more opportunities are developing. For example, Santa Fe, New Mexico has opened the first independent school for Native American girls, the Pine Ridge Girls’ School, grounded in Lakota philosophy and practice. 

“Today, some Native American tribes manage private schools that teach their children their tribal culture and language. Some proficiently own and operate large and small businesses that benefit the tribe. Many manage natural resources in a way that protects the environment and economically supports the tribe. Several states have passed laws that require or encourage public schools to teach Native American content in all subject areas. Montana specifically has “Indian Education for All” in the state constitution as a result of young Native American high school students who stood up to the state legislature. Native American music, dance, art, ceremonies, and stories continue to grace the lives of the people who originated on this land. Yes, we face challenges, but we also persevere.” 

Jennifer Jilot, Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana

Many private schools that are not necessarily Native-run and focused but have opened up increased opportunities for Native students to attend. Schools such as the Indian Community School in Wisconsin are accessible and inclusive.

Homeschooling:

As with online learning, there has been a rise in homeschooling across all demographics since the COVID-19 pandemic. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating children in the home, and many families choose to collaborate via tutorials, co-operatives, and extracurricular leagues to enhance the home education experience.

For Native families, there is also a level of exercising sovereignty at play in making the decision to center Indigenous teaching and learning in the home. Native American knowledge, pre- and post-European contact, was held, engaged, and passed in the community and tribally-based ways that may not be included in traditional schools. Homeschooling may be the choice for parents who want to ensure their kids are immersed in culture and, recognizing that they are the best teachers for their children, will opt to practice that sovereign right. 

There is not currently a national Native homeschool group, but there are Facebook groups that share information and tips, such as Indigenous Homeschoolers. Some members of this group express that they homeschool to be able to share Native American history and culture more completely with their child than is possible through traditional schooling. 

Microschools:

Some Native families have found a home in microschooling. Microschools or learning pods refer 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.

In San Carlos, Arizona, a private, Prenda-style microschool became the first microschool on tribal land. “Microschools are so small and mobile they are easy to bring to children in rural areas and communities like ours,” described Dassa John, a parent and member of the San Carlos Apache Tribal community.

At the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation in Washington during the pandemic, a learning pod developed to provide support for students using online learning. Besides working on traditional schooling, students participating in the pod had the chance to practice the Klallam language each day with one of the tribe’s language instructors. 

If you are interested in starting a microschool or learning more, head over to the 50-State Guide to Microschooling and Mix-and-Match Learning.

Native American Education Laws and Resources Near You:

Currently, there are 35 states with federally recognized tribal nations, plus an additional 11 states with state-recognized tribes. The states with the highest populations of Native American students include Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana, though Native people once inhabited all 50 states in the U.S. Through forced removal and genocidal practices, Native Nations and tribes no longer exist in many states, and have been relocated to states in which they did not originally reside. 

Some states, especially those serving the largest populations of Native students, have developed unique curricula, laws, or programs to respond to the needs of Native students. Keep in mind that statistical information may not fully reflect students that identify as Native American because of blood quantum and membership policies, as well as data collection/census means. 

Find a sampling of laws and resources in your state below: 

Click on your state:

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC

Alabama:

Alabama’s Calcedeaver Elementary School in Mobile County is one of the only schools in the state serving a majority of Native students. There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

Starting in 2024, eligible Native students may be eligible for the state’s new Alabama’s Tax-Credit Education Savings Account (ESA) program, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private or online school expenses, tutoring, or educational therapy.

As of 2022, there are more than 6,000 Native students in Alabama making up just under 1% of the public school population, with a heavy concentration in Madison County. The 1838 Forced Removal Act drove many Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw people out of the state. 

Alaska:

Alaska has a Native American Education Program that supports supplemental education programs to benefit Alaska Natives. 

Alaska also has a number of programs and even a few immersion schools allowing students to learn native Alaskan languages. For example, College Gate Elementary in the Anchorage school district offers a Yupik Immersion Program. Meanwhile, Qarġi Academy is the only tribal school on Alaska’s North Slope. And, the Knik Cultural Charter School opened in Wasilla last school year to provide flexible, indigenous education for all grades K-12. There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

In 1994, the state passed the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support, and Assistance Act, recognizing the unique educational needs of Native families and providing for new programs and enrichment. A bill signed into law in 2022 established a pilot program for five tribes to open new independent schools, with their own curriculum and schedule, over the next few years. According to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, “These State Tribal Education Compact Schools (STECs) would be public schools open to all students and would offer a unique, culturally rich combination of Western and millennia-old tribal educational models.”

As of 2022, there are more than 28,000 Native students enrolled in public schools in Alaska, making up about 22% of the public school population.

Arizona:

Arizona has an Indian Education Association that researches and provides resources for Native students, as well as an Office of Indian Education at the Arizona Department of Education. Arizona schools are required to teach about the history of Native communities in the state. 

The Grand Canyon State has a robust array of options for Native students. There are more than 50 Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools and tribally-controlled schools. For example, one of the Bureau of Indian Education schools is Salt River Elementary, which blends learning and the O’Odham and Piipaash cultures. Meanwhile, Akimel O’Otham Pee Posh Charter School on the Gila River Indian Community was recently awarded more than $500,000 to support reading and mitigate the impact of the pandemics for students and their families. 

Arizona also has magnet schools, including Puente de Hózhó (PdH) Public Magnet School, a magnet school in Flagstaff with a Navajo Immersion Language Program. And, the state even has a private Catholic school aimed at preserving Native American culture, St. Charles Apache Mission School in San Carlos.

In Arizona, students who live on a Native reservation are eligible for the state’s Empowerment Scholarships Account (ESA) program, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private or online school expenses, tutoring, or educational therapy. Currently, more than 100 families on the San Carlos reservation lands use ESAs each year.

As of 2022, there are more than 47,000 Native students enrolled in public schools in Arizona, making up about 4% of the public school population.

Arkansas:

Arkansas’ American Indian Center is a non-profit that works on improving the quality of life for Native Americans in Arkansas, including Native students.

Some Native students are eligible for the state’s new Educational Freedom Account (EFA) program, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private school tuition.

As of 2022, there are more than 2,900 Native students enrolled in public schools in Arkansas, making up close to 1% of the public school population. There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

California:

California’s initiatives to promote Native education include California Indian Education for All, a nonprofit that aims to help schools improve their teaching and resources surrounding Native history and culture. Additionally, the California Indian Education Act, signed in 2022, encourages school districts to increase collaboration with local Native tribes.

California has a few schools that predominantly serve Native American students. These include Sherman Indian High School, an off-reservation boarding high school in Riverside, All Tribes American Indian Charter School in Valley Center, Barona Indian Charter School in Lakeside, and Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory in Los Angeles.

As of 2022, there are more than 23,000 Native students enrolled in public schools in California, making up close to 1% of the public school population. For more information, families can also explore the –California Department of Education’s list of American Indian Education Centers.

Colorado:

You can read about Colorado’s resources for Native education at the Colorado Department of Education page. 

Unfortunately, one of Colorado’s schools with a unique focus on teaching Indigenous culture and values, the American Indian Academy of Denver, recently closed. However, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe offers education options for their students, as does the South Ute Indian Montessori Academy

Additionally, Native American Culture and Education (NACE), a program of the Denver Public Schools District, connects and supports about 1,000 Native students in the Denver area. Similarly, Jefferson County School District has an Indian Education program offering mentoring, after-school programming, and cultural support.

Families should also know that, as of 2023, Native students are guaranteed the right to wear their traditional regalia at school graduation ceremonies.

As of 2022, there are more than 5,200 Native students enrolled in public schools in Colorado, making up close to 1% of the public school population. There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

Connecticut:

Connecticut‘s tribal nations and education officials are currently partnering to develop a Native American studies curriculum, which will be offered in public schools starting in the 2023-2024 school year.

The Mohegan Tribe also offers free Native American study resources and tools (printable study guides, worksheets and video assets available) for educators and homeschoolers.

As of 2022, there are more than 1,500 Native students in Connecticut making up close to 1% of the public-school population. There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

Delaware:

The Nanticoke Indian Center in Delaware is the historic site of a former tribal school. Today, there are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

As of 2022, there are more than 560 Native students enrolled in public schools in Delaware, making up just under 1% of the public school population.

Florida:

Florida requires that Native education be taught in schools. The state has at least a few tribally-run schools, such as Ahfachkee School in Clewiston and Miccosukee Indian School in Miami.

The Florida Governor’s Council on Indian Affairs, Inc. provides two-week educational programs for Native youth. Also, the Florida Department of Education has launched student contests for Native American Heritage Month.

As of 2022, there are more than 5,700 Native students enrolled in public schools in Florida, making up just under 1% of the public school population.

All Native students are eligible to apply for Florida’s expanded Education Savings Account (ESA) program, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private school tuition or homeschooling.

Georgia:

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

Some Native students may be eligible for the state’s new Promise Scholarship program, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private school tuition.

As of 2022, there are more than 3,500 Native students enrolled in public schools in Georgia, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Hawaii:

Hawaii has a Native Hawaiian Education program to develop and support educational options for Native Hawaiian students. The state has several Hawaiian language immersion schools, including Ānuenue in Honolulu, King Kekaulike High in Pukalani, and Molokai Middle School. Some of the state’s immersion schools are charter schools. A complete list can be found at Hawaii’s Department of Education.

Kamehameha schools have a unique history as a privately-funded school system for furthering culture and academics for Native Hawaiian students.  

You can also read about the Native Hawaiian Education Act at the Native Hawaiian Education Council. This bill officially authorized increased support for the needs of Native Hawaiian students and increased participation from Native communities in planning educational programming.

You may also wish to check out the Native Hawaiian Education Association, a nonprofit that works to support Native Hawaiian educators and learning.

As of 2022, there are more than 43,000 Native students enrolled in public schools in Hawaii, making up well over 25% of the public school population.

Idaho:

Idaho has a couple of tribally-run schools, such as Coeur d’Alene Tribal School in DeSmet. In 2022, this school was the spot of an official announcement by federal education representatives of a $1 million federal grant to promote Native American languages across the country. Another tribally-run school in Idaho is Shoshone Bannock School District #537 in Pocatello. Additionally, the state’s first Native language immersion school is a charter school, Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy on the Fort Hall reservation.

The state’s Indian Education Department works with local tribes to support the learning of Native students. 

In some Idaho districts, such as the Blackfoot School District, Native students have been particularly impacted by learning loss and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The school district is working on a recovery program, which has involved tutoring programs for tribal students and credit recovery programs. 

As of 2023, there are more than 3,100 Native students enrolled in public schools in Idaho, making up more than 1% of the public school population. There are currently 56 Native teachers, making up just 0.3% of all teachers, in Idaho public schools.

Illinois

Illinois does not have any Bureau of Indian Education schools. But, in the Chicago Public Schools District, Native families can receive support through the American Indian Education Program and the American Indian Family Resource Center. Services include after-school tutoring and cultural programs for students, as well as workshops for parents.

A recent bill passed by state legislators and expected to be signed into law requires Illinois public schools to teach Midwestern Native American history beginning in 2024. The new curriculum would be developed in partnership with the Chicago American Indian Community Collaborative.

As of 2022, there are more than 3,700 Native students enrolled in public schools in Illinois, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Indiana:

In Indiana, the Native American Indian Affairs Commission makes recommendations to government agencies about issues impacting Native families, including education. You may also wish to check out the American Indian Center of Indiana.

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

As of 2022, there are more than 2,000 Native students enrolled in public schools in Indiana, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Native families interested in choosing private school may wish to learn about Indiana’s recently expanded private school scholarship programs.

Iowa:

Iowa has at least one tribally-run school, Meskwaki Settlement School. It is run by the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, the only federally recognized Indian tribe in the state. 

As of 2022, there are more than 1,500 Native students enrolled in public schools in Iowa, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Some Native students are eligible for the state’s new Educational Scholarship Account (ESA) program, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private school tuition.

Kansas:

Kansas has at least one tribally-controlled school serving Native students: the Kickapoo Nation School in Powhattan.

Kansas also has a statewide organization, the Kansas Association for Native American Education, that advocates for Native students. 

As of 2022, there are more than 3,400 Native students enrolled in public schools in Kansas, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Kentucky:

Kentucky’s Heritage Council offers educational resources for teachers and families about Native history and culture.

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

As of 2022, there are more than 660 Native students enrolled in public schools in Kentucky, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Louisiana:

Louisiana has at least one tribally-run school, Chitimacha Tribal School in Jeanerette.

The state has an Office of Indian Affairs that serves as a resource for Louisiana Native communities navigating local or state policies. Additionally, the Tunica-Biloxi tribe offers tribal student support programs for tutoring and school success.  

As of 2022, there are more than 4,300 Native students enrolled in public schools in Louisiana, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Maine:

Maine has a few schools specifically serving Native students. These include Indian Island School in Indian Island, Indian Township School in Princeton, and Sipayik Elementary School in Calais. You can read about all three at Maine Indian Education.

In 2001, Maine passed a law requiring Native history and culture be taught in schools across the state. A 2022 report by Wabanaki leaders highlights successes and failures of how the curriculum is currently being implemented in schools.

Maine’s Department of Education provides a list of educational Native Studies resources. You may also wish to check out the Maine Indian Tribal Commission

As of 2022, there are more than 1,300 Native students enrolled in public schools in Maine, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Maryland:

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state. Some districts offer special support and programming for Native students, like the Montgomery School Public Schools District, which has an American Indian Education Program

You may also wish to check out the Baltimore American Indian Center (BAIC), which provides skills training, afterschool programs, and other opportunities for Native families. 

As of 2022, there are more than 2,600 Native students enrolled in public schools in Maryland, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Massachusetts:

Massachusetts has no Bureau of Indian Education schools, but other educational opportunities exist. For example, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has an education department offering cultural presentations, after school support, Native films, performances, and even traditional gardens in collaboration with nearby schools. The programming is funded by the Department of Education.

You may also wish to check out the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, which provides cultural enrichment for youth and other educational opportunities.

As of 2022, there are more than 1,800 Native students enrolled in public school in Massachusetts, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Michigan:

Michigan has a few schools specifically serving Native students. These include Hannahville Indian School in Wilson and Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe PSA in Marie. About a dozen public school districts in Michigan are close to tribal territories and have significant Native enrollment; at Watersmeet Township School, for example, three out of four students are Native.

Legislation to add more Native history into the state’s recommended curriculum standards for grades 8-12 passed in 2022 and is currently being implemented. The Michigan Department of Education has also launched an Indigenous Education Initiative to work on areas impacting Native learners. Beginning in 2024, all Michigan district and charter schools must collect tribal affiliation data for students, with the goal of gaining more information about Native student achievement rates and making more schools eligible for federal funds for Native American education.

As of 2022, there are more than 8,600 Native students enrolled in public school in Michigan, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Minnesota:

Minnesota’s TrekNorth Junior & Senior High School is a charter school serving a high percentage of Native students and offering classes in American Indian language and culture. Minnesota also has a few tribally-run schools through the Bureau of Indian Education, including Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School in Bena, Circle of Life Academy in White Earth, Fond du Lac Ojibwe School in Cloquet, and Nay Ah Shing / Pine Grove Schools in Onamia.

Some traditional public-school districts, like Minneapolis Public Schools, have an Indian Education Department. Minnesota even has a magnet school, American Indian Magnet School, with teachers specializing in the Lakota and Ojibwe languages, and a Catholic private school aimed at preserving Native culture, St. Mary’s Mission School. 

The American Indian OIC in Minneapolis provides community-based support for Native families. One of its initiatives is an alternative high school, Takoda Prep, affiliated with Minneapolis Public Schools. Takoda Prep focuses on individualized instruction, skills training, and supporting students in maintaining a strong connection to their culture.

As of 2022, there are more than 14,000 Native students enrolled in public school in Minnesota, making up more than 1% of the public school population. You can read a report on the state of American Indian Education at the Minnesota Department of Education.

Mississippi:

Mississippi has several tribally-run schools through the Bureau of Indian Education. These schools make up the Choctaw Tribal School System, which serves more than 2,000 students across eight schools. Operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, this is the largest unified and locally-controlled Indian school system in the U.S.

As of 2022, there are also more than 880 Native students enrolled in public school in Mississippi, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Native students with special needs may be eligible for the state’s Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program, which provides funding that families can use for private school tuition.

Missouri:

There are no federally recognized tribes in the state of Missouri and there are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

Missouri does have an American Indian Cultural Center. Also, MO Humanities has a Native American Program with educational programming to raise awareness about the American Indian experience in Missouri.

As of 2022, there are more than 3,500 Native students enrolled in public school in Missouri, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Native families who meet certain eligibility requirements may be eligible for the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private school tuition.

Montana:

Montana became the first state, in 1999, to require Native studies. The state’s constitution says that Montana “recognizes the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians and is committed in its educational goals to the preservation of their cultural integrity.” Currently, however, some Native tribes, parents, and students in Montana are bringing a lawsuit forward, arguing that this constitutional requirement is not being upheld. A bill passed in 2023 establishes a partnership between state education officials and Montana tribes with the goal of better reporting on Indian Education for All curriculum.

Montana also has a few schools specifically serving Native students. These include the tribally-run Northern Cheyenne Tribal School in Busby, and Two Eagle River School in Pablo.

Montana also has a few private Catholic schools with instruction in Native language and culture. These schools, which are largely funded by fundraising and private donations, include St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, St. Charles Mission School in Pryor, Pretty Eagle Catholic Academy in Xavier, and De La Salle Blackfeet School in Browning.

As of 2022, there are more than 15,900 Native students enrolled in public school in Montana, making up more than 10% of the public school population.

Nebraska:

Nebraska has a Commission on Indian Affairs that provides regular updates on Indian education news in the state. Lincoln Public Schools’ Indian Education Team is funded by a federal grant and offers many programs for Native students and their families, including success coaches, summer camps, and a Native advisory committee that parents can participate in.

Nebraska offers several schools that seek to preserve Native culture, including Umoⁿhoⁿ Nation Public Schools St. Augustine Mission School in Winnebago and the iSanti Community School, located on ISanti Sioux tribal lands.

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

As of 2022, there are more than 4,900 Native students enrolled in public school in Nebraska, making up more than 1% of the public school population.

Nevada:

Nevada has a few tribally-run schools, including Pyramid Lake Schools and Duckwater Shoshone Elementary Schools.

The Nevada Indian Commission offers events and news for Native families. Additionally, the Nevada Department of Education offers a list of resources for Native education, including curriculum and lesson plans.

As of 2022, there are more than 3,800 Native students enrolled in public school in Nevada, making up close to 1% of the public school population. More than 900 Native students are served by the Washoe County School District. The district is currently using a federal grant to hire more student graduation advocates to support Native students in becoming college and career ready.

New Hampshire:

There are no federally recognized tribes in New Hampshire today and there are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

The state does have a Commission on Native American Affairs to promote the needs of Native families. You may also wish to check out New Hampshire’s list of Native organizations with geographical or cultural interests in New Hampshire.

As of 2022, there are more than 330 Native students enrolled in public school in New Hampshire, making up less than 1% of the public school population.

Native families who meet certain eligibility requirements may be eligible for New Hampshire’s Education Freedom Account, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private school tuition.

New Jersey:

While there are federally recognized Indian tribes in New Jersey, there are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state. 

New Jersey’s Commission on Indian Affairs seeks to develop “programs and projects to further understanding of New Jersey’s American Indian history and culture.”

As of 2022, there are more than 2,700 Native students enrolled in public school in New Jersey, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

New Mexico:

New Mexico requires Native education be taught in schools. The NM Indian Education Act of 2003 established partnerships between Native tribes and the state’s education department to advance the educational and cultural needs of American Indian students in public schools, and a 2019 amendment to this law added a systemic framework for improving educational outcomes for Indian students.

In New Mexico, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department has worked with local indigenous leaders to create a digital workshop for tribal communities to develop their own instructional content. Additionally, New Mexico’s Indian Affairs Department has an Indigenous Youth Council that Native students from across the state participate in.

There are more than 40 Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools and tribally-controlled schools across the state.

One of the state’s schools that offers an immersion in Indigenous curriculum and culture is the Native American Community Academy, a public charter school in Albuquerque. Another school committed to maintaining Native cultural values is the Santa Fe Indian School, which is currently working to better connect tribes and students through reliable internet access. In Farmington, Navajo Preparatory School (the only Navajo-sanctioned, college-preparatory school for Native Americans) offers an International Baccalaureate curriculum. New Mexico even has a private Catholic school with the mission of serving Native students: St. Joseph Mission School in San Fidel.

As of 2022, there are more than 32,000 Native students enrolled in public school in New Mexico, making up more than 10% of the public school population. In Albuquerque Public Schools, for example, more than 7,000 students report tribal affiliations.

New York:

While there are federally recognized tribes in New York, there are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state. There are, however, several schools that teach Native youth, including Onondaga Elementary in Syracuse and Tuscarora Indian School near Buffalo.

The New York State Education Department has a Native American Education Unit that provides funding to school districts that educate Native children who live on reservations. In 2023, the New York State Education Department created an Indigenous Culture and Language Studies certificate for teachers, with the goal of allowing more children to learn about Native cultures.

As of 2022, there are more than 17,700 Native students enrolled in public school in New York, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

North Carolina:

North Carolina has a few schools specifically serving Native students. These include the tribally-run Cherokee Central Elementary School, Middle School, and High School.

