Interactive Guide to School Choice Laws

Benjamin Erwin 4/18/2019

School Choice Overview

Welcome to NCSL’s Interactive Guide to School Choice. School choice comes in many different forms and all 50 states plus the District of Columbia provide parents the ability to send their child to a school outside their neighborhood in some way. Charter schools, magnet schools, open enrollment programs and state turnaround districts all provide public school options to parents. School vouchers, education savings accounts and scholarship tax credit programs expand those choices to include private schools.

  • Clicking on a state will display a profile of all the school choice programs offered in that state.
  • To the right, you can click on a type of school choice policy for an explanation as well as a map of all the states that have enacted that policy.
  • Below, you will find many resources that will help you explore these policies further.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are publicly funded schools operated by their own independent school board. Charter schools operate under a legally binding contract with a charter authorizer that establishes academic performance benchmarks the school promises to meet before the contract expires. The contract also outlines various local and state regulations from which the charter is exempt, giving the school much more autonomy than a traditional public school. Charter schools are still bound by state and federal accountability laws including administering the state assessment to all students and receiving a school performance rating similar to all public schools.

At the end of the contract, the charter school must seek a renewal of its contract from the authorizing entity. If a charter school fails to have its contract renewed then the school closes.
Charter authorizers can be a number of different entities depending on state law. Common examples are local school district boards, state charter agencies and institutions of higher education. The authorizer evaluates prospective charter school applications and is tasked with ensuring charter schools are meeting the performance benchmarks in the charter contract. They serve primarily as an oversight body.

Sometimes the charter board contracts with a charter management organization (CMO)  that runs the day-to-day operations of the school including hiring staff, establishing the curriculum and setting school policies.

CMOs often operate a network of schools that implement a common school model. Many states and the federal government offer financial and nonfinancial incentives to help attract CMOs that have demonstrated a history of high student achievement.

As of December 2016, 43 states and the District of Columbia allowed charter schools.

Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are operated by school districts but do not have an attendance boundary like traditional public schools. Magnet schools tend to have a specific theme that guides every aspect of the school’s curriculum. Common examples includes schools that focus on STEM, performing and fine arts, and gifted and talented. The majority of magnet schools use a random lottery system without any enrollment restrictions. Some, however, do require admission exams or auditions to enroll. Magnet schools emphasize student diversity and aim to attract students from all backgrounds. Districts can receive additional federal funding to support magnet schools through the Magnet Schools Assistance Program.

As of December 2016, 31 states allowed districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

Open enrollment policies are designed to allow students to attend public schools other than the one they are assigned to based on school attendance boundaries. States can establish processes for allowing students to attend any school within their school district or a school in another school district. States must determine how students attending schools outside their district are to be funded. Some states allow districts to opt into open enrollment programs while others mandate that all districts participate.

State Turnaround Districts

State turnaround districts are state-operated school districts that take control of the lowest performing schools from their local school district. The state district then initiates school turnaround strategies that can include converting to a charter school or replacing the school’s leadership among many turnaround options. Once a school’s performance improves it can be returned to its original local school district. 

State turnaround districts typically embrace school choice and school autonomy principles. Their role looks more like a charter authorizer than a traditional school district,  allowing schools to operate autonomously but with high expectations of performance outcomes.

As of November 2016, six states had state turnaround districts.

Private School Choice

Private school choice programs are designed to provide financial assistance to students attending public school or entering kindergarten who wish to instead attend a private school. There are three primary approaches to private school choice—traditional school vouchers, education savings accounts and scholarship tax credits.

State policies must establish which students qualify for the choice program and what standards private schools must meet to accept them. States typically target specific subgroups of students, such as  those with low household incomes, students attending low-performing schools and students with disabilities. States vary widely on what standards private schools must meet. Common standards states often consider include private school accreditation, a school’s financial stability, and whether to administer student assessments.

Most states with private school choice programs allow students to choose among both religious and nonreligious private schools. At least 37 states have state constitutional provisions, called Blaine Amendments, that prohibit state funds from going to religious schools. These provisions have for the most part not been a barrier to states implementing private school choice programs that include religious schools.

There is growing interest at the federal level of allowing federal education funding to follow students who choose to participate in private school choice programs. The concept is commonly referred to as  “portability.”

As of December 2016, 27 states had at least one form of private school choice.

School Vouchers

School vouchers are one of three approaches to private school choice. Traditional vouchers are state-funded scholarships that pay for students to attend private school rather than public school. Private schools must meet minimum standards established by legislatures to accept voucher recipients. Legislatures also set parameters for student eligibility that typically target subgroups of students. These can be low-income students that meet a specified income threshold, students attending chronically low performing schools, students with disabilities, or students in military families or foster care.

