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School Choice and Charters

School Choice and Charters

NCSL SCHOOL CHOICE GUIDE

Cover image of NCSL reportWritten exclusively for state legislators and legislative staff, this guide—"Comprehensive School Choice: A Guide for Legislators"—provides an in-depth look at the many facets of public and private school choice including the many policy options available to legislators, empowering parents through policy and the effects of enacting multiple forms of choice in your state.

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PRIVATE SCHOOL CHOICE

Teacher and students in classroomThere are four primary policies states have adopted that expand private school choices:

  • School Vouchers
  • Scholarship Tax Credits
  • Personal Tax Credits and Deductions
  • Education Savings Grants

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CHARTER SCHOOLS

Girl smiling in school Legislators' role in charter schools includes determining how charter schools are funded, how they are held accountable, who can authorize a charter school, what facilities they can use and the amount of flexibility they have from state and district requirements. NCSL tracks and analyzes all aspects of state charter school policy.

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PARENT TRIGGER LAWS

Woman signing a petion from petitioner States can give parents the ability to intervene in their child's school if it is performing poorly. With enough signatures from parents, any number of actions can be taken against the low performing school. NCSL tracks legislative activity on this issue closely and compares the various parent trigger laws in states.

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OVERVIEW | SCHOOL CHOICE AND CHARTERS

Legislatures around the country have enacted various forms of school choice with the intent of improving student achievement throughout the education system, seeking innovative methods of instruction and school governance, and providing parents with an alternative to neighborhood schools.

While many public school choice options can be considered by states—including open enrollment policies and magnet schools—the most prominent public school choice policy is charter schools. 42 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation permitting charter schools, which operate outside the traditional school governance structure and exercise a high level of autonomy in exchange for more stringent accountability.

In addition to public school choice programs such as charter schools, 23 states and the District of Columbia have enacted school choice programs that provide support and incentives for parents to choose private schools in place of public schools. Options include traditional school vouchers, scholarship tax credits, and personal tax credits and deductions.

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