Additionally, Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School is run by the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe and offers students academics integrated with Native culture.

North Carolina’s State Advisory Council on Indian Education aims to provide cultural opportunities for American Indian students. Also, the North Carolina Native American Youth Organization offers cultural and academic support to students.

In light of a bill passed in 2023, Native students are now guaranteed the right to wear their traditional regalia at school graduation ceremonies.

As of 2022, there are more than 16,900 Native students enrolled in public schools in Missouri, making up more than 1% of the public school population.

Native students with special needs may be eligible for the state’s Education Student Accounts program, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private school tuition.

North Dakota:

North Dakota, where about 10% of students are Native American, has passed a law requiring that public schools teach Native history. You can learn more about the North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings curriculum at Teachings of Our Elders.

North Dakota has one of the highest numbers of schools serving Native students. You can find a complete list of public-school options for Native students at the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission. Some of these schools are operated by tribal governments (including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and the Spirit Lake Nation) and some are operated by the Bureau of Indian Education. The list includes schools both on reservation and off reservation.

As of 2022, there are more than 9,700 Native students enrolled in public school in North Dakota, making up more than 8% of the public school population.

Ohio:

There are no federally recognized tribes in Ohio and there are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state. You may wish to search your area for Native educational programming near you. Regional organizations like the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition and Native American Center of Central Ohio work to preserve Native culture and offer learning opportunities.

As of 2022, there are more than 1,600 Native students enrolled in public schools in Ohio, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Oklahoma:

Oklahoma’s Department of Education has an Office of American Indian Education that works to build bridges between Native tribes and the state’s K-12 public school system. 

In Anadarko, Riverside Indian School is a school run by the Bureau of Indian Education that specifically serves Native students. It is the oldest and largest off-reservation boarding school in the U.S. There are also four tribally-run schools: Chickasaw Children’s Village, Eufaula Dormitory, Jones Academy, and Sequoyah High School.

Oklahoma also allows federally recognized Indian tribes to authorize charter schools in the state. In 2010, Tsalagi Tsunadeloquasdi became the first Oklahoma charter school for Cherokee language immersionSovereign Community School was the second Native charter school to open in the state, but permanently closed its doors in 2023.

Additionally, the state has passed legislation establishing Native education advisory councils to ensure that tribal nations have a say in how public education responds to the needs of students. The state has also recently passed legislation protecting the right of Native students to wear tribal regalia during graduation ceremonies.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Education, there are more than 130,000 Native students attending Oklahoma public schools. 

Oregon:

Oregon has passed a bill requiring the Oregon Department of Education to create Native curriculum for public schools and provide related professional development to teachers. The official state website offers a robust list of Native educational resources, including curriculum, newspapers, and organizations. One of these organizations is the Oregon Indian Education Association, which works with school districts to promote Indigenous knowledge in public education.

Oregon has at least one Bureau of Indian Education school serving Native students, the Chemawa Indian School in Salem.

As of 2022, there are more than 6,900 Native students enrolled in public school in Oregon, making up more than 1% of the public school population.

Pennsylvania:

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state. However, there are cultural resources for Native families, such as the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the culture and language of the Lenape people.

As of 2022, there are more than 3,300 Native students enrolled in public school in Pennsylvania, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Rhode Island:

One of the Indian tribes in Rhode Island is the Narragansett Tribe. The tribe’s education department collaborates on many educational opportunities for Indian children, such as academic tutoring and workshops. 

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

As of 2022, there are more than 960 Native students enrolled in public school in Rhode Island, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

South Carolina:

The SC Commission for Minority Affairs has a Native American Affairs Division that promotes Native culture, especially through celebrating Native American Heritage Month in November. 

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

Native students may be eligible for for the state’s education scholarship program, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private school tuition.

As of 2022, there are more than 2,300 Native students enrolled in public school in South Carolina, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

South Dakota:

In South Dakota public schools, Native students are the largest minority group. The state has approved a framework for teaching Native studies called the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards. Over the past five years, Native legislators have repeatedly proposed the creation of public charter schools that immerse students in Lakota Indian language and culture, but so far, no measure has been passed.

Along with North Dakota, South Dakota has one of the highest numbers of schools serving Native students. Schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education include Cheyenne-Eagle Butte School, Flandreau Indian School, and Pine Ridge School.

There are well over a dozen tribally-run schools, including American Horse School, Crazy Horse School, Crow Creek Tribal School, Enemy Swim Day School, Isna Wica Owayawa (Loneman School), Little Eagle Grant School, Little Wound School, Lower Brule Schools, Marty Indian School, Pahin Sinte Owayawa School (Porcupine School), Pierre Indian School Learning Center, Rock Creek Grant School, St. Francis Indian School, Takini School, Tiospa Zina Tribal School, Tiospaye Topa School, and Wounded Knee District School.

Some public school districts, like the Sioux Falls School District, seek to support Native students with special senior honoring ceremonies.

South Dakota also has a few private schools aimed at preserving Native culture, like St. Joseph’s Indian School, Red Cloud Indian School and the new Oceti Sakowin Community Academy.

The South Dakota Indian Education Advisory Council was developed in 2004, and the Indian Education Act was passed in 2007 to support educational opportunities for Native families. You can learn more at the South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations.

There are also numerous non-profits serving Native families in South Dakota. For instance, the Native American Heritage Association provides food and supplies for Native families in need. 

As of 2022, there are more than 14,700 Native students enrolled in public school in South Dakota, making up more than 10% of the public school population.

Tennessee:

Tennessee has a Native American Indian Association, a statewide nonprofit organization that works to promote educational options and awareness of Indian culture. 

Specific Native tribes also offer their own educational programming. For instance, the Kituwah Preservation & Education Program works to revitalize the Cherokee language and promote awareness about the Cherokee people. 

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

As of 2022, there are more than 2,000 Native students enrolled in public school in Tennessee, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Native students who meet certain requirements may be eligible for the state’s Education Student Accounts programs, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private school tuition.

Texas:

In 2023, the Texas Education Agency approved an elective course for high schoolers on American Indian history and culture. Some Texas public school districts offer other special resources and learning opportunities geared toward Native families. For instance, Fort Worth Independent School District has an American Indian Education Program and offers a list online of suggested curricula, texts, and materials.

Additionally, there are state organizations and nonprofits that offer youth learning opportunities. For example, the Indigenous Cultures Institute hosts summer encounters and other youth programming for Native students in Texas and northern Mexico.

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state. 

As of 2022, there are more than 16,500 Native students enrolled in public school in Texas, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Utah:

Utah’s Board of Education has an American Indian Education program to promote opportunities for Native families. The program funds grants for school districts with a high concentration of Native students. 

Utah offers many state resources to promote awareness of Indigenous culture, such as the Utah Education Network’s American Indian Resources.

Native students may be eligible for for the state’s education scholarship program, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning, such as private school tuition.

The state has at least one Bureau of Indian Education school serving Native students, the Aneth Community School in Montezuma Creek, and one Navajo school, Richfield Residential Hall. In 2013, Navajo Nation and the state entered into an agreement to share student performance data with the aim of improving students’ transitions between public schools and Bureau of Indian Education schools.

As of 2022, there are more than 6,900 Native students enrolled in public school in Utah, making up more than 1% of the public school population.

Vermont:

Vermont has a Commission on Native American Affairs that works to empower the Native families in the state. Vermont’s Abenaki communities also offer educational programming. For example, the Nulhegan Abenkai Tribe has coordinated heritage days at schools and cultural workshops. 

There are no Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

As of 2022, there are more than 250 Native students enrolled in public school in Vermont, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Virginia:

Virginia requires that Native education be taught in schools. The state’s Department of Education offers learning resources about Native culture. 

Virginia does not have any Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools.

As of 2022, there are more than 3,700 Native students enrolled in public school in Virginia, making up close to 1% of the public school population.

Washington:

Washington has a tribally-developed curriculum, Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State, that is used by public-schools across the state.

The Washington State Indian Education Association works to improve educational opportunities for Native students, and the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs offers a tribal directory.

Many public school districts offer unique learning opportunities for Native students, such as in Seattle Public Schools District, Spokane Public Schools, Bethel School District, and Peninsula School District. Grand Coulee Dam School District’s Lake Roosevelt Schools have an expanding Indian Education Program that gives students the opportunity to learn about root digging, traditional drumming, Native American literature, and more.

The state also has several tribally-run schools. These include Chief Leschi Schools in Puyallup, Lummi Nation School in Bellingham, Muckleshoot Tribal School in Auburn, Paschal Sherman Indian School in Omak, Quileute Tribal School in LaPush, Wa He Lut Indian School in Olympia, and Yakama Nation Tribal School in Toppenish.

In 2015, the Washington State-Tribal Education Compact Schools affirmed and empowered tribes to increase educational opportunities for Native students.

As of 2022, there are more than 11,900 Native students enrolled in public school in Washington, making up more than 1% of the public school population.

West Virginia:

There are no federally recognized Indian tribes or Bureau of Indian Education schools in this state.

The American Indians of West Virginia group works to promote Native heritage across the state through teaching activities and events. 

As of 2022, there are more than 250 Native students enrolled in public school in West Virginia, making up under 1% of the public school population.

Many Native students are eligible for the state’s Hope Scholarship, which allows families to receive a portion of their child’s public education funding to put toward personalized learning.

Wisconsin:

Wisconsin requires all public school districts to provide instruction on the state’s tribal nations. The state also lists resources related to American Indian education, which include the Wisconsin Indian Education Association. Additionally, Wisconsin First Nations provides educational videos and lesson plans for all grades about Native studies.

There are at least three tribally-run schools in Wisconsin: Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School in Hayward, Menominee Tribal School in Neopit, and Oneida Nation School. In 2022, the Menominee Indian School District opened a pre-K and kindergarten charter school called Kaehkēnawapatāēq, where students practice the Menominee language.

As of 2022, there are more than 8,200 Native students enrolled in public school in Wisconsin, making up about 1% of the public school population.

Wyoming:

Wyoming requires the history and culture of Native tribes in Wyoming to be included in public-school standards.

Wyoming’s Department of Education provides a robust list of Native resources, including Open Range Wyoming, a collection of free educational resources for schools, and Wind River Education Project, lessons and videos about Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho people.

Wyoming has at least one tribally-run school, St. Stephens Indian School, funded by the Bureau of Indian Education. Additionally, Wyoming Indian Schools serve families on the Wind River Reservation.

As of 2022, there are more than 2,800 Native students enrolled in public-school in Wyoming, making up more than 3% of the public school population.

Ultimately, the best educational choice for your unique student is a decision up to you. 

As you school-search, keep in mind that learning in an environment that bolsters your Native heritage does not have to end with high school. There are 37 tribal colleges and universities in the country, such as the Northwest Indian College, which serves Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

To learn more about educational opportunities for Native families, here is a list of additional organizations and resources you may wish to check out: 

  • Administration for Native Americans: The Administration for Native Americans promotes self-sufficiency for Native communities by supporting grants for community-based projects.
  • American Indian Catholic Schools Network: Affiliated with the Alliance for Catholic Education, the American Indian Catholic Schools Network is a coalition of private Native schools representing the Acoma, Blackfeet, Laguna, Lakota, Navajo, Ojibwe, Omaha, San Carlos Apache, and Winnebago Indian tribes.
  • American Indian Education Fund: The American Indian Education Fund (formerly the American Indian Education Foundation) is a program geared toward high school students and their families. It offers scholarships, literacy programs, and school supplies for college.
  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society: The American Indian Science and Engineering Society encourages Native students to pursue STEM education and careers. The organization offers internships, conferences, leadership development, and other programming.
  • Bureau of Indian Education: The Bureau of Indian Education’s mission is to provide quality educational opportunities to Native students in accordance with tribal needs for cultural well-being.
  • Center for Native American Youth: The Center for Native American Youth is a national education organization that supports and advocates for Native young people. 
  • Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs: Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs is a non-profit that supports and advocates for families of Native children with disabilities, developmental delays, special healthcare needs, or who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Indian County Today: Indian County Today is an independent, non-profit news enterprise covering tribes and Native people throughout America. Search “education” at the site for recent education news and developments. 
  • Indigenous Homeschoolers: Indigenous Homeschoolers is a private Facebook group with more than 1,200 members. The group is open to all Indigenous families looking for support and ideas about homeschooling their children.
  • National Congress of American Indians: The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was founded in 1944, making it the oldest American Indian and Alaska Native organization “serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.” One of the policy issues the NCAI focuses on is education.
  • National Museum of the American Indians’ Native Knowledge 360: A project of the Smithsonian, the National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Knowledge 360 offers educational resources on Indigenous culture for a variety of grades. It also offers professional development opportunities for teachers.
  • National Indian Education Association (NIEA): National Indian Education Association’s mission is to advance educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. The NIEA furthers this mission through digital resources, webinars, events, supporting schools in building Native Language programs, and much more. 
  • National Indian Education Study 2019: This in-depth study of Native fourth-graders and eighth-graders around the country provides information about how school teachers and administrators play a part in preserving students’ cultural heritage.
  • National Indian Head Start Directors Association: The National Indian Head Start Directors Association is an organized voice for Indian Head Start programs and the Native families they serve.
  • National Indian Impacted Land Association: The National Indian Impacted Land Association advocates for nearly 600 Indian land school districts, including work to address facility needs.
  • National Johnson O’Malley Association: The National Johnson O’Malley Association is a nonprofit for discussing educational excellence for Indian students and advocating the rights of Indian students.
  • Native American Heritage Month: Officially designated in 1990, November is celebrated as National American Indian Heritage Month or Native American Heritage Month. Google Arts and Culture offers 10 ideas for celebrating the month
  • Native Hope: Native Hope shares Native stories and offers educational resources to support Native communities.
  • Native News Online. One of the “most-read daily American Indian news publications,” the Native News Online has an education section dedicated to developments in K-12 and undergraduate educational opportunities for Native students.
  • Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science: This organization is dedicated to the success of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native students in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM. It offers members an online network, among other opportunities.
  • Tribal Education Departments National Assembly: The Tribal Education Departments National Assembly seeks to provide resources and support to tribes in reclaiming sovereignty in education.
  • White House Tribal Nations Summit 2022: During the November-December 2022 White House Tribal Nations Summit, many announcements impacting Native families were made. Find a full list of initiatives, including several impacting K-12 education, at the White House website.

The information in this guide is designed to help Native families in the K-12 decision-making process. Our mission is to provide families with the information they need about all the school options available – traditional public, public charter, public magnet, private, online, at home, and microschooling – so they can choose the right fit for their child. Read more guides about choosing schools.

The Ultimate Guide to Special Education

As a parent, you want the best education and the best future possible for your child. If he or she is being evaluated for an IEP or you’re thinking they may need some extra help in their educational journey, it can be intimidating to enter the acronym-heavy world of special education. Our mission is to empower and support you, the parent, to make the best decisions for your child’s education, no matter what type of school you choose.

So what does the term “special education” actually mean? Special education is specially designed instruction provided at no cost to a family to meet the specific needs of a child with a disability.  Whether you’re navigating the special education process with your own family or just want to better understand how special education works, we’ve created a parents guide to special education to help you along the way.

What to ask when choosing a school for a special needs child

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What is Special Education?

Special Education Law

Special education, as we think of it today, has not always been accessible to students with disabilities. In fact, it wasn’t until 1975 and the Education for All Handicapped Children Act that a federal law protected the rights of students with disabilities to receive a free, appropriate public education and ensured access to a program that met their needs.

Special education today is guided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This federal law makes sure students with disabilities are provided a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that matches their individual needs. Overall, this law’s goal is to provide kids with disabilities the same opportunities in education that their peers without disabilities have.

Project Child Find

Child Find is a part of IDEA that legally requires schools to find children who have disabilities and need special education services (hereafter referred to as ‘services’). Child Find applies to children from birth through age 21 – including those students who are being homeschooled or are in private schools (more on that in How to Continue Your IEP, Even If You Start Homeschooling). 

While the specifics vary by state and district, all Local Education Agencies (LEAs) must have a process in place to identify students with disabilities regardless of their school choice. Once a student is thought to have a disability, it is the responsibility of the LEA to conduct an evaluation and make an eligibility determination. Each school district must also have a process for identifying and evaluating children who may need special education services. 

Besides identifying children who may need special education and related services, Child Find also informs parents and guardians of the services available to them.

IEP vs. 504 Plan

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans offer formal assistance for K-12 students who need extra support in school. A 504 Plan is a plan for how a school will ensure a child with a disability or impairment has the same access to the learning environment as their non-impaired peers. An IEP is a plan for a child’s special ed experience to ensure they make meaningful educational progress.

The Idaho State Department of Education offers a great Comparison of the IDEA, Section 504, and ADA Laws.

Related Services provide extra help and support so kids can get the most benefit from their education. Often, related services are a part of the special education process. IDEA lists the following as possible related services, but this list is not exhaustive.

Speech-language and audiology services

– Interpreting services

– Psychological services

Occupational Therapy

Physical Therapy

– Counseling services

– Orientation and mobility

– Social work services

If an IEP Team sees that a child has needs in a related service area, this can be evaluated as part of the formal evaluation process. In some cases, a student’s evaluation might indicate a need only in a related service area. For example, maybe a child only needs support in the area of fine motor skills. In this situation, an IEP might be written to provide a related service only. However, federal law says it is each state’s decision whether to allow related services to stand alone on an IEP. Related services can also be provided under a 504 plan if the challenges don’t have an impact on academic learning.

Online Services

For over 20 years, online education for students with disabilities has been occurring. Currently, over 38 states have online instruction! These online schools provide special education and related services by using small group or individualized online instruction, delivery of specialized content virtually, and other related services as indicated by the students’ needs. 

Here are some articles and resources that have been shared about effective online learning and special education services:   

CEC and eLuma: Best Practices for Educating Online

Suggestions to Help Autistic People Get Through This Pandemic

Online Instruction Can (and Does) Work for Students with Disabilities 

When Children with ADHD attend School from Home: An Expert’s Tips

Occupational Therapy and E-learning: Resources, Activities, and Next Steps

Schools can utilize online learning tools, innovative staffing models, and community partnerships to address the needs of students with disabilities and other children facing unique learning obstacles or emotional challenges.

The Special Education Process

While each state has its own process for special education, IDEA outlines some basic steps that’ll be the same wherever you live:

Circle flow chart outlining the 8 steps to the special education process.

1. Identify Needs

There are two ways that a student may be identified as possibly needing special ed and related services: through Project Child Find or by a referral or request for evaluation. Once a student has been identified as potentially needing services, an IEP Meeting will be scheduled where the IEP Team will review all available data and determine if they are going to conduct a formal assessment. If the decision is made to move forward with formal evaluations, parental consent is required before beginning.

2. Formal Evaluation

A formal evaluation is conducted to decide if a student has a disability that requires special education and related services. The evaluation also determines the specific areas of need and the best services for addressing that need. The evaluation that takes place must be individualized to the student and their suspected area of disability. Your State’s IDEA regulations will set the timeline for completion of the evaluation. If they do not, the federal IDEA regulations of 60 days after the parent gives consent applies.

If parents disagree with the results of the evaluation, they have the right to take their child for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). If you want to learn more about IEEs, Private Evaluations: What You Need to Know by Understood is a good resource.

3. Determine Eligibility

Once the requested evaluations have been completed, the IEP Team will schedule another meeting to review results and determine eligibility for special education and related services. The IEP Team, including the student’s parent or guardian, will sit down to review evaluation results and decide if the student is a “child with a disability” as defined by IDEA. If a child is found eligible, IDEA requires that the Team must meet to write an individualized education program (IEP) for them within 30 days.

4. Write an Initial IEP

After a child has been deemed eligible for special education and related services, the school will work with the parents to schedule an IEP meeting. The meeting invitation must state the purpose of the meeting; date, time, and location; who will be attending the meeting; and let parents know that they may also invite people to the meeting. 

At the initial IEP meeting, the IEP Team discusses the child’s needs and writes the IEP. An IEP is a legal, written document that has two general purposes. First, it sets reasonable learning goals for a student. Second, it states the services that the district will provide. The IEP’s learning goals address a student’s participation in the general education curriculum, extracurricular activities, and any nonacademic activities. 

While the format and content of an IEP varies by state and is customized for each child, IDEA outlines specific components that must be included:

– Current Performance: A statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (including how their disability affects involvement and progress in the general education curriculum)

– Annual Goals: Measurable, annual goals (academic and functional)

– Measuring Progress: Description of how progress towards annual goals will be measured and when progress reports will be provided

– Special Education & Related Services: Statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids that will be provided and a description of the program modifications or supports that will be provided (including who will be providing these supports)

– Participation with Nondisabled Children: Explanation of the extent (if any) that the child will receive services in a setting other than their regular class with nondisabled peers

– Participation in State and District-Wide Assessments: Statement of individual accommodations that are needed for the child to demonstrate their knowledge on state and districtwide assessments

– Dates and Places: The projected date for the beginning of services and modifications, as well as their anticipated frequency, location, and duration

– Transition Services Needs: If the student will turn 16 during the life of the IEP, IDEA requires:

– Measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments (related to training, education, employment, and/or independent living skills)

Transition services needed to assist the student in reaching their goals

– Age of Majority: Beginning no later than one year before the child reaches the age of majority under State law, the IEP must include a statement that they have been informed of their rights once they reach the age of majority

Prior to a school system providing any special education and related services, parental consent must be acquired. Services will begin as soon as possible once consent has been given. If parents do not agree with the IEP that has been developed, they have the right to discuss their concerns with the IEP Team. If an agreement cannot be reached, parents or the school can work through mediation or ask for assistance from their state agency. Find more information on this process in your state’s Parental Safeguards document.