As of December 2016, 14 states had traditional school voucher programs

See  more information on school vouchers.

Scholarship Tax Credits

Scholarship tax credit (STCs) programs are one of three forms of private school choice. These programs allow individuals and corporations to allocate a portion of their owed state taxes to private nonprofit scholarship-granting organizations that issue scholarships to K-12 students. The scholarship allows a student to choose from a list of private schools, and sometimes public schools outside of the district, approved by the scholarship organization. The scholarship is used to pay tuition, fees and other related expenses.

As of December 2016, 17 states had a scholarship tax credit program.

See more information on scholarship tax credit programs.

Education Savings Accounts

Education savings accounts are state-funded grants deposited into special savings accounts from which parents can withdraw funds for certain educational expenses. It works similarly to flexible spending plans that are available for health and child care expenses. Qualifying expenses can include private school tuition, private tutoring, private online courses, textbooks and college savings plans.

As of December 2016, five states had education savings account programs. The program in Nevada, however, is inactive as a result of a state Supreme Court decision that ruled the program’s source of funding was unconstitutional.

Click the specific state to populate its state laws.

Alabama

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 2015.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school boards, which must first register with state department of education.
    • Alabama Public Charter School Commission.
  • Funding: Students in Alabama charter schools are funded with the same amount of federal, state and local funds that would have otherwise been allocated to them at a traditional public school.
  • Facilities: Charter schools can access tax-free bonds through county financing authorities.

Magnet Schools

  • Alabama has magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Alabama does not have open enrollment.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Education Scholarship program
Ala. Code §§ 40-2A-7(a)(5) and 16-6D

  • Students are eligible to receive scholarships if their family qualifies for the federal free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) program, if they are younger than 19, and are zoned to attend a public school designated as failing.
  • Students are required to take state assessments.
  • Any taxpayer that donates to a scholarship organization can receive a tax credit worth 100 percent of the donation.
  • The state cap on total tax credits awarded under the program is set in statute by the Legislature.

Alaska

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First passed a charter law in 1995.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school districts.
    • The State Board of Education and Early Development must review and approve all charter school applicants following the local district’s approval.
    • The State Board of Education and Early Development can authorize charter schools that have been rejected by the local school district and appealed to the state board. The state board can also require the local district that initially rejected the applicant to serve as the authorizer.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive per-pupil funding similar to all other public schools.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools can receive state funds for school construction projects.
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.
    • Schools districts must give charter schools the right to first refusal before selling or leasing vacant district buildings.

Magnet Schools

  • Alaska allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • In Alaska, districts are required to participate in enrollment policies allowing students to transfer to schools outside of the students’ resident districts when the school the student is attending is designated as persistently dangerous.

Arizona

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1994.
  • Authorizers:
    • State Board of Education.
    • Arizona State Board of Charter Schools.
    • Public higher education institutions.
  • Funding: The state sets a charter school-specific base per-pupil funding level that it pays directly to charter schools.
  • Facilities:
    • State per-pupil allocation for facilities.
    • Charters have access to a state public school funding that supports the expansion and replication of high performing schools.

Magnet Schools

  • Arizona allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students can attend any school in their district. They can also attend any school outside their home district if there is space available.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program

  • Eligible students must meet on of the following criteria:
    • Attended public school for at least 90 days in the previous year.
    • Be enrolling in kindergarten.
    • A preschool student with a disability.
    • Child of active duty military personnel.
    • Previous recipient of another Arizona Student-Teacher-Course Connection (STC) program.
  • Participating private schools are not required to administer a standardized assessment.
  • Individuals receive a tax credit worth 100 percent of their donation to a scholarship organization.
  • There is no statewide cap on the amount of tax credits awarded.
  •  Scholarship organizations must spend at least 90 percent of all donations on student scholarships.

Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program

  • Eligible students must meet on of the following criteria:
    • attended public school for at least 90 days in the previous year
    • be enrolling in kindergarten
    • A preschool student with a disability
    • child of active duty military personnel
    • previous recipient of another Arizona STC program
  • Participating private schools are not required to administer a standardized assessment
  • Individuals receive a tax credit worth 100% of their donation to a scholarship organization
  • There is no statewide cap on the amount of tax credits awarded
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 90% of all donations on student scholarships

Lexie’s Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program

  • Eligible students must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or be in foster care and meet one of the following criteria:
    • attended public school for at least 90 days in the previous year
    • be enrolled in a private pre-school or private kindergarten program specifically for students with disabilities 
    • be a child of active duty military personnel
  • Participating private schools are not required to administer a standardized assessment
  • Donors receive a tax credit worth 100% of their donation to a scholarship organization
  • State statute sets a statewide cap on the amount of tax credits that can be awarded
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 90% of all donations on student scholarships