5. Provide Services

Once consent has been received, the school makes sure that the IEP is carried out exactly as written. Each of the child’s teachers and service providers has access to the IEP and is made aware of their responsibilities as outlined by the IEP. 

6. Monitor Progress

The child’s teachers and service providers keep track of the progress the child makes toward educational goals. Regular progress reports are provided during the year and the results are discussed at the annual IEP review. 

7. Annual Review of IEP

At least once a year the child’s IEP is reviewed by the IEP Team. However, the IEP can be reviewed more frequently if the parents or the school request it. At the annual review, the child’s progress is discussed as the child continues to grow, and the IEP Team makes appropriate updates to the IEP. 

8. Reevaluation

At least every three years, the child must be reevaluated for continued eligibility for special education and related services and to determine the child’s educational needs. This evaluation is sometimes referred to as the “triennial.”

Special Education and Your School Choice

Traditional Public Schools

All traditional public schools are required to identify and provide services to students with disabilities according to IDEA law.

Public Magnet Schools

Public magnet schools are free public schools that focus on particular themes. As they are publicly funded, they are required by law to identify and provide services to students with disabilities. 

Public Charter Schools

Charter schools are public schools that are created by school districts, colleges, nonprofit organizations, or other entities. These schools are allowed to determine many of their own policies and practices, but since charter schools are public schools, they are required by law to identify and provide services to students with disabilities.

Resources:

Online Public Schools

Online public schools are usually run by state governments, school districts, or charter schools. All online public schools are required to identify and provide services to students with disabilities according to IDEA law. 

To learn more about what special education looks like at an online public school, check out our Q&A with Sarah Betz, an online special education teacher at Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy.

Resources:

Private Schools

Special education varies widely from private school to private school. Some independent schools are designed to meet the specific needs of students with disabilities. Other private schools may offer accommodations, but not specially designed instruction. While private schools may choose to offer special education, they are not required to by law.

If a private school provides special education, it may create an Instructional Services Plan or an Individual Service Plan (ISP). An ISP is a written plan of service that outlines what will be done to meet your child’s needs.

Students with disabilities may also receive a service plan through the local education agency (LEA). IDEA law requires that all LEAs set aside funding for students with disabilities whose parents choose to send them to private school. As this money is limited, these students receive “equitable services”. Equitable services are services similar to what the student would receive in an IEP, however, often fewer services are available than what a child would receive at a public school. These services may be provided on the private school premises or transportation may be provided to the service site.

Resources:

Homeschools

States vary in terms of how much IDEA funding is set aside to provide services to students with disabilities in the private school and homeschool setting. In several states, this funding is used for private school students only. However, some states consider homeschooled students to be in “private schools”, making equitable services available to homeschoolers! A handful of states have specifically expanded the eligibility of equitable services to include homeschoolers.

In at least 31 states and the District of Columbia, homeschooled students may automatically qualify for special education services. To see what is available in your state, check out our round-up here.

DoDEA Schools

Did you know – the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) operates 160 schools in 8 districts across 11 countries, 7 states, and 2 territories serving our military families? DoDEA schools follow IDEA law to identify and provide students with disabilities with a free, appropriate education. All military families should know about the Exceptional Family Member Program which connects families to the resources and programs they’ll need as they relocate around the country and the world. They may also be eligible for the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) which provides financial assistance to beneficiaries with special needs for an integrated set of services and supplies.

DoDEA Resources:

Bureau of Indian Education Schools

All schools run by the Bureau of Indian Education are required by IDEA law to identify and provide services to students with special needs. These schools must utilize the special ed eligibility criteria and the state standards and assessment system in which they are located, in addition to the processes laid out by the Bureau of Indian Education.

Resources:

Alabama

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in Alabama all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Alabama are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Alabama have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. Homeschooled students are not eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free.

These are some Alabama-specific resources to help you further understand school choice for students with disabilities:

Alaska

In Alaska, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Alaska are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Alaska considers homeschooled students taught via correspondence courses in the state to be privately schooled for the purposes of determining access to special education services. Read more about the rules at State of Alaska Correspondence Program Regulations. To learn more about homeschooling your student with disabilities, check out our round-up of resources!

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in Alaska:

Arizona

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in Arizona all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Arizona are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Arizona have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may qualify for equitable services. Parents of homeschooled children can also apply for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) and other state-run scholarships. For more information about homeschooling your students with disabilities, check out our guide!

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in Arizona:

Arkansas

In Arkansas, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Arkansas are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state of Arkansas considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for the purpose of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may qualify for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide!

These are some Arkansas-specific resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

California

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in California all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in California are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in California have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities in California, check out our guide.

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in California:

Colorado

In Colorado, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Colorado are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Colorado considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with special needs, check out our guide!

Here are some Colorado-specific resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

  • Colorado Department of Education Office of Special Education
  • Parent and Child Rights in Special Education: Procedural Safeguards Notice – available in English, Spanish, and more.
  • PEAK Parent Center – offers an array of free and low-cost services to families of children with disabilities and self-advocates.
  • Thrive Center – The THRIVE Center exists to provide parents with information and training about disabilities; parent and children’s rights under IDEA and other laws; and resources in the Denver Metro area.
  • Disability Law Colorado – offers legal representation, information and referrals to people with disabilities, older people, and their families.
  • SWAAAC (Statewide Assistive Technology, Augmentative, and Alternative Communication) – provides multidisciplinary Assistive Technology services to provide students with disabilities equal access to the curriculum and full participation in their education and classroom.
  • Colorado Talking Book Library – CTBL provides audio, Braille, and large print books for people who can’t read standard print.
  • Parent to Parent of Colorado – an organization that connects families with their network of families across Colorado and to the resources that they need.
  • The Arc of Colorado – The Arc of Colorado promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.
  • Special Needs Resource Project – Colorado – This list includes state links, national links, US Military links, and Native American links to resources available in Colorado.

Connecticut

In Connecticut, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Connecticut are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students are not eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free.

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for student with disabilities in Connecticut:

Delaware

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, and charter schools in Delaware all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Delaware are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Delaware have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. As of 2021, homeschooled students may be eligible for some special education services provided by their school district. For more information regarding homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide

These Delaware-specific resources may help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

Florida

In Florida, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Florida are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Florida considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. Parents of students with disabilities can also apply for the Family Empowerment Scholarship. For more information regarding homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide

Here are some Florida-specific resources to help you further understand school choice options for student with disabilities:

Georgia

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, and charter schools in Georgia all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Georgia are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Georgia have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. In Georgia, homeschooled students are considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide.

These Georgia-specific resources will help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Hawaii

In Hawaii, traditional public schools and charter schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Hawaii are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state of Hawaii considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide!

Here are some Hawaii-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Idaho

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in Idaho all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Idaho are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Idaho have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. Homeschooled students can dual enroll in their public school; however, under state regulations, homeschooled students may not dually enroll solely for the purpose of receiving special education services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Idaho:

Illinois

In Illinois, traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Illinois are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state of Illinois considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information regarding homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Illinois-specific resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Indiana

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in Idaho all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Idaho are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Indiana have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. Homeschooled students in Indiana are considered privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Indiana:

Iowa

In Iowa, traditional public schools, charter schools, online public schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Illinois are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Iowa homeschooled students taught through a program of “competent private instruction” may dual enroll in their local public school for the purposes of receiving special education services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide.

Here are some Iowa specific resources to help you understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

Kansas

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in Kansas all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Kansas are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Idaho have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. Homeschooled students are considered as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. To find out more about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Kansas-specific resources may help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

Kentucky

Traditional public schools and magnet schools in Kentucky all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Kentucky are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Kentucky have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state of Kentucky considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources to help you understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in Kentucky:

Louisiana

In Louisiana, traditional public schools, charter schools, online public schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Louisiana are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services and are not eligible for services from their school district for free. 

These Louisiana-based resources may help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

Maine

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in Maine all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Maine are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Maine have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Homeschooled students are considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services, provided that the student is enrolled in a program “recognized by the Department as providing equivalent instruction” to private schools. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in Maine:

Maryland

In Maryland, traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Maryland are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students in Maryland do not automatically qualify for special education services provided under IDEA, although local districts can choose to make services available. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Maryland-specific resources may help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

Massachusetts

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in Massachusetts all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Massachusetts are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Massachusetts have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in Massachusetts:

Michigan

In Michigan, traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Michigan are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services and may be eligible for equitable services, provided the parents have registered their homeschool with the Michigan Department of Education. For more information on homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Michigan-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

  • Michigan Department of Education Special Education website
  • Procedural Safeguards Fact Sheet explaining the protections for students and parents under the IDEA – available in English, Spanish, and Arabic.
  • Procedural Safeguards Notice – available in English, Spanish, and more.
  • Special Education Process Fact Sheet explaining the special education process including the steps from evaluation to eligibility, program, specialized instruction, and placement – available in English, Spanish, and Arabic.
  • Family Matters – Family Matters is an outreach effort from the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education to provide parents with information about special education and other resources.
  • Michigan Alliance for Families – Michigan Alliance for Families is a statewide resource to connect families of children with disabilities to resources to help improve their children’s education.
  • The Arc of Michigan – The vision of the Arc of Michigan is that all people realize and fulfill their dreams of having employment, education, meaningful relationships, and living independently within their community.
  • Special Needs Resource Project – Michigan – This list includes state links, national links, US Military links, and Native American links to resources available in Michigan.

Minnesota

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in Minnesota all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Minnesota are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Minnesota have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Homeschooled students are considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible to receive equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Minnesota-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Mississippi

In Mississippi, traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Mississippi are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Parents of students who wish to attend private schools can also apply for the Educational Savings Account program, which provides parents with funding to pay for special education services. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information regarding homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Mississippi:

Missouri

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in Missouri all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Missouri are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Missouri have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible to receive equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Missouri-specific resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Montana

In Montana, traditional public schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities. Private schools in Montana are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Montana-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Nebraska

Traditional public schools and magnet schools in Nebraska all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Nebraska are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Nebraska have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources to help you further understand school choice options for student with disabilities in Nebraska:

Nevada

In Nevada, traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities. Private schools in Nevada are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Nevada considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Nevada-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

New Hampshire

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in New Hampshire all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in New Hampshire are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in New Hampshire have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Homeschooled students in New Hampshire are not considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services and are not eligible for special education services provided by the school district. Parents may qualify for income-based scholarships that can fund special education services, tutoring, or homeschool expenses.

Here are some resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in New Hampshire:

New Jersey

In New Jersey, traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities. Private schools in New Jersey are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. In New Jersey, homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services and are not eligible to receive equitable services from their school district for free.

These New Jersey-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

New Mexico

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in New Mexico all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in New Mexico are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in New Mexico have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. In New Mexico, homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services and are not eligible for equitable services provided by their district for free.

Here are some resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in New Mexico:

New York

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, and charter schools in New York all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in New York are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in New York have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state of New York considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible to receive equitable services for free. For more information about homeschooling your student with disabilities, check out our round-up here!

These are some state-specific resources to help you further understand special education and school choice in New York:

North Carolina

In North Carolina, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in North Carolina are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschool students may be eligible for special education services provided by their district for free. For more information about homeschooling your student with disabilities in North Carolina, visit our round-up here!

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for your student with a disability in North Carolina:

North Dakota

Traditional public schools in North Dakota all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in North Dakota are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in North Dakota have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Homeschooled students are not considered as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education and are not eligible for free services from their district.

These North Dakota-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Ohio

In Ohio, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Ohio are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Ohio homeschool and private school students with disabilities are eligible for the Jon Peterson Scholarship program, which provides parents with scholarships of up to $27,000 annually in lieu of providing them with a free and appropriate public education. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Ohio-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Oklahoma

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Oklahoma all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Oklahoma are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Oklahoma have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Parents or guardians can apply for the Lindsey Nicole Henry (LNH) Scholarship to attend a participating private school. In Oklahoma, homeschooled students with disabilities are not eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Oklahoma:

Oregon

In Oregon, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Oregon are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state considers homeschool students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services provided by the district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Oregon-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Pennsylvania

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Pennsylvania all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Pennsylvania are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Pennsylvania have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Pennsylvania homeschool students may be considered eligible for special education services provided by their local district. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Pennsylvania-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

  • Pennsylvania Department of Education Special Education website
  • Parents’ Rights: Understanding the Procedural Safeguards Notice by the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network – available in English and Spanish.
  • Pennsylvania Parent Guide to Special Education for School-Age Children by the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network – available in English and Spanish.
  • Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) – PaTTAN provides a full array of professional development and technical assistance targeted to improving student results.
  • PEAL Center – The PEAL Center is an organization of parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs who educates and empowers families to ensure that children, youth, and young adults with disabilities and special health care needs lead rich, active lives.
  • The Arc of Pennsylvania – The Arc of Pennsylvania promotes the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.
  • Special Needs Resource Project – Pennsylvania – This list includes state links, national links, US Military links, and Native American links to resources available in Pennsylvania.

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, traditional public schools, magnet schools, and charter schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Rhode Island are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services and are not eligible for equitable services provided by their district for free.

Here are some resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Rhode Island:

South Carolina

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in South Carolina all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in South Carolina are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in South Carolina have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement.  Parents can apply to the Exceptional Needs Children Fund to receive a scholarship towards private school if your child has a disability and you believe that the assigned public school does not meet their needs. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These South Carolina-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

South Dakota

In South Dakota, traditional public schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in South Dakota are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for determining access to special education services and are not eligible for equitable services provided by their district for free.

Here are some South Dakota-specific resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Tennessee

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Tennessee all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Tennessee are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Tennessee have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide. Parents of special needs students can also apply for the Individualized Education Account program, which gives parents funds to pay for special education services. If you’re interested in the Individualized Education Account program, you can obtain more information and an application at the Tennessee Department of Education.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Tennessee:

Texas

In Texas, traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Texas are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Texas-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

  • Texas Education Agency Special Education website
  • Special Education in Texas A-Z Index – This index by the Texas Education Agency has listed many education-related topics alphabetically linking to where they are used on the TEA’s website.
  • Notice of Procedural Safeguards – available in English, Spanish, and more
  • Parent’s Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) Process – available in English and Spanish.
  • SPEDTex – SPEDTex provides information and resources to help parents understand their child’s disability, their rights and responsibilities under IDEA,and facilitate collaboration that supports the development and delivery of services.
  • Texas Project FIRST: Families, Information, Resources, Support & Training – Texas Project FIRST is a project of the Family to Family Network committed to providing accurate and consistent information to parents and families of students with disabilities.
  • Partners Resource Network – The Partners Resource Network is a nonprofit agency that operates the Texas statewide network of Parent Training and Information Centers that help parents understand their child’s disability; understand their rights & responsibilities; obtain and evaluate resources and services; and participate in planning services.
  • The Arc of Texas – The Arc of Texas promotes, protects, and advocates for the human rights and self-determination of Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Special Needs Resource Project – Texas – This list includes state links, national links, US Military links, and Native American links to resources available in Texas.

Utah

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Utah all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Utah are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Utah have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Parents of students with disabilities who would like to enroll their students in a private school can apply for the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program (CSS) to help with tuition. Homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education and are not eligible for services by the school district for free unless they are dually enrolled in a public school. However, starting in 2024, the Utah Fits All Scholarship will provide flexible funding for families choosing to enroll in a nonpublic school option, like homeschooling. Families can use this funding for customized learning needs, including occupational, behavioral, physical, audiology, or speech-language therapies.

These Utah-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Vermont

In Vermont, traditional public schools and magnet schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Vermont are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. In some cases, Vermont homeschool students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. While not strictly required by law, some districts elect to provide special education services to homeschoolers through a Services Plan. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Vermont:

Virginia

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Virginia all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Vermont are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Vermont have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services provided by their school district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Virginia-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Washington

In Washington, traditional public schools and magnet schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Washington are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students in Washington can receive “ancillary services” from their home district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities in Washington, visit our guide.

These Washington-state-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

West Virginia

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in West Virginia all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in West Virginia are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in West Virginia have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Homeschool students are not considered privately schooled students for determining access to special education services and are not eligible to receive equitable services from their school district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in West Virginia:

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, traditional public schools and magnet schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Wisconsin are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Local districts do not have to provide special education services to homeschooled students; however, they may choose to do so. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Wisconsin-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Special Education website
  • Part B: Procedural Safeguards Notice – available in English, Spanish, and more.
  • An Introduction to Special Education by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction – available in English, Spanish, and more.
  • Special Education in Plain Language: A User-Friendly Handbook on Special Education Laws, Policies, and Practices in Wisconsin – available in English and Spanish
  • Wisconsin Statewide Parent Educator Initiative (WSPEI) – WSPEI helps families and school districts by assisting families with navigating special education and partnering with schools through technical assistance, trainings, and programs.
  • Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training, and Support (WI FACETS) – WI FACETS provides information on special education and IEPs and referrals to agencies and resources, parent support groups, parent and youth leadership development, and trainings.
  • Wisconsin Family Ties – Wisconsin Family Ties provides information and referrals, family support, education, and Parent Peer Specialists to assist families of children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders.
  • Alianza Latina Aplicando Soluciones – Alianza Latina Aplicando Soluciones is a nonprofit organization that provides educational workshops, parent support groups, family events, community building activities, and service referrals to families of children and youth with diverse abilities.
  • Arc of Wisconsin – The Arc of Wisconsin provides information and referral services, individual advocacy to address education, employment, health care and other concerns, self-advocacy initiatives, residential support, employment programs, leisure and recreational programs.
  • Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin (ASW) – The ASW builds relationships and partnerships with other community agencies with the goal of building autism friendly, inclusive communities.
  • Family Voices of Wisconsin – Family Voices of Wisconsin is a statewide network of families who have children and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities by providing information, training, and leadership opportunities.
  • Well Badger Resource Center – The Well Badger Resource Center is a health information and referral program that assists in finding needed programs and services such as early intervention screening.
  • Special Needs Resource Project – Wisconsin – This list includes state links, national links, US Military links, and Native American links to resources available in Wisconsin.

Wyoming

Traditional public schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Wyoming all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Wyoming are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Wyoming have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services provided by their school district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Wyoming:

Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., traditional public schools and magnet schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Washington, D.C. are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. In D.C., homeschooled students are considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services provided by their district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Washington, D.C.-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

National Resources


The information in this guide to special education is designed to help families who are interested in learning more about the school choice options for students with disabilities in their state.  Our mission is to provide families with the information they need about all the school options available – traditional public, public charter, public magnet, private, online, and at home – so they can choose the right fit for their child.  Read more guides about the other types of schools.

K-12 School Terms Made Simple (Education Glossary)

Parents desperately want the best education for their kids. But sometimes it can be hard to find! It can feel like a full-time job to understand how the education system works and what the different words you hear in education mean. If you worry that you don’t have time to comb through the internet and figure it out, you’re not alone. In fact, so many parents have shared that sentiment with us that we’ve put together this education glossary, packed with clear explanations of K-12 school terms. 

The education world shouldn’t be so confusing. To help, we’ve created a glossary of education terms you may hear in choosing a school for your child. Understanding what these terms really mean can make the school search process smoother.

Quickly search for an education term by hitting Ctrl+F (on a Windows PC, Chromebook, or Linux system), or Command+F (on a Mac). If there are more terms you’d like to see added to this K-12 education glossary, let us know at info@schoolchoiceweek.com. We will continue to add to this page as we receive recommendations.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page for easy reference!

A

Accessibility: In education, accessibility refers to students with disabilities being offered the opportunity to encounter the same information and services as those without disabilities.  

Accommodation: An accommodation is a change or adaptation that helps a student overcome or work with their disability. The content that the child is expected to learn does not change with an accommodation.  These supports and services assist a student with accessing the general curriculum and demonstrating learning.

Accountability: Accountability refers to what measures are in place so that people are held responsible to standards and meeting their goals in education. School accreditation, for example, can hold school staff accountable to their accrediting organization. If they fail to meet the accreditor’s standards for quality and growth, a school can lose accreditation. 

While many states use a rating system (like A-F grades) to describe school performance for public school options, each state has its own specific measures of school quality and student success. In Virginia, for instance, the Standards of Learning, annual statewide assessments, and accreditation ratings make up the accountability system for public schools. Accountability requirements for private schools and for homeschooling families also vary by state. 

School principals are accountable to their superintendent, who is accountable to the school board. Ultimately, schools, administrators, and school boards are (or should be) primarily accountable to the parents of the students in their schools, and to the taxpayers who fund those schools.

Accreditation: If a school has accreditation, that means it has met the quality standards of an accrediting organization. While accreditation is streamlined at the college level, accreditation of K-12 schools is more varied and inconsistent. Each state has its own accreditation standards, and not all states require accreditation for every public school.

The major accreditors for K-12 schools include Cognia, the Middle States Association, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. You should be able to find information about your public school’s accreditation on your school’s website or an accreditor’s website. 

Private schools generally set their own rules for accreditation. Some private schools do choose to participate in accreditation programs. This can help show parents their commitment to academic excellence and growth. Besides the major accreditors and the National Council for Private School Accreditation, there are also smaller accreditors that private schools may use, such as Christian or Montessori ones.

Accreditation is just one piece of the puzzle to consider when choosing a school. You can always decide to switch between an unaccredited and an accredited school. If you do, your child may take a placement test to prove competency of their grade level.

Achievement Gap: An education achievement gap is the difference in academic performance or graduation rates between groups of students, and may be influenced by a wide variety of societal factors. For example, white students from the class of 2020 averaged a math score of 547 on the SAT while Latino or Hispanic students averaged 478.  Whether an achievement gap is widening or closing over time can play an important role in education policy. Today, many educators are concerned about Black-white academic achievement gaps widening in the aftermath of pandemic-related shutdowns. 

Adaptive Behavior: In special education, adaptive behavior refers to an individual’s ability to act socially appropriate and personally responsible. Educators generally measure this by identifying how well the individual manages in their own environment.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): Adequate Yearly Progress initially referred to a measure of accountability for student performance that schools, districts, and states were held to by the No Child Left Behind Act. In 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act replaced No Child Left Behind. The Every Student Succeeds Act gave each state more flexibility to define adequate yearly progress. Now, for example, not just state tests but also graduation rates and school safety can be used to track progress a school is making toward the goal of having all students proficient.

Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD): The Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) team is a team of individuals that includes, at a minimum, parents, a special education teacher, someone qualified to interpret test results, district representation, and a general education teacher.  These individuals are responsible for the development and review of a child’s IEP, evaluation/re-evaluation, and behavior plans as needed.  The ARD team must meet at least once a year by law; however, teachers or parents can call at any time. In some states, this team is called the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team.

Advanced Placement (AP) Program: The Advanced Placement (AP) program gives high school students the opportunity to take college-level work. AP classes can be a rewarding experience for students looking for a challenge. Plus, by taking AP exams, students can earn credit accepted at many colleges and universities. You can search prospective colleges at the College Board to learn more about what AP courses they award credit for. 

Age of Majority: The age of majority is the age at which a student gains the rights to make his or her own decisions – including any decision related to education. Most states describe the age of majority as18 years old.

Alternative Assessments: An alternative assessment is an opportunity for a student to demonstrate the skills they’ve learned via a means other than traditional testing. An alternative assessment may look like presenting a portfolio of work samples, completing a project, or keeping a journal of learning

A student in a science class may take a traditional test measuring their knowledge. Or, for the student’s final grade, the teacher may have them present a science experiment showing what they’ve learned. That’s an example of an alternative assessment. 

Alternative School: Alternative schools are places of learning for students who have not thrived in traditional classrooms. Alternative schools may have a smaller student-to-staff ratio; they may be able to offer specialized services that meet students’ behavioral needs.

American Collegiate Test (ACT): The American Collegiate Test or ACT is one of the most commonly used assessment tests measuring a high school student’s readiness for college. Many colleges and universities consider ACT, SAT, or even CLT scores in their admissions decision. The ACT assesses students in the areas of English, Reading, Math, and Science. Usually, students take it their junior or senior year of high school. 

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The Americans with Disabilities Act is a law enacted in 1990 that gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities.  This law protects people with disabilities at work, school, and in public places.

Annual Review: In special education, an annual review is a meeting that occurs once a year where the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team or ARD Committee reviews a student’s progress towards their goals, looks at new data, and updates information related to what the student needs to be successful.

Annual Goal: In special education, an annual goal is a required component of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that states what a student will achieve in a year. 

Antecedent Behavioral Consequences Chart (ABC): The Antecedent Behavioral Consequences (ABC) chart is a behavioral observation tool used to create a record of a student’s behaviors.  This tool assists with determining the triggers and motivations behind behaviors. As part of the ABC chart, the observer records what happens just before a behavior. The observer also records a description of the behavior and the consequence of the behavior.  This type of observation is frequently completed as part of a functional behavioral assessment (FBA).

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA): Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is a technique used for correcting behavior and social skill deficits. It is based on an understanding of how positive reinforcement causes behaviors to repeat. One pillar of ABA is discrete trial training (DTT). This means breaking a skill down into its most basic steps and teaching it systematically. Each component lays the foundation for the next.

Assessment: Assessments are ways of collecting information about a student’s strengths, needs, and interests. People generally think of assessments as tests. But, they can also include observation, record review, and talking with the student and/or parents.

Assistive Technology (AT): Assistive technology is technology used by individuals with disabilities to perform functions in the education environment that they might otherwise not be able to do.  Some examples of assistive technology can include walkers, wheelchairs, sound amplifiers, communication devices, pencil grips, or word prediction software.

At-risk: A student is “at-risk” if the school is concerned that they may fail or drop out. A school may deem a student at-risk if he or she misses many classes. Or, a student may be at-risk if his or her behavior or quality of school assignments significantly deteriorates. Circumstances such as neglect, food insecurity, or homelessness can place a child at-risk. 

Audiologist: An audiologist is a specialist who studies hearing.  Audiologists administer hearing assessments to identify hearing loss and assist with the steps that follow.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Device (AAC): An AAC device is a tool that uses a method of communication other than speech to communicate an individual’s thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas.  AAC devices can be electronic (like tablets) or manual (like communication boards).  

Authorizer: Charter schools have authorizers, entities that set rules about who can start a charter school and what expectations it must meet to stay open. States have different laws about who an authorizer may be. The majority of authorizers are local education agencies. Authorizers can also be universities, state education agencies, independent boards, municipalities, or nonprofit organizations.

B

Baseline: A baseline is a student’s starting point, determined by data collected through screening tools.  The baseline measures student progress throughout the year.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP): A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is a written plan that identifies the specific strategies, interventions and supports the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team will use to reinforce positive behaviors and decrease problem behaviors.  The BIP should be based on multiple data sources, including a Functional Behavioral Assessment

Benchmark: Benchmarks are milestones that enable parents, students, and educators to track a student’s progress throughout the year.

Blaine Amendment: In the late 19th century, fueled by anti-Catholic sentiment, some states adopted amendments to their state constitutions restricting the use of public funds for religious institutions, like private religious schools. These are known as the Blaine Amendments

Today, these Blaine Amendments still impact families’ school choices. For example, in Maine, students who live in a town without its own public school receive a tuition benefit to attend a public or private school elsewhere of their choice. Yet, until the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, families could not select a private religious school because of the state’s Blaine Amendment.

Blended Learning: In hybrid learning or blending learning, part of a student’s education takes place online (sometimes even from home) and some takes place face-to-face in a classroom or learning center. For example, Goal Academy in Ohio is an online school with drop-in centers where students can receive extra tutoring, support, or networking. As another example, a teacher that combines online homework with in-person class time is using a blended approach. 

Block Scheduling: Block scheduling is when the school day for middle or high schoolers is organized into blocks of time longer than the usual 40-50-minute class periods. In a block schedule, classes will be longer, such as 90-120 minutes. The longer classes may take place only every other day. Or, they may be designed so that students finish a class in a semester rather than a full school year. 

Blue Ribbon School: The National Blue Ribbon School Program is a program run by the U.S. Department of Education to recognize great schools across the country. Each year, this program gives Blue Ribbon School awards to schools that are demonstrating academic excellence or great progress in closing achievement gaps. Schools of all types— public or private, huge or small—can be Blue Ribbon Schools.

Board of Education: A board of education (or school board) consists of community members who are either elected or appointed to represent and make decisions about their public school district. Rather than politicians, board of education members are usually simply community leaders, parents, or retired school leaders or education professionals interested in making a difference. 

Each district in the U.S.  has a board of education. Each one consists of about three to nine members who regularly come together for meetings to discuss educational needs in their district. 

Board members are leaders tasked with making important decisions affecting you and your child. For example, the board may be responsible for hiring or firing the superintendent. They may be in charge of approving contracts, setting a budget, setting a school calendar, or expanding or closing schools. 

Board of education meetings are usually open to the public. You can search for your district’s board of education online to find out who the members are. You can also find out when they meet and what their upcoming agenda is. In many cases, board meetings include an opportunity for parents to speak up, ask questions, or provide feedback. 

Brick and Mortar School: Brick and mortar schools are ones where students attend classes in-person, in a physical building. 

Bullying: Bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior among children. Bullying could take the form of making threats, spreading rumors, using physical force, or intentionally excluding someone from a group. 

Some states have special programs or opportunities to help families who have experienced bullying in a school environment. In Florida, the Hope Scholarship allows any public school student who has been a victim of bullying to receive a scholarship to transfer to a private school.  

C

Career and Technical Education: Career and technical education is learning that focuses on equipping students for skill-based careers that are in high-demand, such as engineering, manufacturing, or health science. Career and technical education is characterized by hands-on learning and real work experience so that students can more readily complete certifications and confidently enter the workforce

For example, Alex Hammel, superintendent at an Indiana school that focuses on career and technical education, shared this about the approach: “We really want to get our students to understand what options are out there in work before they leave high school. Even if they’re going to college, we want them to have a good foundation of what they’re interested in… We’ve got great business partnerships across all of our different areas that are really critical to what we’re doing.”

Character Education (character development): Character education focuses on teaching students core universal values, which may include justice, responsibility, empathy, leadership, honesty, and more. Many community members see character education as a responsibility shared by parents and educators to help students succeed. 

Some schools are National Schools of Character, which means they have participated in a certification program and are committed to teaching character education at their school.  

Charter Schools: Charter schools are free public schools that may be created by districts, colleges, nonprofit organizations, or other entities. Students do not need to take tests for acceptance into public charter schools. What makes charter schools different from traditional public schools is that they have more flexibility in trying out unique instruction methods and approaches to education.

Child Find Program: Child Find is a program mandated by IDEA that continuously searches for and evaluates children who may have a disability. Federal law mandates the program. But the programs themselves can vary between school districts.

Classical Education: Classical education is a learning approach that draws on the insights and methods of Western tradition and that has the goal of educating the whole student. In Classical education, students enter into “conversations” with history’s great minds by reading their written works. This trains students to think analytically and articulate big ideas. Equipped with that knowledge and training, students can choose what to believe and how to live their lives moving forward.  

Classical education traditionally begins with the study of grammar and learning the other building blocks of knowledge, continues through the study of logic and cause and effect, and then proceeds to the study of rhetoric, where a student explores writing, speaking, and specialized knowledge. 

The Great Books, the Socratic Method, a Liberal Arts curriculum, and learning Latin are all hallmarks of classical education.

Classic Learning Test: The Classic Learning Test (CLT) is a college readiness exam that draw on classical texts to test student aptitude. While not accepted by all colleges, the CLT partners with a growing number of colleges, especially private, liberal arts colleges. Currently, more than 250 colleges accept the CLT as a complete replacement for the SAT or ACT.

Classroom Management: Classroom management is the way in which a classroom functions. This includes the way lessons are planned, and interactions between students, peers, and the teacher. It also includes rules, rewards, and techniques a teacher uses to make the classroom a safe, comfortable place for students. A teacher’s classroom management may look different depending on many factors: class size, teacher personality, school culture, and so on. 

College Preparatory Program: College preparatory programs have a special focus on getting students ready for college-level classes. While college success is a goal at most high schools, college preparatory schools may spend more time developing students’ study skills, imitating a college class structure, and teaching independence and time management.

Common Core: The Common Core is a set of national learning goals, launched in 2009, with math and English language learning goals laid out for each grade (from kindergarten through 12th grade). The Common Core initiative encouraged states to adopt its set of learning standards so that students and educators around the country could work toward shared, consistent goals

45 states adopted Common Core standards, but, as of 2020, 24 have repealed or edited them and four states have withdrawn from them. Still, Common Core continues to inform the learning standards and goals that many states teach.

Community Schools: Community schools refer to public schools with a particular focus on partnering with local non-profits and organizations (from farms to dentist offices) to provide in- and out-of-school resources to students and families. There are several community schools in New York City, for example. You can learn more at the Coalition for Community Schools.

Compulsory Education Law: Compulsory education laws refer to states’ rules about the minimum and maximum ages at which a child must be enrolled in school. For example, California’s compulsory education law requires children between the ages of six and eighteen to attend school, unless they have already graduated high school or passed the California High School Proficiency Exam. Compulsory education ages vary by state; you can check your state’s department of education for more information.

Continuum of Services: A continuum of services refers to the range of special education and related services that are available to assist any student in a school or school district to provide instruction in the least restrictive environment.

Core Knowledge: A Core Knowledge curriculum gives students information through oral telling and experience, focusing on building common knowledge rather than on specific learning objectives like decoding or comparing and contrasting. A Core Knowledge curriculum teaches students a sequence of knowledge, progressing from simple knowledge to more complex.  

Lynn Peterson, the executive director at a Minnesota school using Core Knowledge, described the approach to us this way:

“It’s a vast continuum of knowledge that kids need to know in order to be literate in today’s world. While the pendulum [in education] was swinging towards phonics and getting everyone to phonetically read, once they were able to read fluently what they were lacking was vocabulary. So they could say the word ‘revolution,’ but they had no context as to what that word meant. By exposing students to a rich vocabulary in kindergarten and first grade, even though they can’t read some of those words, we can talk about the concepts. Kids are sponges, right? You can share stories about great presidents or ancient Pompeii, high interest things with words that they might not recognize in print but can comprehend and relate back to you. A Core Knowledge school gives kids information through oral telling, through experience, and we add on to their knowledge all the time.” 

A Core Knowledge curriculum may also be described as a “content-rich curriculum.” The Core Knowledge approach was developed by E.D. Hirsch in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Credit Recovery: Credit recovery refers to opportunities for high school students to make up failed or missed courses. Students can sometimes take credit recovery courses during the summer or at an accelerated pace to catch up and graduate. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, as many as 1 in 13 public high school students in the U.S. participated in credit recovery programs. 

Culture (School Culture): School culture refers to the “feel,” values, and traditions of a school community. While invisible, a school culture can have a tremendous impact on a student’s comfort level and ability to succeed. School culture often plays a big role in a family’s school choice decision. 

Cumulative File: A cumulative file is a file that is maintained by the school and contains a student’s family information, medical history, academic records, and other information as needed.  Parents have the right to view their child’s file at any time.

Curriculum: A curriculum refers to planned instructional material (such as lessons, practice work, tests, and experiences) and knowledge goals. Terms such as scope (what content will be covered) and sequence (what order the content is covered in) often describe curriculum.

Your child’s curriculum is chosen by an educator or school leader, or you, if you choose homeschooling. A curriculum guides the overall learning experience for students. 

There are some common threads between curricula across the U.S. For example, most high school curricula require students to take four years of math. However, the math lessons, homework, and testing may vary widely depending on the particular curriculum your child is using.   

Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM): Curriculum-based measurements are short, regular assessments that are used to monitor student performance.  CBMs are often informal assessments. They can involve checklists or oral questions a teacher uses to gauge a student’s skill mastery.  

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Department of Education: The Department of Education began operating in the spring of 1980. As it stands today, the US Department of Education has four main responsibilities:

  • Creating the policy related to federal financial aid, distributing those funds, and monitoring how they are used
  • Collecting data and providing oversight for research on America’s schools; then sharing the information with Congress, educators, and the general public
  • Identifying major issues and problems in education to focus national attention on them
  • Enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal funding

Each state has their own department of education that can be called by a different name.  For example, in North Carolina the State Department of Education is known as the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction or NCDPI.  In California it is simply referred to as the California Department of Education.  To see a list of the education offices in your state, check out the State Contacts Map on the U.S. Department of Education website.

Diagnostic Assessment/Screening: A diagnostic assessment or screening is a targeted, in-depth tool used to identify what a student already knows, where they are having difficulty, and the specific skill area where interventions are needed.  These assessments are generally done in a one-on-one setting.

Differentiated Instruction: Differentiated instruction is a method of teaching that focuses on creating varied experiences that meet the different learning levels and needs of students in a class. Some of the goals of differentiated instruction are to acknowledge the diversity of student learners, regularly assess students’ needs and progress, and offer them choices and customized learning experiences. Differentiated instruction is one of the most popular learning approaches. 

District: A school district is a geographical area including several schools, which are governed by one particular authority. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are more than 13,000 regular school districts in the United States. Some of the nation’s largest districts are New York City, Los Angeles Unified, Chicago, and Miami-Dade County. In many states, what district you live in will determine some of the school choices available to you, such as whether your child can attend any public school or just the one you are assigned.

Dual Enrollment: Dual enrollment (or an early college program) is the opportunity for high school students to be enrolled in high school and college classes at the same time, getting a jumpstart on their college degree. High school students who are dual enrolled take classes at community colleges or other nearby colleges. They get a taste of college-level studies and save money on college tuition. 

We spoke to Nya Berry, mom and executive director at Nevada State High School, an early college program. She described her own experience of choosing the school for her son: 

“My middle son happens to be a kiddo that struggled with ADHD and had a 504 Plan. I felt like the traditional school environment wasn’t working for him. I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to be able to have this kid prepared to go to college and take on the challenging courses and not die doing it. Where can I give my kid the exposure? Where can I make sure that he learns to be responsible.’ [Through Nevada State High School’s early college program] He just grew up in two years and that’s what I was looking for— that ability to help me help this kid start to adult.” 

Dual-language Program: In a dual-language program, students receive a significant amount of their weekly instruction in a partner language (a language other than English). That partner language could be Spanish, French, German, or another language. Dual language programs are designed to help students become bilingual or maintain a second language, to help students gain confidence, and to immerse students in a second culture. Sometimes students in these programs are referred to as “multilingual learners.”

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Early College Program: See Dual Enrollment.

EdTech: “EdTech” is short for education technology. EdTech refers to a wide variety of technological tools used in the classroom to promote learning. Some examples? Kahoot offers quiz games for learning, Google Classroom can be a hub for students and teachers, and Flip may be used for sharing video assignments.

Education Savings Account: Parents using an education savings account program can receive public education funds to use for a variety of approved education costs. Depending on their state, families may be able to use the funds for private school fees, homeschooling, tutoring, community college, or school transportation costs. Education savings accounts seek to give families increased flexibility to create a customized education plan that helps their child flourish. 

For the 2024-2025 school year, there will be active ESA programs in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. Additionally, in 2021, Missouri created a unique ESA program funded by tax-credit donations (rather than directly by the state).

ESAs are a popular form of school choice. As of 2023, 83% of parents supported ESA programs when provided with a description of how the programs work.

Enrollment: Enrollment in K-12 education means meeting local requirements to register your child at a school. To enroll, parents will typically need to provide information such as their child’s street address, age, and health information. Different schools will have different enrollment deadlines and requirements. School districts cannot ask about a child’s citizenship or immigration status to establish residency in the district, and they cannot deny a homeless child enrollment.

Extracurricular Options: Extracurricular options refer to all of the opportunities students and families have at a school outside of the required academic classes. These may include sports, orchestra, drama or chess clubs, debate teams, student newspaper, and much more. Extracurricular options can be one valuable factor to consider in making a school choice. 

English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Language Learners (ELL): Like it sounds, English as a Second Language (ESL) refers to programs that help students who are non-native English-speakers learn English. English Language Learners (ELL) is a term that is often used to refer to students in these programs. 

Evaluation: In special education, an evaluation means the procedures used to determine whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services that the child may need.

Every Student Succeeds Acts: The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law in 2015 and replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. This national law outlines a commitment to equal opportunity for all students. In particular, ESSA introduced more flexibility in testing and encouraged states to expand personalized learning.

Extended School Year (ESY): In special education, extended school year is a provision that allows students to receive instruction during school “vacation” periods to prevent serious regression of previously learned skills.  The intent is to maintain already learned skills and not introduce new ones. Extended school year eligibility is determined by a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team.

Extrinsic Motivation: Extrinsic motivation refers to when your child is doing something because of a motivation outside themselves, rather than from personal curiosity or satisfaction. An example of this is if your child participates in a reading contest because they want to win free pizza!

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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law regulating the management of student records and disclosure of information from those records.

FEP: FEP means fully English proficient (fluent).

504Plan: A 504 plan helps a child who meets the criteria for a disability that interferes with accessing their education.  The 504 plan outlines accommodations and modifications that the student needs to ensure academic success and their ability to access their learning environment. Generally, a 504 plan is not as involved as an Individualized Education Plan. The main difference between a 504 plan and an IEP is the provision of specially designed instruction; students with a 504 plan learn alongside their peers rather than receiving individualized special education instruction.

Flipped classroom: The flipped classroom refers to one type of instructional approach. In the flipped classroom model, students learn new material independently through homework rather than by being introduced to it during class. Then, teachers use class time for engaging and applying that new learning material. One of the goals of the flipped classroom model is to make the classroom experience more individualized and interactive

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is a part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that describes the right of a student with disabilities to receive special education and related services that meet their specific needs at no cost to their parents or guardians. One way a school may provide an appropriate education is by developing an Individualized Education Program for each student with disabilities. 

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA): A Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is a data-collection and analysis process used by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team to understand a student’s problematic behavior.

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Gamification: Gamification is an instructional approach that brings elements of playing a game into a classroom. Teachers may use game elements like gaining points or completing activities to move to the next level to motivate students. Often, gamification’s goal is to make learning more fun and engaging for students. 

Gifted Program: A gifted program is designed to bring unique support to academically exceptional students whose needs are not being met in a traditional learning environment. Students in a gifted program may work one to four levels ahead of their age level in particular subjects. They may also receive customized support for social-emotional needs.

A gifted program in Colorado, the Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning, shared with us about their impact and why they exist: 

“So many stories of truly unique and challenging needs for students have occurred that brought them to our school and its unique support. One of these students was referred to us by a local school district. This student was so young and needed math content three years above their grade level. Due to the student’s age and ADHD, the student was not one who could sit quietly and just work independently. We were able to do assessments to locate the gaps in previous instruction. We easily accelerated into one level for math and one level for literacy that was appropriate to the student’s needs. Additionally, we worked with the social/emotional needs of this student, and the family, so that these needs could be met. The student finally found true friends who could “get” what this student was talking about, was excited about. This was the first time this student found peers, and had teachers who understood the level of needs and had the flexibility to meet those needs in a multi-faceted approach. This is why we are here in our community: To meet needs for gifted education within a population of rare and challenging situations… and to support kids who need friends too.” 

Grade Point Average (GPA): A grade point average measures the average of all the final grades a student has received. One form of GPA uses a 0 to 4 point scale. On this scale, a student with straight A’s will have a 4.0 GPA; a student with a mixture of A’s and B’s will have a GPA between 3 and 4. 

Keep in mind that GPA can look very different between schools. Different schools and different schools districts will have varying standards for grading. Additionally, some schools award higher numbers (such as 4.5 or 5) for advanced classes. 

GPA is one factor used in class rank, academic awards, and college admissions

Graduation Rate: A graduation rate looks at how many (or what percentage of) students complete high school requirements. In 2019-2020, 87% of public high school students graduated on time. The National Center for Education Statistics breaks down that percentage by state and by race.

Great Books: Great Books” refers to the idea that certain classical texts (like Homer’s Iliad and Plato’s Republic, for instance) are still relevant today, and reading them is a way to encounter some of the best teachers who have ever lived. Schools with Great Books programs use these texts to help students encounter powerful ideas in philosophy, history, science, and more.

Growth Mentality: In education, a growth mindset refers to the idea that students and staff can change and improve their abilities through hard work and helpful teaching and tools. 

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Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA): The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is a federal law that ensures the confidentiality and security of an individual’s protected health information.

Highly Qualified Teachers: The federal definition of a highly qualified teacher is one who meets all of the following criteria: fully certified and/or licensed by the state; holds at least a bachelor degree from a four-year institution; and demonstrates competence in each core academic subject area in which he or she teaches.

Homeschooling: Homeschooling is the process of educating your children in the home. Each state has different rules and policies regarding homeschooling, but parents in every state have the right to teach their children in the home.

Homeschooling doubled during the pandemic: 11.1% of households with school-age children reported homeschooling in fall 2020. Today, the number of homeschoolers remains higher than pre-pandemic.

Hybrid Approach: In hybrid learning or blending learning, part of a student’s education takes place online (sometimes even from home) and some takes place face-to-face in a classroom or learning center. For example, Goal Academy in Ohio is an online school with drop-in centers where students can receive extra tutoring, support, or networking. As another example, a teacher that combines online homework with in-person class time is using a blended approach. 

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Immersion Program: A language immersion program is one in which students spend a large portion of their learning “immersed” in a foreign language. This approach gives students a wide opportunity to practice a language, often while learning general knowledge in various subjects. For example, a language immersion program may deliver 75% of instruction in Spanish. The amount of time immersed in a foreign language allows students ample time to practice and become more fluent.

Inclusion: Inclusion refers to a student with disabilities being given instruction and the opportunity to learn alongside their peers in the mainstream classroom. Inclusion models vary widely between districts and schools, but can include co-teaching and team-teaching.

Independent School: Private schools or independent schools are schools of choice that are managed by private or religious organizations. Private schools generate their own funding through tuition, private grants, and fundraising, and they set their own admission standards. There are more than 30,000 private schools across the U.S., serving more than 4.5 million students.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed to make sure that students with disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education that meets their needs. 

Individualized Education Program (IEP): An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legal roadmap for what individualized supports and services a child with disabilities will receive to help them learn and succeed in school. IEPs are free for eligible children in public schools. An IEP is reviewed annually to make changes in services and supports. An IEP is more involved and specialized than a 504 plan. 

Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team: The IEP is a team of individuals that includes, at a minimum, parents, a special education teacher, someone qualified to interpret test results, district representation, and a general education teacher.  These individuals are responsible for the development and review of a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), evaluation/re-evaluation, and behavior plans as needed.  They must meet at least once a year by law; however, teacher or parents can call meetings at any time. Some states call this team the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) team. 

Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP): This plan maps out early intervention services a child will receive (from birth to the child’s third birthday). The IFSP is written documentation of a child’s current functional levels, specific needs, goals of treatment, and the treatment plan.  Prior to transitioning to a public Pre-K program, a transition meeting is held to outline what a child’s services will look like in the public school setting.

Individualized Service Plan: An Individualized Service Plan is a plan for parentally-placed children that attend private/parochial schools or home schools (determined by state guidelines) who are eligible to receive special services from their resident district.

Initial Evaluation: An initial evaluation is a process to evaluate a child who is suspected of having a disability and who may be eligible for special education and related services.

Initial IEP: In special education, an initial IEP is the individualized education plan that is developed once a child has been determined to have a disability requiring special education and related services.

Interdistrict: Interdistrict refers to something that takes place between more than one district. An interdistrict transfer, for example, is a transfer from a school in one district to a school in another district

Intervention: An intervention is an instructional strategy or method of instruction used to increase student skills.  Interventions vary in duration, frequency, and intensity.

Intradistrict: Intradistrict refers to something that takes place within a district. An intradistrict transfer, for example, is a transfer from one school in a district to another in that same district.

Intrinsic Motivation: Intrinsic motivation refers to when your child is doing something because of the personal satisfaction they get from it, rather than an outside force. If your child is studying space out of personal curiosity and excitement, that is a prime example of intrinsic motivation.

International Baccalaureate (IB): International Baccalaureate (IB) is a particular education program, founded in the 1960s, that focuses on helping students become inquirers, communicators, risk-takers, and global leaders. Only authorized IB World Schools can offer this program. The IB offers four different education programs designed for students ages 3-19. 

As of 2024, the IB program is being used in more than 5,700 schools across 160 countries. In some cases, schools may continue to use their district curriculum while incorporating IB objectives and lessons. 

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Leader in Me: Leader in Me is a model that schools may use to build a culture of leadership among both staff and students. In a school using it, staff will set new goals for the school and model leadership to students. They will also encourage students to take on leadership roles. The Leader in Me is based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as well as other educational tools.

In Georgia, we spoke to Vineville Academy of the Arts, which uses the Leader in Me model. Principal Kristy Graham described the ripple effect the school has seen: 

“We piloted the Leader in Me program and the community supported it 100%. They funded it. They said: ‘We want to be a part of guiding children for the future to be leaders, to be proactive, to synergize and put first things first.’ They supported the first four schools and now our entire district is a Leader in Me district.”

Learning Pod:  In a microschool or learning pod, students gather together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Based its community needs, a pod may gather for just 10-20 hours a week or only certain days. 

Pods can take a variety of legal forms. Some pods are mini private schools, others are support groups for online schools, and some are simply homeschool co-ops. You can find full details on microschooling or learning pods in our 50-State Guide.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): Least restrictive environment (LRE) is a legal requirement under IDEA that a student with a disability should be given the opportunity to receive instruction with non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible. 

Levy: When it comes to education, a levy refers to the amount of property tax dollars a school district collects to operate or to develop its property. When a district needs money beyond that received from state and federal government, it may ask residents to vote on a new levy. 

Liberal arts: The liberal arts refers to learning methods that focus on gaining a broad education rather than specific career training. The liberal arts has its roots in medieval studies that included astronomy, music, geometry, grammar, and more. Each subject in the liberal arts helps the student develop in a specific way. Studying political philosophy, for instance, helps a student become a good citizen with an understanding of social justice. 

Local Educational Agency (LEA): Local educational agency (LEA) is a term that can refer to any school program conducted by a public school or agency.

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Magnet School / Magnet Program: Magnet schools are run by school districts or groups of school districts and do not charge tuition. Magnet schools teach all academic subjects to students, but these schools focus on specific themes like math, technology, or performing arts. Some magnet schools require students to take tests for entry, but most do not.

There are more than 4,300 magnet schools in the U.S. serving about 3.5 million students

Mentor: Someone who is invested in sharing knowledge, providing motivation, and role modeling to your child is a mentor. While a teacher may be a mentor, coaches, family friends, professional experts, or community leaders can also be mentors. 

Microschool: In a microschool or learning pod, students gather together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Based its community needs, a pod may gather for just 10-20 hours a week or only certain days. 

Pods can take a variety of legal forms. Some pods are mini private schools, others are support groups for online schools, and some are simply homeschool co-ops. You can find full details on microschooling or learning pods in our 50-State Guide.

Modifications: Modifications are changes to what is being taught or expected of a student.  Modifications change the rigor of an assignment or change what the teacher is assessing.

Montessori Education: Montessori is a student-led approach to learning with a strong focus on preparing the learning environment to be a nurturing place where children can choose their own “work.” Some of the hallmarks of Montessori education include: multi-age classrooms, learning equipment made of “real” materials such as wood and ceramic rather than plastic, and self-paced learning. Some of the goals of Montessori education include: helping a child develop a strong sense of self and capacity for choice, nurturing a child’s natural curiosity, and supporting a child in becoming a confident learner. 

Montessori education was founded in the early 1900s by Dr. Maria Montessori.

Multi-age Classroom: In a multi-age classroom, students of different ages learn together, supporting each other at whatever point they’re at on their educational journey. These classrooms typically span a few years. For instance, they may group children ages three to six together, or children ages nine to twelve. Multi-age grouping is a hallmark of Montessori education, but may also be found in other learning environments. 

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS): Multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) refers to a multi-tiered framework which promotes school improvement by using research-based academic and behavioral practices.

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National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is an assessment that measures what students across America know in various subjects, including math and reading. 

While state assessments often differ, NAEP allows you to compare student performance in your state with that in another state. Anyone can view the most recent NAEP results at The Nation’s Report Card. There, you can look up your state and find out what percentage of children read at grade level. You can also see how students in your state do in math compared to neighboring states, and much more. 

Not every child in America takes the NAEP test. Instead, a representative sample of kids take the NAEP tests in 4th, 8th, and 12th grade. 

Neighborhood School: A neighborhood school typically refers to the public school nearest you or assigned to you by your school district’s boundaries. A neighborhood school may be in walking distance; if not, you will normally be able to receive free transportation to it. 

Some families move to specific neighborhoods in order to be in proximity to great schools. Other times, families live in neighborhoods where the nearby school just isn’t a good fit. In these cases, families often use school choice to find a learning environment that better matches their needs.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB): The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, signed into law in 2002, scaled up assessment requirements for states and increased the federal government’s role in holding schools accountable. A main goal of NCLB was to close achievement gaps in K-12 education. In 2015, NCLB was replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

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Occupational Therapy (OT):  Occupational therapy is a service related to special education that focuses on a student’s fine motor skills. The goal of this therapy is to develop skills or adapt ways of living to accomplish daily activities. An occupational therapist is a trained individual who provides this therapy. 

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP): The Office of Special Education Programs is a division of the U.S. Department of Education focused entirely on special education.

Online Public School: Online public schools are usually run by state governments, school districts, or charter schools. Online public schools do not charge tuition, and students do not need to take tests for admission. At online public schools, students use computers at home to learn from teachers via the internet.

Well over 30 states have established permanent online schools that students can attend full-time for free. The majority of states also offer part-time online learning where public or private school students can take a course or two.

Permanent online schooling is very different from emergency remote or virtual learning. In fact, full-time online schools existed long-before COVID-19. Students enrolled in full-time online schooling will find qualified teachers specifically trained to deliver instruction using new technology. These schools often have flexible schedules so students are not sitting in front of computers for 8 hours a day. They combine flexible schedules with regular, one-on-one student-teacher communication and opportunities for students to collaborate with each other.

Open Enrollment: Open enrollment policies make it possible for parents to choose traditional public schools that are outside of their zone or district. The goal of open enrollment is for families to be able to choose the best public school for their child. The best fit may be in their zip code, or it may not be!

Each state has different laws regulating open enrollment. 

Open House: A school open house is a time for current or prospective families to visit a school and learn about what makes it unique. An open house may include a school tour, a presentation, or simply a time to visit and ask questions. Typically open houses take place in person. But, you can check for virtual open houses at schools near you as well. 

Outdoor School: An outdoor school (or forest school or wilderness education) focuses on developing learning and exploration through open air and natural settings. Outdoor schools are typically heavily focused on leadership, problem-solving, whole-child learning, and choice rather than on traditional instruction and assessment methods. 

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Parental Choice: Parental choice, also known as school choice, refers to parents having the right and responsibility to choose their child’s education. Parental choice recognizes that parents know their children best and are best equipped to choose an education in line with their child’s needs and family values. 

Parochial School: Parochial schools are private schools affiliated with a particular church or parish. Parochial schools usually include religious education as part of their curriculum.

Philosophy of Education: A philosophy of education is a summary of beliefs, values, and goals for learning. What philosophy of education a teacher has will influence what they do in the classroom, and what philosophy of education a parent has will influence their expectations for what their child learns. Would you like to better understand what methods your child’s educator is using in class? Don’t be afraid to ask them what their teaching philosophy is. 

Physical Therapy (PT): Physical therapy is instructional support and treatment of physical disabilities. The goal of this therapy is to help a student improve gross motor skills. A trained individual who provides this type of therapy is a physical therapist. 

Percentile Rank: In education, some standardized tests show your child’s percentile rank. This percentile rank is not a measure of how many questions your child answered correctly.  Instead, it shows how your child performed on the test compared to his or her peers. For example, what if your child scores in the 56th percentile? That would mean that your child’s score is better than 56 percent of students who took that same test. 

Per-pupil Spending: Per-pupil spending is found by dividing how much is spent during an academic year by how many students there are. The average per-pupil spending for public schools in America is more than $14,000.

Pluralism (Educational): Educational pluralism is a system in which various types of schools, both non-religious and religious, are funded and regulated by the government. While the United States’ education system is not one of educational pluralism, countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, and Canada are examples of educational pluralism. 

Present Levels of Performance: Present levels of performance refers to a component of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that states a student’s strengths and needs, current levels of academic achievement, and current levels of functional performance.

Principal: A principal’s job is to oversee the big picture operations of a school, as well as what happens day-to-day. Principals are not only the teachers’ boss, they also shape the school’s curriculum and culture, opportunities for staff development, and set the tone for parent communication. 

Prior Written Notice: Prior written notice is notice that is required to be given to parents when a school proposes to make changes to a student with disabilities’ Individualized Education Program (IEP), identification of a disability, formal evaluations, or the educational placement of a student.

Private school: Private schools or independent schools are run by organizations or religious entities, and they charge tuition. There are many different categories of private schools. Some, but not all, private schools require students to take tests for acceptance to attend. Many states now offer state-sponsored scholarship programs to help cover tuition costs. Additionally, there are often scholarships offered by individual schools and local scholarship organizations.

There are more than 30,000 private schools across the U.S., serving more than 4.5 million students.

Procedural Safeguards: Procedural safeguards are explanations of the specific rights and responsibilities the family has in the special education process.

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an assessment measuring the math, reading, and science skills of 15-year-olds around the world. Since it’s an international test, PISA provides a snapshot of how various countries are performing. This can be helpful for understanding the impact of different education policies.

Project-based Learning: Project-based learning is an approach to education that focuses on students learning new knowledge and skills by doing in-depth, guided projects. These  projects aren’t simply proof of something the students have learned. Project-based learning aims for students to actually learn through completing the project. 

Examples of project-based learning include: Finding how to catch rainwater, building a tiny home, or developing a local recycling plan. For more information, check out these resources and recent stories: 

Psychologist: A psychologist is an individual with an advanced degree who, for the purposes of special education, specializes in administering and evaluating psychological assessments. These assessments can include intelligence, aptitude, and interest tests.  

Public School (Traditional*): Traditional public schools are run by school districts and do not charge tuition. In most cases, students do not need to take tests for acceptance into traditional public schools. Some states allow parents to choose any traditional public school in their district. Other states allow parents to send their children to traditional public schools in other districts, too.

If you are unsure which public school district you are in, you can search for your school district

*We are specifying traditional public schools because there are many other forms of public schools. Public schools are any schools available to the public and free to attend, including charter, magnet, and some online schools.

Q

R

Reevaluation: In special education, a reevaluation is an assessment that occurs at a minimum of every three years (it can occur more frequently if needed) to determine if a student continues to be eligible for special education services.

Referral: A referral, in relation to special education, is the official request to begin a formal process of determining if a student is eligible to receive special education and related services. After a referral, the student’s parent or legal guardian must give consent before evaluations take place.

Related Services: Related services are services that a school is required to provide under IDEA (other than medical care) that a student needs in order to benefit from their special education program. Related services include speech-language pathology, audiology, psychological, physical therapy, occupational therapy, recreation, counseling, mobility services, and social work services.

S

Scaffolding: In education, scaffolding refers to an instructional technique that helps students progressively build on knowledge. In scaffolding, a teacher may break up a new learning goal or complex concept into small chunks so that students can learn it piece by piece, gradually adding onto what they already know. Mini-lessons, visual aids, providing options, and modeling a concept can be used as supports in scaffolding that reinforce the new concept. 

For more information, check out these resources and recent stories: 

Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO): Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) are non-profit organizations that manage contributions from donors or grants for educational scholarships. In several states, individuals or businesses can receive a tax credit for their donation to an SGO. SGOs use the donations to distribute scholarships to families so they can attend a school of their choice. 

Does your state has a tax-credit scholarship program? If so, you can look for a list of approved SGOs on your state’s Department of Education website.

Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT): The Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT is one of the most commonly used assessment tests measuring a high school student’s readiness for college. Many colleges and universities consider ACT or SAT scores in their admissions decision. The SAT assesses students in the areas of math and evidence-based reading and writing and is usually taken by students their junior or senior year of high school. 

School Board: A board of education (or school board) consists of community members who are either elected or appointed to represent and make decisions about their public school district. Rather than politicians, board of education members are usually simply community leaders, parents, or retired school leaders or education professionals interested in making a difference. 

Each district in the U.S.  has a board of education. Each one consists of about three to nine members who regularly come together for meetings to discuss educational needs in their district. 

Board members are leaders tasked with making important decisions affecting you and your child. For example, the board may be responsible for hiring or firing the superintendent. They may be in charge of approving contracts, setting a budget, setting a school calendar, or expanding or closing schools. 

Board of education meetings are usually open to the public. You can search for your district’s board of education online to find out who the members are. You can also find out when they meet and what their upcoming agenda is. In many cases, board meetings include an opportunity for parents to speak up, ask questions, or provide feedback. 

School choice: School choice is the process of allowing every family to choose the K-12 educational options that best fit their children. What works well for one child may not work well for another child. Access to different choices ensures that each family can find an education that inspires their child and helps them succeed.

K-12 school choices include traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and microschooling.

School safety: School safety refers to freedom from violence, theft, bullying, and crime at school and during school-related activities. Whether your child feels safe and comfortable can be an important factor in choosing a learning environment. 

The National Center for Education Statistics collects and reports data on crime and safety in U.S. schools. 

Secretary of Education: The Secretary of Education leads the Department of Education and serves as an advisor to the President about federal education programs and activities. The Secretary of Education is also an important public spokesperson and advocate for education. 

Dr. Miguel Cardona is the 12th and current Secretary of Education. 

Self-Advocacy: Self-advocacy is a skill set that allows a student to take charge of their education, articulate their needs, and make informed decisions to meet those needs.

Self-Directed Learning: Self-directed learning refers to an education style where students are given the freedom to choose their own activities and experiences during the school day. Self-directed learning is usually much more informal than traditional education. In a self-directed learning environment, classes may be optional or not offered at all. Instead, students may learn through choosing to read books, bake, practice videography skills, explore nature, or any number of activities.

Socratic Method: The Socratic method refers to a teaching method in which a teacher guides students to reason more clearly by asking them a series of questions. Done well, the Socratic method helps students realize their assumptions. It can help them learn to base their thoughts and arguments on strong, clear reasoning patterns. The Socratic method is even used in many law schools.

Social-emotional Learning (SEL): Beyond teaching the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, social-emotional learning (SEL) focuses on equipping students with emotional and interpersonal skills. SEL is defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning as the development of “knowledge, skills and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”

Special Education: Special education is a term used by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to refer to specially designed instruction to increase a student’s chances for success. Special education typically involves the development of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) to ensure students’ learning needs are being accommodated. Learn more about the special education process in the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

Specially-Designed Instruction (SDI): Specially-designed instruction is instruction that has been adapted in content or delivery method to address specific learning needs of a student with a disability.  What SDI looks like for a student is defined by their Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team and is intended to supplement the instruction that occurs in the general education setting.

Speech Therapy: Speech therapy is the process for remediating speech deficits such as stuttering, lisping, and misarticulation.  This therapy can be provided in an individualized or small group setting.

Standardized Testing: Standardized tests ask students in the same grade level across a state or country to answer the same questions under the same time limit and conditions. States may have their own standardized tests and requirements for who must take them. Some of the most common standardized tests for high schoolers include the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), American College Test (ACT), and the Classic Learning Test (CLT).

State Educational Agency (SEA): A State Educational Agency refers to who is in charge of supervising public schools in a state. For example, in Iowa this is the Iowa Department of Education. In Illinois, the State Educational Agency is the Illinois State Board of Education.  

STEM Education: STEM education is learning focused on innovation and active learning through the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEAM schools add art as an additional focus, while STEM/CS schools include computer science as a fifth focus. STEM education often takes a hands-on approach. Also, it often focuses on subjects’ connections to each other, such as connections between science and technology.

For more information, check out these resources and recent stories: 

Student Assistance Team/Student Support Team: This team of professionals and parents meet to discuss any problems a student is having in their general education classroom.  The team’s goal is to identify ways to assist the child to help them master skills they’re having difficulty with.

Superintendent: In education, a superintendent oversees the public schools in a district and is essentially the boss of the school principals. As the chief executive in the district, the superintendent is responsible for the overall vision of the district. 

The superintendent works with leaders in each school to make sure the district is meeting its goals and serving students. A superintendent provides input to and is accountable to the local board of education. 

Synchronous Learning: In synchronous learning, a student goes through learning material with the teacher in real time, with the possibility for live discussion. Meanwhile, in asynchronous learning, a student works independently on a learning project the teacher has assigned.

T

Tax-credits and deductions (for K-12 education): Some states allow parents to receive either a credit or deduction on their state income tax bill for approved education expenses. Depending on the state, approved expenses may include some or all private school tuition or homeschooling expenses, computers, books, or even transportation. In some cases, tax credits are provided to families at the start of the school year, so that they do not have to foot their student’s full education bill and wait for reimbursement.

States with tax credit or deduction programs for individual families include: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. While many of these tax credit and deduction programs are relatively small in the amount they offer, Oklahoma’s new program offers a refundable tax credit of up to $7,500 per child to cover the cost of private school!

Tax-credit Scholarship: Some states allow individuals and businesses to donate to non-profit organizations that provide school scholarships. In return for their donation, the individual or business receives a tax credit. The non-profit uses the donations to distribute “tax-credit scholarships” to families so they can attend a school of their choice.

States with tax-credit scholarships include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Virginia. Nebraska is also in the process of establishing a tax-credit scholarship.

Teacher Certification: For the most part, all or most teachers in public schools must be certified or licensed by the state to teach. 

Each state has its own teacher certification or licensure policies. Often, colleges or universities run these teaching certification programs. Most states also have alternative certification programs run by non-profit organizations or other entities. 

Meanwhile, private schools generally set their own rules for hiring teachers. Some schools participate in certification or licensure programs. Sometimes, private organizations (rather than the government) run these programs.

Title I: Title I is a federal program that provides extra funding to schools with high percentages of low-income children. Schools can use Title I funding for curriculum, instructional activities, counseling, parental involvement, or an increase in staff. Parental involvement is an important factor in Title I funding. A school receiving Title I funding must implement programs and activities that promote parent involvement.

Title II: Title II is a federal law aimed at supporting the development of teachers and school leaders, particularly those who teach low-income or minority students. Through Title II, schools can receive federal funds to use for teacher training, so that students receive more effective classroom instruction.

Title IX: Title IX is a civil rights law with the goal of protecting students from discrimination based on sex. Any K-12 school that receives federal funding must follow regulations set out in Title IX to prevent such discrimination. That’s true whether the school is public or private.

Transition Plan: A transition plan is specific to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) – once a student turns 16 it must have goals and a plan addressing how he or she will transition to life outside of high school.

Transition Meeting: In special education, a transition meeting is a meeting of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or ARD team prior to a student changing programs or schools.

Transportation: School transportation rules vary widely by state. Most states require traditional public schools to provide free transportation to and from school. Whether you can receive help transporting your child to a charter or private school will depend on where you live.

Triennial Review: A triennial review is an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting that occurs every three years during which the IEP or ARD team meets to discuss a student’s continued eligibility for special education services. 

Tuition: All public schools (traditional public schools, public charter schools, and public magnet schools) are tuition-free, funded by taxpayer dollars. The average per-pupil spending in American public schools is more than $14,000

Online schools may be public and tuition-free, or they may be private and charge tuition. 

Private schools charge tuition to cover expenses, though state-run or privately-run scholarships may be available. Private school tuition may vary widely– from a few thousand dollars a year to more than $15,000 a year. 

U

Universal Screening Tool: A universal screening tool is an assessment used to identify or predict students who may be at-risk for not meeting benchmarks or who need additional supports in the classroom. These assessments are generally brief and done in a large group setting.

University Model Education: A university model education blends aspects of homeschooling, public schooling, and private schooling. It mirrors the rhythm of college classes; students often come to class on campus two or three days a week. On other days, they work from home with parental supervision.

A university model school is typically characterized by an emphasis on parent partnership, intentional learning, and self-discipline. Because students at university model schools typically do not attend school on campus five days a week, these schools are often able to keep costs low for families. 

Unschooling: Unschooling is a type of homeschooling that focuses on nurturing a child’s innate curiosity and interests, rather than focusing on a particular curriculum. Hallmarks of unschooling include self-directed learning, resource-rich environments, and learning through conversation, experience, and play.

V

Vocational school: In a vocational program or school, students study all traditional subjects, but with a particular focus on learning a trade and preparing to join the workforce. For example, students in vocational schools may study plumbing, carpentry, culinary arts, or other subjects.

Voucher: Families eligible for vouchers can use all or or some of the public funding available for their child’s education to attend a private school of their choice. 

States with voucher programs include Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C. 

W

Waldorf: Waldorf education is one philosophy and method of education. It seeks to develop each child’s unique potential by focusing on the arts and learning through experiencing creativity and wonder. Some of the goals of Waldorf education include: exposing children to a wide range of experiences, including music and art, and developing confident, well-rounded, creative individuals.

Waldorf education is based on the principles of Austrian thinker Rudolf Steiner. 

Weighted Grades: A weighted grade is the average of a group of grades, each of which group makes up a different percentage of the final grade. For example, maybe homework makes up 25% of your child’s grade and the final exam makes up 75% of it. The final exam carries more weight– it’s worth more in your student’s final grade. Here, your child’s class grade will depend more on their final exam score than how they do on homework. 

Whole Child Education: Whole child education places a priority not just on academics, but on all aspects of the child’s development, including social-emotional learning, physical health, and mental health. 

Wraparound Services: In education, wraparound services refer to when a school seeks to provide support to students that “wrap around” into all areas of life. For instance, wraparound services may look like providing vision screening or food support for students. Or, it may extend to providing health or housing help to a student’s family.

X

Y

Year-round School: Like it sounds, year-round schooling refers to there being no summer break. Instead, year-round schools typically take shorter breaks through the year.

Z

Zone (Attendance Zone): In many areas, where a family lives determines what public school they are automatically assigned or zoned to. Today, there are increasing opportunities to choose a school other than your zoned school, whether through open enrollment or by attending a public charter school or another type of school.

Imagine enviar a sus hijos a una escuela que parece hecha a la medida de su entusiasmo por la música o la ciencia. Imagine encontrar una escuela para sus hijos que despierte su curiosidad por la medicina o el arte. Imagine una escuela centrada en un gran tema, un tema que se utiliza como “gancho” para alentar la enseñanza a los estudiantes sobre cada tema.

Existen más de 4.000 de estas escuelas únicas en todos los Estados Unidos ¿Y adivine qué? No son escuelas privadas de élite. Son escuelas públicas de enseñanza gratuita. ¡Son escuelas magnet públicas!

Las escuelas magnet son escuelas públicas gratuitas que se centran en temas particulares, como las artes escénicas o la ciencia médica. Si le interesa aprender más, esta guía es para usted. Haga clic en los siguientes botones para encontrar una definición de escuela magnet, respuestas a sus preguntas sobre las escuelas magnet, un enlace a los recursos de su estado y mucho más.

[bctt tweet=”Escuelas magnet ¿Ha oído hablar de ellas? @SchoolChoiceWk creó esta guía para difundir información sobre estas escuelas públicas gratuitas que a menudo pasan desapercibida” url = “https://schoolchoiceweek.com/escuelas-publicas-magnet/” via = “no”]

 

¿Te gusta lo que ves? ¡Ingrese su correo electrónico para obtener más recursos educativos gratuitos!

¿Es esta la primera vez que navega por el sistema educativo en los Estados Unidos? Si es así, es esencial saber que la educación K-12 es obligatoria, gratuita y abierta a todos los niños de este país, independientemente de los ingresos familiares, el estado migratorio o la religión.

Cada familia tiene una escuela pública local asignada a la que es gratis asistir, pero en la mayoría de los lugares usted puede elegir entre otras escuelas públicas gratuitas como escuelas chárter, escuelas magnet o escuelas en línea; o seleccionar una escuela privada o educación en el hogar. Encuentre más información sobre la estructura del sistema educativo aquí y algunas preguntas frecuentes para padres migrantes de primera generación que buscan opciones de elección de escuela aquí.

 

Preguntas Frecuentes Acerca de la Escuela Magnet

¿Qué es una escuela magnet?

 

Las escuelas magnet son escuelas públicas gratuitas operadas por distritos escolares que permiten a los niños centrarse en un tema de aprendizaje específico, como el STEM, la ciencia médica o las artes escénicas. En una escuela magnet, todas las materias se enseñan a través de los lentes del tema específico de la escuela. En una escuela magnet centrada en las artes, por ejemplo, los estudiantes aprenderán todas las clases requeridas (matemáticas, inglés, etc.). Pero esas clases obligatorias pueden incluir proyectos o debates relacionados con las artes, y los estudiantes también tomarán una variedad de clases de arte. Cuando los profesores y los estudiantes comparten una pasión común por una asignatura, se puede crear una vibrante comunidad de aprendizaje.

Encontrar una definición de escuela magnet puede ser confuso. Por ejemplo, algunas escuelas públicas tradicionales tienen programas magnet por los que un subconjunto de estudiantes opta. Aunque esas escuelas no son escuelas magnet en el sentido más completo, sus programas magnet pueden ofrecer el beneficio de enfocarse en un tema en particular.

Muchos de nosotros vamos a la universidad y no sabemos realmente lo que queremos hacer; podemos cambiar nuestra especialidad dos o tres veces. A veces tener la opción de elegir en la escuela secundaria, incluso en la primaria, aclara eso para los estudiantes. O, simplemente los expone a otra área que de otra manera no verían en una escuela tradicional. – Agnes Perry, Escuela Secundaria DeBakey para Profesiones de la Salud

estudiantes celebran la elección de la escuela

 

¿Quién puede asister a una escuela magnet? ¿Cómo se entra?

Los estudiantes rara vez, si es que alguna vez, son asignados automáticamente a una escuela magnet.  Padres de familia pueden elegir solicitar una escuela magnet y, si son aceptados, asistir a ella en lugar de su escuela de zona o la escuela más cercana.

A veces, las escuelas magnet son tan populares que dependen de loterías aleatorias para determinar admisión. Si este es el caso de la escuela magnet en la que está interesado, puede presentar una solicitud a la escuela antes de la fecha límite. Entonces, se le notificará si hay espacio y su hijo ha sido aceptado. Tenga en mente que las familias con hermanos que ya asisten a la escuela pueden ser priorizadas.

Además, algunas escuelas magnet pueden tener requisitos de elegibilidad. Por ejemplo, una escuela magnet con un enfoque musical puede requerir que los estudiantes hagan una audición. Los pasos serán claramente definidos por cada escuela o programa magnet individual.

 

¿Cuándo se puede aplicar para una escuela magnet?

Los distritos tienen diferentes fechas límite para las solicitudes de las escuelas magnet, así que recomendamos que lo comprueben con su distrito local. Pero, en nuestra experiencia, la ventana de aplicación de las escuelas magnet puede ocurrir sorprendentemente pronto, especialmente en lugares donde las escuelas magnet son populares. A menudo, la ventana de solicitud para el próximo año escolar comienza tan pronto como en noviembre.

 

¿Cuánto cuesta una escuela magnet?

Es importante destacar que las escuelas magnet son escuelas públicas y, por lo tanto, cualquier estudiante puede asistir gratuitamente. Como todas las escuelas públicas, las escuelas magnet son financiadas por los contribuyentes. Dado que las escuelas magnet son escuelas públicas, el transporte suele ser gratuito y también se proporciona. Puede explorar el gasto por alumno para las escuelas públicas, incluidas las escuelas magnet, en Project Nickel.

 

¿Por qué escoger una escuela magnet?

Las escuelas magnet públicas ofrecen una oportunidad emocionante para que los niños aprendan en un lugar donde están inmersos en un tema que les encanta. Por ejemplo, el Dr. Michael Lofton, fundador de una escuela magnet en South Carolina nos dijo, “Los estudiantes realmente tienden a profundizar un poco más en el estudio si lo disfrutan más y es algo con lo que quieren relacionarse”.

Cómo elegir una escuela magnet

Animamos a los padres a seguir los siete pasos descritos en The School Choice Roadmap (Ruta para la Elección de la Escuela) para todos los asuntos de búsqueda de escuelas. Este proceso exhaustivo y comprensible está diseñado para ayudar a todas las familias a identificar los entornos de aprendizaje que satisfagan las necesidades de sus hijos. Estos pasos incluyen:

1. Explore sus opciones de escuelas magnet:

¿Hay una escuela magnet cerca de usted? El primer paso que querrá dar para averiguarlo es investigar sus opciones. Puede empezar utilizando nuestra herramienta para encontrar escuelas cerca de usted, también puede revisar nuestra lista estatal de recursos de escuelas magnet a continuación. Además le sugerimos que busque en Google su distrito escolar y las “escuelas magnet” o “magnet schools” para obtener la información mas reciente sobre su localidad. Y, dado que las escuelas magnet se centran en un tema en particular, deberá considerar cuidadosamente cuáles son los intereses y aptitudes de su hijo.

 

2. Contacte la(s) escuela(s) que le interesan:

Si hay una escuela magnet que le interese, busque más información. Quizás también quiera hacer una visita a la escuela. Si decide visitar la escuela, aquí hay algunas preguntas que puede hacer: ¿Cuándo puede aplicar? (Las escuelas magnet suelen tener una fecha límite específica para las solicitudes). ¿Hay algún requisito de entrada? (Alrededor del 75% de las escuelas magnet no tienen requisitos de ingreso. Pero, otras sí tienen audiciones o requisitos especiales). ¿Cuál es su enfoque de la educación? ¿Hay una lotería para decidir qué estudiantes son aceptados? ¿Proporcionan transporte? (La mayoría de las escuelas magnet, pero no todas, proporcionan transporte).

 

3. Aplique:

Una vez que sus preguntas hayan sido contestadas, puede seguir adelante con la solicitud. Después de completar una solicitud, normalmente se le notifica de su estado por correo electrónico o correo postal.

Si su estudiante es seleccionado, es posible que tenga que “aceptar” oficialmente su lugar en un plazo determinado. La escuela te proporcionará información sobre lo que necesitan antes de que te unas a la escuela.

Su estudiante puede recibir un estatus de “piscina alternativa”, “lista de espera” o “waitlist”. Esto significa que su hijo puede recibir un asiento si se abre uno en las próximas semanas.

Si la escuela magnet no tiene un lugar para su hijo este año, es posible que tenga que elegir otra escuela. Sabemos que esto puede ser decepcionante. Pero ¡No se desanime! Puede intentarlo de nuevo el próximo año si todavía está interesado.

 

4. Empiece:

Si su hijo es aceptado en la escuela magnet, puede dejarle saber a su escuela anterior que será transferido. También puede preguntarles si hay algo que necesite hacer por su parte. Como padre/tutor legal, puede pedir a la escuela anterior una copia del expediente académico de su hijo. Si su estudiante tiene algún servicio adicional, como un plan de intervención, un plan de educación individualizado, un plan 504 o un plan de respuesta médica, ¡asegúrense de que también se envíe una copia de esta información a la nueva escuela!

 

Maestros-en-Georgia-posan-con-bufandas-de-elección-de-escuela

 

Opciones de escuelas magnet en su estado

Hay más de 4.300 escuelas magnet en todo el país que atienden a 3,5 millones de niños. Además, hay miles de programas “magnet” dentro de las escuelas públicas tradicionales en todo el país. Las escuelas magnet, las escuelas temáticas o los programas magnet están permitidos en cada uno de los 50 estados y en el Distrito de Columbia. En algunos estados, como se indica en el mapa de abajo, no hay escuelas magnet independientes, pero hay programas magnet disponibles en las escuelas públicas tradicionales.

¿Tiene su estado escuelas magnet? Consulte la guía para padres de su estado o desplácese hacia abajo para saber si su estado tiene escuelas magnet. Aunque hemos preparado un lugar para que empiece, también le sugerimos que compruebe su distrito local para ver las opciones de escuelas magnet.

[custom_us_map type=”color” sector=”magnet”]

Fuente: Magnet Schools of America, 2019

Alabama:

Alabama tiene más de treinta escuelas magnet. Por ejemplo, el Distrito Escolar Público del Condado de Mobile (el distrito escolar más grande de Alabama) ofrece una lista de sus ocho escuelas magnet aquí. El distrito explica, “Nuestras escuelas selectas encarnan la creencia de que los estudiantes altamente motivados y enfocados académicamente tienen intereses y talentos que se cultivan mejor en un programa escolar magnet. Nuestras escuelas magnet han enfocado los temas y alineado los planes de estudio en Ciencia, Tecnología, Ingeniería y Matemáticas (STEM), Bellas Artes y Artes Escénicas, y Bachillerato Internacional”. En el condado de Mobile, los estudiantes son aceptados en las escuelas magnet basadas en un sistema de lotería, y deben cumplir con los criterios de ingreso. Otros distritos de Alabama con escuelas ” magnet ” son Huntsville, Montgomery y Decatur.

Lea más: El ranking de escuelas secundarias ” magnet ” de tu estado, según U.S. News & World Report (**esta lista puede no incluir todas las opciones magnet de tu estado)

 

Alaska:

Alaska tiene un puñado de escuelas magnet diseminadas por todo el estado. La escuela magnet Barnette, ubicada en el distrito de Fairbanks North Star Borough, describe su oferta de aprendizaje de esta manera: “El “imán de Barnette o ‘draw’ es una combinación de: pequeñas clases de exploración, un programa comunitario Friday in Fairbanks, y noches de exhibición trimestrales para todas las escuelas. Estos son los elementos de la escuela que la diferencian de otras escuelas y hacen que la experiencia de la escuela magnet sea gratificante tanto para los estudiantes como para los padres”.

Lea más: El ranking de escuelas secundarias ” magnet ” de tu estado, según U.S. News & World Report  (**esta lista puede no incluir todas las opciones ” magnet ” de tu estado).

 

Arizona:

Hay muchas opciones de escuelas magnet en Arizona. Por ejemplo, el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Tucson en Arizona tiene actualmente doce escuelas “magnet”. Estas incluyen escuelas que se enfocan en artes de la comunicación, lenguaje dual, STEM, Montessori, y estudio para estudiantes sobresalientes.  

 

Arkansas:

Arkansas tiene varias escuelas magnet diseminadas por todo el estado. Los distritos con escuelas magnet incluyen Hot Springs, Marion, y el Texarkana Arkansas School District No.7. Encuentre información sobre distritos en Arkansas central aquí.

 

California:

Dependiendo de donde viva en California, podrá elegir una escuela magnet. Para el año escolar 2021, hay más de 500 escuelas magnet en California. Los distritos con escuelas ” magnet ” incluyen el ABC Unified School DistrictGlendale Unified School DistrictLos Angeles Unified School District  más información sobre este distrito aqui, el Napa Valley Unified School DistrictPasadena Unified School DistrictSan Diego Unified School District  más  informacion sobre este distrito aqui, y  Vista Unified School District. Una nueva escuela magnet asesorada por George Clooney y otras personas influyentes de Hollywood se está preparando para abrir en el centro de Los Ángeles en 2022. La escuela preparará a los estudiantes para trabajos en la industria del entretenimiento.

 

Colorado:

Colorado tiene más de 20 escuelas magnet en todo el estado. Los distritos con escuelas “magnet” incluyen Denver Public SchoolsMapleton Public Schools, y Douglas County School District.

Recientemente entrevistamos a una escuela magnet de Colorado, la New Emerson School en Columbus, de la que pueden leer aquí.

 

Connecticut:

Connecticut tiene más de 80 escuelas magnet de las que las familias pueden elegir. Para una lista completa de las escuelas magnet del área de Greater Hartford. Para una lista completa de escuelas “magnet” fuera del área de Greater Hartford, haga clic aquí. También puede encontrar preguntas frecuentes sobre las escuelas “magnet” de Connecticut aquí.

 

Delaware:

Delaware tiene unas cuantas escuelas magnet diseminadas por todo el estado; esta podría ser una gran opción si hay una cerca de usted y su hijo aprende mejor enfocándose en un tema que le apasiona. La Cab Calloway School of the Arts  en el Distrito Escolar Consolidado de Red Clay, por ejemplo, permite a los estudiantes especializarse en danza, medios digitales, música vocal, artes escénicas y más. Conrad Schools of Science, también en el Distrito Escolar Consolidado de Red Clay, ofrece un magnet de ciencias de la vida. En el distrito escolar de Indian River, la Escuela de Artes del Sur de Delaware trata de facilitar el aprendizaje de los estudiantes a través de las artes.

Delaware CAN es una organizacion local que le podría proporcionar más info sobre estas escuelas. 

 

Florida:

Florida tiene más de 500 escuelas magnet en todo el estado. Para saber si su distrito tiene programas magnet, use la opción de búsqueda de escuelas en el sitio web del Departamento de Educación de Florida. Simplemente seleccione su distrito y haga clic en “Go”. Si hay escuelas o programas magnet en su distrito, la herramienta los mostrará y listará su enfoque (ciencia, artes escénicas, medicina, tecnología, etc.) Encuentre información especifica de Miami aquí.

 

Georgia:

Georgia tiene más de diez escuelas maget diseminadas por todo el estado. Los distritos con escuelas magnet incluyen Bibb County School DistrictRichmond County School System, y Muscogee County School District. Además, las escuelas públicas del condado de Clayton ofrecen varios programas “magnet”.

 

Hawaii:

Desafortunadamente, no hay escuelas magnet públicas independientes que funcionen actualmente en Hawaii. Puede que haya programas magnet en las escuelas públicas tradicionales, y la ley permite escuelas magnet independientes, ¡así que manténgase en sintonía para el futuro! Aunque técnicamente no son programas magnet, Hawái ofrece programas complementarios para estudiantes superdotados y talentosos.

 

Idaho:

Idaho tiene más de 20 escuelas magnet o escuelas con programas magnet.  Puede ver una lista de estas escuelas en el sitio web del Departamento de Educación de Idaho. Las ubicaciones de los programas magnet de Idaho incluyen Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Hailey, Idaho Falls, Nampa, Ammon y Coeur d’Alene.

Además, a través del programa de Oportunidades Avanzadas del estado, a cada estudiante de escuela pública en Idaho se le asigna $ 4,125 para usar en los grados 7-12. Estos fondos se pueden utilizar para créditos duales, tarifas de exámenes de ubicación avanzada, certificaciones profesionales, capacitación de la fuerza laboral u otros gastos calificados.

 

Illinois: 

Hay más de 100 escuelas magnet en Illinois. Muchas de ellas se concentran en el Distrito de las Escuelas Públicas de Chicago; puede buscar estos tipos de escuelas, utilizando la herramienta de búsqueda de las Escuelas Públicas de Chicago y filtrando por escuelas magnet aquí. Otros distritos, como el Champaign Unit School District 4, Elgin Area Schools U-46, Rockford Public Schools y Decatur Public Schools, también tienen escuelas magnet.

 

Indiana:

Indiana tiene varias escuelas magnet que las familias pueden considerar. En el distrito de las escuelas públicas de Indianápolis, por ejemplo, hay 17 escuelas magnet elementales e intermedias. Mientras tanto, la Corporación Escolar de la Comunidad de South Bend tiene más de 20 escuelas o programas magnet  

 

Iowa:

Iowa tiene varias escuelas magnet diseminadas por todo el estado. En el Distrito Escolar de the Cedar Rapids Community School District, por ejemplo, hay cinco escuelas magnet, incluida Johnson STEAM Academy, que ha sido clasificada como una de las mejores escuelas magnet de los Estados Unidos.

 

Kansas:

Las escuelas magnet permiten a los niños centrarse en temas específicos, como la ciencia o las artes escénicas. Como describe el distrito de escuelas públicas de Wichita, “Las escuelas magnet se basan en la premisa de que no todos los estudiantes aprenden de la misma manera, así que si hay un tema unificador o una estructura organizativa diferente para los estudiantes de interés similar, esos estudiantes aprenderán más en todas las áreas”. En el distrito de Wichita, hay 17 escuelas primarias “magnet” y siete escuelas intermedias, secundarias y K-8 “magnet”, y hay otras en todo el estado, como en Hutchinson, Kansas City y Topeka.

 

Kentucky:

Kentucky tiene una variedad de escuelas y programas magnet diseminados por todo el estado, incluyendo varios en Fayette County Public Schools y Jefferson County Public Schools. Las Escuelas Públicas del Condado de Fayette, por ejemplo, describen cómo tienen escuelas magnet con estos enfoques: “Ciencias biomédicas (Frederick Douglass High School), Programa de Diploma de Bachillerato Internacional (Tates Creek High School), programas tradicionales (LTMS), educación prescrita individualmente (Dixie ), Inmersión en español (Maxwell y Bryan Station escuela intermedia y escuela secundaria); ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería, artes y matemáticas (STEAM Academy y Rise STEM Academy for Girls); y plan de estudios enseñado a través de la lente de la historia y la cultura afroamericanas (academias Carter G. Woodson)”.

 

Louisiana:

Louisiana tiene varias escuelas magnet en todo el estado. Algunos distritos de Luisiana con escuelas magnet incluyen las escuelas Caddo Parish Public Schools, Calcasieu Parish Public Schools, East Baton Rouge Parish, Iberville Parish Schools, Tangipahoa Parish School District. El East Baton Rouge Parish School System, por ejemplo, tiene escuelas magnet que permiten a los estudiantes enfocarse en medicina, artes visuales y escénicas, ciencias de la salud, negocios y asuntos gubernamentales o ingeniería.

 

Maine:

Actualmente hay dos escuelas magnet en Maine. La Maine School of Science and Mathematics se centra en STEM y está situada en Limestone, Maine. El estado también tiene una escuela magnet pública orientada al estudio de la ciencia marina, la tecnología, el transporte y la ingeniería: The Maine Ocean School.

Si vive cerca de una de las escuelas magnet de Maine, es posible que su hijo pueda asistir a la escuela magnet pública en lugar de a la escuela pública de su vecindario.

 

Maryland:

Maryland tiene varias escuelas magnet en todo el estado; por ejemplo, hay más de 30 escuelas o programas magnet en el área del condado de Baltimore. Algunos de los otros distritos con escuelas “magnet” incluyen Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Washington County Public Schools y Prince George’s County Public Schools.

 

Massachusetts:

Massachusetts tiene sólo un puñado de escuelas magnet, como por ejemplo,  Worcester Arts Magnet School and Tatnuck Magnet School. Pero, puede contactar con su distrito escolar para ver si hay alguna opción cerca de usted.

 

Michigan:

Michigan tiene varias escuelas magnet en todo el estado. The International Academy of Macomb, por ejemplo, es una escuela magnet del International Baccalaureate que abarca todo el condado y que cada año ofrece a sus estudiantes la oportunidad de viajar por todo el mundo. El Lansing School District ofrece más de 10 escuelas o programas magnet. Otros distritos con ofertas del programa magnet incluyen las escuelas Michigan City Area Schools, Detroit Public Schools, Ann Arbor Public Schools y más.

 

Minnesota:

Minnesota tiene más de 75 escuelas magnet en todo el estado. Por ejemplo, algunos de los distritos con escuelas o programas magnet incluyen Anoka-Hennepin School District #11, Brooklyn Center Community Schools, Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools, District 196: Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Independent School District 197, Minneapolis Public Schools, Northwest Suburban Integration District, y Osseo Area Schools ISD 279.

 

Mississippi:

Mississippi tiene varias escuelas magnet para que las familias consideren. Algunos de los distritos con escuelas o programas magnet incluyen el Cleveland School District y Jackson Public Schools. 

 

Missouri:

Missouri tiene varias escuelas magnet en todo el estado. Para más informacion, puede visitar una muestra de las escuelas primarias magnet disponibles en el distrito escolar público de St. Louis, Kansas City Public Schools también tienen escuelas magnet.

 

Montana:

Las escuela magnet están permitidas en Montana, aunque actualmente no tenemos conocimiento de ninguna escuela magnet activa.

 

Nebraska:

Nebraska tiene un puñado de escuelas magnet diseminadas por todo el estado. Por ejemplo, Omaha Public Schools tienen programas magnet tanto para la escuela primaria como para la secundaria. 

 

Nevada:

Hace unos años, un artículo del Las Vegas Sun describió las escuelas magnet como “escuelas dentro de escuelas”. En otras palabras, ofrecen caminos especializados dentro del sistema escolar público. Nevada tiene varias escuelas “magnet” en todo el estado; por ejemplo, hay más de 30 escuelas o programas “magnet” en el Distrito Escolar del Condado de Clark. Otro distrito con escuelas “magnet” es el Washoe County School District.

Puede contactar a Nevada School Choice Coalition para mas información.

 

New Hampshire:

Dependiendo de dónde vivas en New Hampshire, puedes considerar una escuela magnet. Maple Street Magnet School era la única escuela magnet de New Hampshire. Los estudiantes aceptados en la Maple Street Magnet School a través de su lotería ciega pueden elegir asistir a la escuela magnet en lugar de la escuela de su vecindario.

 

New Jersey:

New Jersey tiene varias escuelas magnet en todo el estado. Por ejemplo, puede leer sobre el enfoque de las Escuelas Públicas de Montclair respecto a las escuelas magnet, las ofertas de las Escuelas Técnicas y Vocacionales del Condado de Union y las siete escuelas “magnet” de Newark Public Schools aquí. New Jersey Family recientemente publicó este artículo de opinión con información adicional sobre las escuelas magnet de New Jersey.

 

New Mexico:

Los programas magnet de Nuevo México incluyen los que se centran en STEM, el programa de  Bachillerato Internacional, el plan de estudios de artes y más. La mayoría de las escuelas magnet de New Mexico se concentran en el Distrito Escolar Público de Albuquerque. Puedes aprender más sobre ellas aquí.

 

New York:

New York tiene varias escuelas magnet en todo el estado. Los distritos con escuelas o programas “magnet” incluyen el  NYC Community School District 30, Yonkers Public Schools, Rochester City School District, y muchos más. Busque en tu distrito local para obtener más información.

 

North Carolina:

North Carolina tiene varias escuelas magnet en todo el estado; por ejemplo, los distritos con escuelas o programas magnet incluyen

Cabarrus County Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Durham Public Schools, Mt. Airy City Schools, Surry County Schools, Wake County Public School System, y Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Una de escuela magnet en Charlotte ganó reconocimiento nacional por su desempeño

Entrevistamos a una escuela magnet de North Carolina, Atkins Academic and Technology High School, aquí

 

North Dakota:

Desafortunadamente, no hay escuelas públicas independientes en North Dakota. Puede haber programas magnet en las escuelas públicas tradicionales, y la ley permite escuelas magnet independientes, ¡así que manténgase en sintonía en el futuro!

 

Ohio:

En Ohio, hay varias escuelas y programas magnet en todo el estado. Por ejemplo, puede leer más sobre las escuelas magnet en el distrito de las escuelas públicas de Cincinnati aquí.  También puede leer sobre las escuelas magnet de Lima City Schools aquí o en School Choice Ohio.

 

Oklahoma:

Oklahoma tiene varias escuelas y programas magnet para que los considere. Por ejemplo, los distritos con escuelas o programas magnet incluyen Oklahoma City Public Schools , Muskogee Public Schools, Tulsa Public Schools y más. Puede contactar a Choice Matters para mas informacion en espanol.

 

Oregon:

Hay varias escuelas magnet en Oregon. Por ejemplo, puede leer sobre las opciones de las escuelas magnet del Distrito Escolar de Bend La Pine aquí, las de las Escuelas Públicas de Portland y las de las Escuelas de Beaverton

 

Pennsylvania:

Pensilvania tiene varias escuelas magnet en todo el estado. Por ejemplo, Pittsburgh Public Schools y el School District of Philadelphia tienen opciones magnet, entre otras.

 

Rhode Island:

Rhode Island sólo tiene un par de escuelas magnet en la actualidad, como la Classical High School en Providence, que se centra en el estudio de las artes, los idiomas y humanidades. 

 

South Carolina:

South Carolina tiene más de treinta opciones magnet en todo el estado, y éstas podrían ser una buena opción si su hijo aprende mejor enfocándose en un tema que le apasiona. Por ejemplo, los distritos con opciones magnet incluyen  Fairfield County School District, Florence County School District Three, Lexington-Richland School District Five, Richland County School District One, y Richland School District Two.

También entrevistamos al director de una de las mejores escuelas públicas de América, la Academic Magnet High School, aquí.

 

South Dakota:

South Dakota es uno de los cuatro estados que no tiene actualmente ninguna escuela magnet. Puede haber programas magnet en las escuelas públicas tradicionales, y la ley permite escuelas magnet independientes, ¡así que manténgase en sintonía en el futuro!

 

Tennessee:

Tennessee tiene varias escuelas magnet. Por ejemplo, Knox County School District, Metropolitan Nashville Public School District, Rutherford County School District, y Shelby County School District todos ofrecen opciones magnet, entre otras.

 

Texas:

Texas tiene muchas escuelas magnet. Por ejemplo, Aldine ISDDallas ISD en grados 6-8 o de grados 9-12, DeSoto ISD, Galveston ISD, Houston ISD, y Richardson ISD todos ofrecen opciones magnet. También puede estar interesado en revisar el ranking de las escuelas secundarias ” magnet ” de Texas en U.S. News & World’s report aquí. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que la lista puede no ser exhaustiva y debe consultar con su distrito local sobre las opciones más cercanas a usted.

 

Utah:

Utah tiene actualmente sólo unas pocas escuelas o programas magnet. Las escuelas públicas del Distrito Escolar de Ogden tienen algunos programas magnet. El Distrito Escolar de Salt Lake City también ofrece algunos programas magnet de aprendizaje extendido.

 

Vermont:

Actualmente, Vermont tiene al menos dos escuelas magnet. Sustainability Academy se centra en la justicia social, ambiental y económica para las comunidades. Integrated Arts Academy, por su parte, se centra en la música, el drama, el movimiento y las artes visuales. Ambas escuelas magnet están en Burlington Vermont School District.

 

Virginia:

Virginia tiene varias opciones de escuelas magnet, incluyendo la bien clasificada Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Los distritos escolares con escuelas magnet incluyen Fairfax County Public Schools, Newport News Public Schools, York County School Division, Hampton City Schools entre otras.

 

Washington:

Washington tiene varias escuelas y programas magnet en todo el estado. Por ejemplo, cualquier estudiante del Distrito Escolar de Lake Washington que entre en el 9º grado para el próximo año escolar es bienvenido a aplicar a Tesla STEM High School. Busque en su distrito local para ver si hay alguna opción magnet disponible para usted.

 

West Virginia:

West Virginia tiene un puñado de escuelas magnet en el estado. Por ejemplo, puede leer sobre algunas de las opciones de las escuelas magnet en el condado de Kanawha aquí

 

Wisconsin:

Wisconsin tiene varias opciones de programas magnet esparcidos por todo el estado. Puedes ver algunos de estos programas magnet, por ejemplo, en el sitio web del Departamento de Educación del estado.

 

Wyoming:

Desafortunadamente, no hay escuelas públicas independientes con programa magnet en Wyoming. Puede que haya programas magnet en las escuelas públicas tradicionales, y la ley permite escuelas magnet independientes, ¡así que manténgase en sintonía en el futuro!

Buscar Escuelas Cercanas

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
 

Comparte estos datos sobre escuelas magnet

magnet infographic long

 

Fuente: The School Choice Roadmap, por Andrew Campanella

Click aquí para descargar y compartir mas datos

escuelas magnet

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La información de esta guía está diseñada para ayudar a las familias que están considerando las escuelas magnet en su proceso de toma de decisiones. Nuestra misión es proporcionar a las familias la información que necesitan sobre todas las opciones de escuelas disponibles – públicas tradicionales, públicas chárter, públicas magnet, privadas, en línea y en el hogar – para que puedan elegir la adecuada para su hijo. Para obtener más guías sobre la elección de otros tipos de escuelas, haga clic aquí.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Public Magnet Schools

Imagine sending your daughter to a school that seems tailor-made to fit her fascination with science. Imagine finding a school for your son that sparks his curiosity about music. Imagine an entire school centered around one big theme – a theme that is used as a “hook” to help teach students about every subject.

More than 4,000 of these unique schools exist, all across the U.S. And guess what? They’re not elite private schools. They’re tuition-free public schools. They’re public magnet schools!

What do you need to know about public magnet school choice?

Get a quick rundown.

Magnet schools are free public schools that focus on particular themes, like performing arts or medical science. If you’re interested in learning more, this ultimate guide to public magnet schools is for you. Click on the buttons below to find a magnet school definition, answers to your magnet questions, links to resources in your state, and more. 

“Magnet schools. Have you heard of them? @SchoolChoiceWk created this starter guide to spread the news about these free public schools that often go under the radar.”

Sign up to learn even more about School Choice in your state!

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Magnet School FAQ

What is a magnet school?

Magnet schools are free public schools operated by school districts that allow kids to focus on a specific learning track, such as STEM, medical science, or performing arts. At a magnet school, all subjects are taught through the lenses of the school’s specific track. At an arts-focused magnet school, for example, students will learn all required classes (math, English, etc.). But, those required classes may include arts-related projects or discussions, and students will take a variety of arts classes as well. When teachers and students share a common passion for a subject, it can make for a vibrant learning community.

Finding a magnet school definition can be confusing! For example, some traditional public schools have magnet programs that a subset of students opt into. While those schools aren’t magnet schools in the fullest sense, their magnet programs can still offer the benefit of focusing on a particular theme.  

Many of us go to college and we don’t really know what we want to do; we may change our major two or three times. Sometimes having a choice in high school, even elementary school, clarifies that for students. Or, it just exposes them to another area they otherwise wouldn’t see in a traditional school.

Agnes Perry, DeBakey High School for Health Professions

Can anyone attend a magnet school? How do you get in?

Students are rarely, if ever, automatically assigned to magnet schools. Instead, families can choose to apply to a magnet school and, if accepted, attend it rather than their zoned school or the school nearest them. 

Sometimes, magnet schools are so popular that they rely on randomized lotteries to determine acceptance. If this is the case for a magnet school you’re interested in, you can submit an application to the school before its deadline. Then, you will be notified if there is space and your child has been accepted. Families with siblings already attending the school may be prioritized.

In addition, some magnet schools may have eligibility requirements. For instance, a magnet school with a music focus may require students to audition. The steps will be clearly outlined by each individual magnet school or program.

 

When to apply for magnet schools?

Districts have varying deadlines for magnet school applications, so we recommend you check with your local district! But, in our experience, the magnet application window can happen surprisingly early, especially in places where magnet schools are popular. Often, the application window for the next school year begins as early as November.

 

How much does a magnet school cost?

Importantly, magnet schools are public schools and thus free to attend for any student. Like all public schools, magnet schools are funded by taxpayers. Since magnet schools are public schools, transportation is typically free and provided as well. You can explore per-pupil spending for public schools, including magnet schools, at Project Nickel.

 

How long have magnet schools been around?

The history of magnet schools dates back to the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the earliest magnet schools were McCarver Elementary School in Washington, established in 1968, and Skyline High School in Texas, established in 1971.

 

Why magnet school?  

Magnet schools provide an exciting opportunity for kids to learn in a place where they’re immersed in a subject they love. For instance, Dr. Michael Lofton, founder of a magnet school in South Carolina told us, “[Students] 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.” 

How to Choose a Magnet School

We encourage parents to follow the seven steps outlined in The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Childa Foreward Indies award finalist, for all school search matters. This thorough, understandable process is designed to help all families identify learning environments that meet their children’s needs. These steps include:

1.Explore your magnet school options:

Is there a magnet school near you? You can find out using our free Schools Near Me tool. You can also research your options by checking out our state-by-state list of magnet school resources below, or by Googling your school district and “magnet schools” to get recent info about your locality. Remember, since magnet schools hone in on a particular theme, you’ll want to carefully consider what your child’s interests and aptitudes are. 

 

2.Connect: 

If there’s a magnet school that interests you, reach out for more information. You may also want to take a tour! Here are some questions you can ask: When can you can apply? (Magnet schools usually have a specified deadline for applications.) Are there any entrance requirements? (About 75% of magnet schools do not have entrance requirements. But, others do have auditions or special requirements.) What is your approach to education? Is there a lottery to decide which students are accepted? Do you provide transportation? (Most, but not all, magnet schools provide transportation.)

 

3.Apply:

Once your questions have been answered, you can move forward with applying. After completing an application, you are usually notified of your status via email or mail.

If your student is selected, you may need to officially “accept” your seat by a specified deadline. The school will provide you with information regarding what they need prior to you joining the school. 

Your student may receive an “alternate pool” or “waitlist” status. This means that your child may be able to receive a seat if one opens up in coming weeks.

If the magnet school does not have a spot for your child this year, you may need to choose another school. We know this can be disappointing. But, don’t be discouraged from trying again next year if you’re still interested. 

 

4.Get started:

If your child is accepted into the magnet school, you can let your previous school know that you will be transferring. You can also ask them if there is anything you need to do on their end. As a parent/legal guardian, you can ask the school for a copy of your student’s educational record. If your student has any additional services, such as an intervention plan, Individualized Education Program, 504 plan, or medical response plan, make sure that a copy of this information gets sent to the new school as well!

Magnet School Options in Your State

There are more than 4,000 magnet schools across the country serving about 3.5 million children. In addition, there are thousands of magnet programs within traditional public schools nationwide. Magnet schools, theme-based schools, or magnet programs are permitted in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. In some states, as indicated on the map below, there are no freestanding magnet schools, but there may be magnet programs available in traditional public schools.

Do you have magnet schools? Check out your state’s parent guide or scroll below to learn whether your state has any magnet schools. Again, we also suggest using the Schools Near Me tool to search your zip code, and talking to your local district about magnet options.

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC

Magnet schools are available
Magnet programs are available, but no freestanding magnet schools exist

Source: Magnet Schools of America, 2023; Independent research by NSCW

Alabama:

Alabama has more than 30 magnet schools. For instance, the Mobile County Public School District (Alabama’s largest school district) offers a list of its nine magnet schools. As the district explains, “Our choice schools embody the belief that highly motivated and academically focused students have interests and talents that are better cultivated in a magnet school program. Our magnet schools have focused themes and curricula in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Fine and Performing Arts, and International Baccalaureate.” In Mobile County, students are accepted into magnet schools based on a lottery system, and must meet entrance criteria. Other Alabama districts with magnet schools include HuntsvilleMontgomery, TuscaloosaPhenix, and Decatur.

Three of Alabama’s magnet schools are statewide schools: Birmingham’s Alabama School of Fine Arts, Mobile’s School of Math and Science, and Huntsville’s School of Cyber Technology and Engineering. Governor Ivey has proposed a fourth statewide magnet school, the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences, which may open in west Alabama by 2026.

To learn more, you may want to take a look at U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of magnet high schools in your state.

 

Alaska:

Alaska has a handful of magnet schools scattered throughout the state. For example, Barnette Magnet School, located in the Fairbanks North Star Borough District, describes its offering this way: “Barnette’s magnet or ‘draw’ is a combination of: small exploration classes, a community-based Friday in Fairbanks Program, and quarterly all-school Exhibit Nights. These are the elements of the school that set it apart from other schools and make the Magnet School experience a rewarding one for both students and parents.”

If you’d like to learn more, you may want to check out U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of magnet high schools in your state.

 

Arizona:

There are many magnet school options in Arizona. For instance, the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona currently lists twelve magnet schools. These include schools that focus on communication arts, dual language, Montessori, and gifted study.  Meanwhile, in Goodyear, Centerra Mirage STEM Academy is a magnet school focusing on hands-on STEM learning and enrichment. And, Gallego Primary K-3 Fine Arts Magnet School in the Sunnyside Unified School District focuses on art and creativity.

 

Arkansas:

You can find a list of Arkansas’ more than 30 magnet schools and programs at the Arkansas Department of Education Data Center. For example, Apple Glen Elementary School, located in Bentonville County, is a “visible learning” school, meaning that learning centers around the students. The students take responsibility for their education through self-evaluation and student-led activities. Some additional examples include Mary Mae Jones Elementary School and Hot Springs Park Magnet, which both offer International Baccalaureate programs. Districts with magnet schools include Bentonvillle, Hot SpringsMarion, and Texarkana Arkansas School District No.7.

 

California:

For the 2023 school year, there are about 400 magnet schools or programs in California. Districts with magnet schools include ABC Unified School DistrictGlendale Unified School DistrictLos Angeles Unified School Districtthe Napa Valley Unified School DistrictPasadena Unified School DistrictSan Diego Unified School District, and  Vista Unified School District. A new magnet program advised by George Clooney and other Hollywood influencers opened in downtown Los Angeles in 2022. The school prepares students for jobs in the entertainment industry.

Learn more about how California magnet schools function and are funded at the California Department of Education.

 

Colorado:

Colorado has more than 20 magnet schools throughout the state. Districts with magnet schools include Denver Public SchoolsMapleton Public Schools, and Douglas County School District. The Aurora Public Schools District is currently in the process of turning seven of its campuses into magnet schools with different specializations for families to choose from. Two of these new magnet schools just opened in 2022: the Charles Burrell Visual and Performing Arts Campus and the Clara Brown Entrepreneurial Academy. And in Pueblo, Corwin International Magnet School recently won its fourth Colorado Trailblazer Schools to Watch award!

We interviewed one Colorado magnet school, New Emerson School at Columbus.

 

Connecticut:

Connecticut has more than 90 magnet schools that families can choose from, more than half of which are interdistrict. An estimated 33,000 Connecticut students attend magnet schools. 

To find your local magnet school, use the complete list of Greater Hartford area magnet schools (there are more than 40!).You may also find frequently asked questions about Connecticut magnet schools and a family guide to school choice in the greater Hartford Region helpful.

For example, Breakthrough Magnet School in Hartford has a unique character education curriculum; the school has been recognized two years in a row for exemplary performance by Magnet Schools of America. Meanwhile, the Bristol Arts and Innovation Magnet School has two fully functional theaters and offers pathways in theater and creative construction. 

 

Delaware:

Delaware has a few magnet schools scattered throughout the state; this could be a great option if there is one near you and your child learns best by focusing in on a subject they are passionate about. Cab Calloway School of the Arts in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, for instance, allows students to major in dance, digital media, vocal music, theatre arts, and more. Conrad Schools of Science, also in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, offers a life science magnet. In the Indian River School district, Southern Delaware School of the Arts seeks to facilitate student learning through the arts.

 

Florida:

Florida has more than 600 magnet schools or programs across the state. Currently, there are 166,500 K-12 students enrolled in magnet schools or programs in Florida. To find out if your district has magnet programs, use the school search option on the Florida Department of Education’s website. Simply select your district and click “Go.” If there are magnet schools or magnet programs in your district, the tool will display them and list their focus. For example, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools District has magnet schools that focus on International Baccalaureate programming, foreign languages, performing arts, STEM, technology, and even criminal justice. Florida even has magnet schools with firefighting programs and drone pilot programs!

Two of the state’s newest magnet programs are a Montessori magnet in Hillsborough County School District and a health and wellness magnet school in the Pinellas County School District that shares a building with a YMCA.

 

Georgia:

Georgia has more than 20 magnet schools scattered throughout the state. Districts with magnet schools include Bibb County School DistrictRichmond County School SystemSavannah-Chatham Public Schools, DeKalb County School DistrictDougherty County School System, and Muscogee County School District. Additionally, Clayton County Public Schools offers various magnet programs.

 

Hawaii:

Unfortunately, there are no freestanding public magnet schools currently in operation in Hawaii. There may be magnet programs in traditional public schools, and the law allows for independent magnet schools, so stay tuned in the future! While not technically magnet programs, Hawaii does offer supplementary programs for gifted and talented students.

 

Idaho:

Idaho has more than 20 magnet schools or schools with magnet programs. You can view a list of these schools on the Idaho State Department of Education website. Idaho’s magnet program locations include Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Hailey, Idaho Falls, Nampa, Ammon, and Coeur d’Alene.

Additionally, through the state’s Advanced Opportunities program, every public school student in Idaho is allocated $4,125 to use in grades 7-12. These funds can be used for dual credits, Advanced Placement Exam fees, professional certifications, workforce training, or other qualified expenses. Public magnet students have access to this program, just like students at traditional neighborhood schools.

 

Illinois: 

There are more than 100 magnet schools in Illinois. Many of these are concentrated in the Chicago Public Schools’ District; you can search for these by using the Chicago Public Schools search tool and filtering for magnet schools. GoCPS is the online application platform for Chicago Public Schools families wanting to choose a school other than their neighborhood school.

Other districts, such as the Champaign Unit School District 4, Elgin Area Schools U-46Evanston/Skokie School District 65Rockford Public Schools and Decatur Public Schools have magnet schools or programs as well. Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), a residential academy for students in grades 10-12, is an option for students statewide. Students from more than 50 Illinois counties live on IMSA’s campus in Aurora.

 

Indiana:

Indiana has several magnet schools families can consider. In the Indianapolis Public School district, for example, there are more than 15 magnet elementary and middle schools. Meanwhile, the South Bend Community School Corporation has more than 20 magnet schools or programs, and Fort Wayne Community Schools has five magnet schools

 

Iowa:

Iowa has several magnet schools scattered throughout the state. In the Cedar Rapids Community School District, for instance, there are five magnet schools, including Johnson STEAM Academy, which has been ranked as one of the best magnet schools in the United States.

In fact, the first magnet high school in Iowa is opening: City View Community High School will launch this school year and offer a project-based focus.

 

Kansas:

As the Wichita Public School district describes, “Magnet schools are based on the premise that all students do not learn in the same ways, so if there is a unifying theme or a different organizational structure for students of similar interest, those students will learn more in all areas.” In the Wichita district, there are 17 elementary magnet school locations and seven middle, high, and K-8 magnet locations. The number is growing: Coleman Middle School is planning to transition into an environmental-focused magnet school in 2023. The deadline for applying to Wichita magnet schools is typically late January for middle and high schools, and early February for elementary schools. 

There are also other magnet schools throughout the state, such as in Hutchinson, Kansas City, and Topeka. For example, Scott Dual Language Magnet Elementary School in Topeka offers instruction in both English and Spanish.

                                                      

Kentucky:

Kentucky has a variety of magnet schools and programs spread throughout the state, including in Mason County School DistrictFayette County Public Schools and Jefferson County Public Schools. Fayette County Public Schools, for instance, describes how it has magnet schools with these focuses: “Biomedical sciences (Frederick Douglass High School); International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (Tates Creek High School); traditional programs (LTMS); individually prescribed education (Dixie); Spanish immersion (Maxwell and Bryan Station middle and high); science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM Academy and Rise STEM Academy for Girls); and curriculum taught through the lens of African-American history and culture (Carter G. Woodson academies).” And, while not a full magnet school, Central High School offers Louisville students a chance to participate in a pre-medical magnet program.

 

Louisiana:

Louisiana has several magnet schools throughout the state. Some Louisiana districts with magnet schools include Caddo Parish Public SchoolsCalcasieu Parish Public SchoolsEast Baton Rouge ParishJefferson Parish Schools, and Tangipahoa Parish School District. The East Baton Rouge Parish School System, for instance, has magnet schools allowing students to focus on pre-law, visual and performing arts, health sciences, business and governmental affairs, or engineering. Meanwhile, South Highlands Elementary Magnet in Shreveport is Louisiana’s first arts-integration school and has been recognized twice as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

 

Maine:

There is currently at least one operating magnet school in Maine. The Maine School of Science and Mathematics was recently ranked the second-best public high school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

In previous years, the state also had a public magnet school geared toward studying marine science, technology, transportation, and engineering: The Maine Ocean School. However, as of 2022, the Maine Ocean School is transitioning into an educational program-based model rather than a full-time magnet school. If you live near Maine’s magnet school, your child may be able to attend it rather than their public neighborhood school.

 

Maryland:

Maryland has several magnet schools throughout the state; for instance, there are more than 30 magnet schools or programs in the Baltimore area. Some of the other districts with magnet schools include Anne Arundel County Public SchoolsWashington County Public Schools, and Prince George’s County Public Schools.

For example, Deer Park Middle Magnet School offers eight creative magnet programs focusing on areas such as dance and mass communications. And recently, Anne Arundel County’s Old Mill Middle School South was named a National Magnet School of Excellence for its dedication to STEM learning and community partnerships.

 

Massachusetts:

Massachusetts established one of the nation’s first magnet schools, Trotter Elementary School, in the late 1960s. Today, Massachusetts has several magnet schools, such as Worcester Arts Magnet School, Chandler Magnet SchoolJoseph G. Pyne Arts Magnet SchoolMass Academy of Math and ScienceAlfred G. Zanetti Montessori Magnet School, and Tatnuck Magnet School.

 

Michigan:

Michigan has several magnet schools throughout the state. The International Academy of Macomb, for instance, is a county-wide International Baccalaureate magnet school that provides opportunities each year for its students to travel the world. Meanwhile, Kalamazoo’s Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts recently expanded its Arabic course offerings. The Lansing School District offers more than 10 magnet schools or programs. Other districts with magnet offerings include Michigan City Area SchoolsDetroit Public SchoolsSaginaw Public Schools, Ann Arbor Public Schools, and more.

 

Minnesota:

Minnesota has more than 75 magnet schools throughout the state. For example, some of the districts with magnet schools or programs include Anoka-Hennepin School District #11Brooklyn Center Community SchoolsBuffalo-Hanover-Montrose SchoolsDistrict 196: Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Independent School District 197Minneapolis Public SchoolsNorthwest Suburban Integration District, and Osseo Area Schools ISD 279.

As one example of Minnesota’s magnet school offerings, American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul provides learning rooted in American Indian culture and history. Meanwhile, Salk Middle School in Elk River has a pre-engineering STEM focus, and was recently recognized as a National Magnet School of Excellence.

 

Mississippi:

Mississippi has several magnet schools for families to consider. Some of the districts with magnet schools or programs include the Cleveland School District, the Natchez-Adams School District, the Laurel School District, and Jackson Public SchoolsColumbus Municipal School District even has magnet choices that allow kids to focus on aerospace, international studies, and healthy living.

 

Missouri:

Missouri has several magnet schools throughout the state. For more information, you can check out a sampling of the magnet elementary schools available in the St. Louis Public School districtKansas City Public Schools and Springfield Public Schools also have magnet schools. In fact, Springfield Public Schools is opening a new magnet program in 2023-2024 called Fly SPS. Students will have the opportunity to study aviation and earn a private pilot’s license while also earning high school and college credit.

Another new magnet school in Springfield is AgAcademy, which opened last year. AgAcademy focuses on the importance of agriculture for Missouri’s economy and is located at Missouri State’s Darr Agricultural Center. 

 

Montana:

Magnet schools are permitted in Montana, though we are not currently aware of any active magnet schools. If you know of one, please reach out and let us know!

 

Nebraska:

Nebraska has a handful of magnet schools scattered throughout the state, and these might be a good option if your child learns best by focusing in on a subject they are passionate about. For instance, Omaha Public Schools has both elementary school magnet programs (like Conestoga Elementary School) and high school magnet programs (like Benson Magnet High School).  

 

Nevada:

Las Vegas Sun article once described magnet schools as “schools within schools.” In other words, they offer specialty tracks within the public school system. Nevada has several magnet schools throughout the state; for instance, there are more than 35 magnet schools or programs in the Clark County School District. One of these, Southeast Career Technical Academy, was voted the best magnet school in America in 2022! The district is opening an additional career-focused magnet school in 2023: Northeast Career and Technical Academy. Besides career tech, the district’s magnet schools have focuses that range from the performing arts to STEM to hospitality and tourism. Another large district with magnet schools is the Washoe County School District.

 

New Hampshire:

Depending on where you live in New Hampshire, you may be able to consider a magnet school. Maple Street Magnet School is currently the only magnet school we are aware of in New Hampshire. Maple Street Magnet School’s unique focus is on community and sustainability. Students accepted to Maple Street Magnet School through its blind lottery can choose to attend the magnet school rather than their neighborhood school. 

 

New Jersey:

New Jersey has several magnet schools throughout the state. For instance, you can read about Montclair Public Schools’ approach to magnet schoolsUnion County Vocational-Technical Schools’ offeringsMiddlesex County Vocational and Technical schools, Monmouth County Vocational School District’s options, and Newark Public Schools’ magnet schools. New Jersey Family posted this piece with some additional information on New Jersey’s magnet schools

 

New Mexico:

New Mexico’s magnet programs include ones that focus on STEM, the International Baccalaureate program, arts curriculum, and more. Most of New Mexico’s magnet schools are concentrated in the Albuquerque Public School District. In the Las Cruces Public School District, there are engineering, art, and multi-media magnet programs. Additionally, Taos Municipal Schools has a blended-learning high-school magnet school, Taos Cyber Magnet School.

 

New York:

New York has several magnet schools throughout the state. You can easily search magnet schools in New York City at NYC Magnet Schools. The website offers families application info and information about magnet schools in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens. Other districts with magnet schools or programs include the Rochester City School District and the Buffalo School District. You can also search your local district to learn more.

 

North Carolina:

North Carolina has many magnet schools throughout the state. Districts with magnet schools or programs include Cabarrus County SchoolsCharlotte-Mecklenburg SchoolsDurham Public SchoolsSurry County SchoolsGuilford County Schools, Gaston County Schools, Onslow County Schools, Wake County Public School System, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

North Carolina’s magnet schools have themes that range from international languages to cosmetology, and from Montessori to digital marketing. In Surry County, one magnet school is even an online school. And in Raleigh, Washington Magnet School was recently named the top magnet elementary school in the nation! The 100-year-old school has a Gifted and Talented theme with about 200 elective choices. 

 

North Dakota:

Unfortunately, there are no freestanding public magnet schools currently in operation in North Dakota. There may be magnet programs in traditional public schools, and the law allows for independent magnet schools, so stay tuned in the future! 

 

Ohio:

Ohio has several magnet schools scattered throughout the state. For example, you can read about Cincinnati Public Schools’ more than 20 magnet schools and programs. Meanwhile, Lima City Schools’ magnet schools include one with an arts theme. In Toledo, early college magnet students take electives at the University of Toledo, getting a jumpstart on college. And Reynoldsburg City Schools has state-designated STEM schools open to any child in the district. Contact your district to learn if there are magnet schools near you.

 

Oklahoma:

Oklahoma has several magnet schools and programs for you to consider. 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.

 

Oregon:

There are several magnet schools in Oregon. For example, you can read about Bend La Pine School District’s magnet choicesPortland Public Schools’ choices, and Beaverton Schools’ magnet choices. Oregon’s magnet programs range from community-building to performing arts and more. 

 

Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania has several magnet schools throughout the state. For example, Pittsburgh Public SchoolsErie 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.

 

Rhode Island:

Rhode Island has just a couple of magnet schools or programs 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. 

 

South Carolina:

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, Lexington-Richland School District Five, Pickens County School District, 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. These magnet schools have focuses that range from business and law to STEAM to the arts.

 

South Dakota:

South Dakota is one of five states that does not currently have any 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! 

 

Tennessee:

Tennessee has several magnet schools. For example, the Hamilton County School DistrictKnox County School DistrictMetropolitan Nashville Public School DistrictRutherford County School District, and Shelby County School District all offer magnet choices, among others. 

Tennessee’s magnet options allow students to focus on topics such as fine arts, the liberal arts, STEM, and even design technology. 

 

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.

 

Utah:

Utah currently has just a few magnet schools or programs. The Ogden School District’s public schools have 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 recently launched a new magnet high school for career and technical education.

 

Vermont:

Currently, Vermont has at least two magnet schools. Sustainability Academy focuses on social, environmental, and economic justice for communities. Integrated Arts Academy, meanwhile, focuses on music, drama, movement, and visual arts. Both of these magnet choices are in the Burlington School District.

 

Virginia:

Virginia has several magnet school options, including the well-ranked Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. School districts with magnet schools include Fairfax County Public SchoolsNewport News Public SchoolsYork County School DivisionHampton City Schools, and more. Virginia magnet choices range from marine science to global studies and creative arts.

 

Washington:

Washington established one of the nation’s very first magnet schools in 1968. Today, Washington has several magnet schools and programs throughout the state. For instance, Lake Washington School District has launched Tesla STEM High School, and any rising 6th grader in the district is welcome to apply to the International Community School or the Environmental and Adventure School. The Bellevue School District offers a Mandarin magnet, and Vancouver Public Schools offers the STEM-focused Vancouver iTech Preperatory. Look to your local district to see if there are any magnet choices available to you.

 

West Virginia:

West Virginia has a handful of magnet schools scattered throughout the state. For example, you can read about some of the magnet choices in the Kanawha County Schools. And in Berkeley County Schools, Howe Hall Arts Infused Magnet School offers students learning through the arts. You can contact your school district to see if there are any magnet choices near you.

 

Wisconsin:

Wisconsin has several magnet schools scattered throughout the state. You can view some of these magnet programs, for instance, on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website. As just one example of Wisconsin’s magnet choices, Spring Harbor Middle School in Madison has an environmental studies magnet.

 

Wyoming:

Unfortunately, there are no freestanding public magnet schools currently in operation in Wyoming. There may be magnet programs in traditional public schools, and the law allows for independent magnet schools, so stay tuned in the future! 

Washington, D.C.

D.C. has a handful of public magnet schools or magnet programs. Duke Ellington School of the Arts, for instance, offers a unique dual enrollment curriculum where students receive professional arts training as well as academic preparation. 

Shareable Facts about Magnet Schools

Magnet schools in USA

The information in this guide to magnet schools is designed to help families who are considering magnet schools in their decision-making process. Our mission is to provide families with the information they need about all the school options available – traditional public, public charter, public magnet, private, online, and at home – so they can choose the right fit for their child. Read more guides about choosing other types of schools.

A few years ago, I visited a magnet school on a seemingly routine visit.

But, then, I found out that there is no such thing as a routine visit to a public magnet school, because magnet schools are anything but ordinary. They are extraordinarily cool!

On that trip, hundreds of students lined the halls and performed a seemingly impromptu rendition of the National School Choice Week dance. There were students everywhere — in stairwells, behind doors, and on balconies. It was fantastic.

My trips to other magnet schools have also left me inspired and appreciative.

I’ve visited magnet schools that focus on space sciences (this school had a NASA control center), medical arts, theater, and science.

Magnet schools are public schools, created by districts. They focus on one interesting theme, with the goal of attracting students to attend these schools and challenging them to enjoy learning. But, the theme isn’t the only thing that students learn at magnet schools. The schools use this “hook” to ensure that students are inspired to learn all subjects, and perform at high levels.

There are thousands of magnet schools across America, and hundreds of them are hosting events during National School Choice Week, so that parents, students, and community members can learn more about the many cool things that go on behind the doors of magnet schools. Art contests, video contests, special renditions of the National School Choice Week dance….you name it…magnet schools are making it happen during National School Choice Week.

Unfortunately, too many folks ignore magnet schools when talking about school choice. This needs to change. The passion, energy, high expectations, and uniqueness make these schools truly life-changing.

Learn more about National School Choice Week’s President, Andrew Campanella, in President’s Corner.