Education Savings Account

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

  • Eligible students must have attended public school 100 days of the prior year and meet one of the following criteria:
    • Attended a school or district that received a D or F under the state school grading system
    • Previously received a scholarship under the Lexie’s Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program
    • Either currently or previously in the state foster care system
    • A sibling of a current ESA recipient
    • Currently living on a Native American reservation
    • The state is phasing in near universal eligibility based on grade level. By 2021, all public school students will be eligible to participate
  • Children of active duty military personnel, who have a parent that was killed in the line of duty or who are pre-school-aged children with disabilities are exempt from the prior public school attendance requirement
  • Each ESA is equal to 90% of the amount the student’s prior district or charter school would have received in state funding. Students with household incomes below 250% of the federal poverty guideline receive 100% of the funding their prior district or charter school would have received in state funds
  • The number of students that can receive an ESA will be capped at the participation level attained during the 2021-22 school year
  • Participating students who attend a private school must take a qualifying assessment

Arkansas

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1995.
  • Authorizers
    • Conversion charter schools must get approval from both the local school district and the State Department of Education.
    • New charter school applicants are reviewed by the local school district but the official decision comes from the State Department of Education.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive local and state funding similar to other public schools.
  • Facilities:
    • Charter schools have access to state aid for charter facilities.
    • Charter schools can form public-private partnerships where the private partner obtains a tax-free bond to pay for facility costs.
    • Charter schools are granted the right to first refusal when school districts have unused facilities.

Magnet Schools

  • Arkansas allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Students attending schools or residing in school districts that are identified as being in academic or financial distress can transfer to another school or another district that is not in distress.
  • School districts can create transfer agreements with other districts but are limited in the number of students that can transfer across district boundaries each year.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

Succeed Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities

  • To be eligible students must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and have been enrolled in public school for the previous year. Children of active duty military personnel are exempt from the previous public school requirement.
  • Participating students can receive a voucher worth up to the base per-pupil amount in the school funding formula as determined by the legislature each year.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must be accredited by the state or an approved school accrediting agency.
    • Must administer an approved norm-referenced assessment to participating students.
    • Have published disciplinary policies and procedures for expulsion. The established procedures must be followed before voucher recipients can be expelled from a school.

California

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1992.
    • Authorizers
      • Local school districts.
      • County boards of education.
      • State Board of Education.
    • Funding: Charter schools are funded similarly to all other public schools in California.
    • Facilities:
      • Charter schools can receive state facilities grant funds if they have a minimum percentage of free and reduced-price lunch students either enrolled or residing in the local elementary attendance area.
      • Various ballot propositions have set aside funds for charter school facility projects.
      • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.
      • Charter schools can apply for state-backed loans for new school start-up costs including facilities.
      • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • California allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

California Open Enrollment Act
SBX5 4 CHAPTERED 01/07/10

  • The California State Superintendent of Public Instruction each year designates a list of 1,000 open enrollment schools largely based on the state’s school performance rankings from the previous year. Adjustments are made to ensure balance in geography and grade levels served.
    • The 1,000 open enrollment schools largely represent the lowest performing schools in the state. Students currently enrolled in one of these school have the option to transfer to any other school in the state so long as the receiving school has a higher state performance rating  than the student’s school of residence.
    • Beyond the Open Enrollment Act, school districts can voluntarily enter into transfer agreements with other districts, or voluntarily allow open enrollment within the school district.

Colorado

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1994.
  • Authorizers:
    • School districts.
    • Colorado Charter School Institute.
  • Funding: Charter schools are funded according to the state funding formula similar to all other public schools. The funds flow through the local school district, but districts are required to pass along all funds to the charter school based on the charter’s enrollment count—including all categorical funding. Districts are also required to share local mill levy override funds.
  • Facilities:
    • Charter schools receive state per-pupil funding for facilities.
    • Charter schools can apply to the state's competitive grant program for facilities.
    • The state has a loan matching program giving charter schools access to financing.
    • Charter schools have access to tax-exempt bonds though a state facilities authority.
    • The state offers credit enhancement to assist in securing the financing.
    • School districts cannot charge charter schools rent for using district-owned facilities.

Magnet Schools

  • Colorado allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Colorado mandates open enrollment within each school district. The state also requires open enrollment outside of a student’s local district so long as there is space available.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

  • Colorado does not have a state-enacted voucher program. The Douglas County School District, however, created a voucher program within its district for low-income students. The state Supreme Court ruled the program unconstitutional in 2015, but the case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • The district is currently attempting to limit the program to nonreligious private schools.

Connecticut

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First passed a charter school law in 1996.
  • Authorizers:
    • State Board of Education.
    • Local school districts and State Board of Education.
  • Funding:
    • State-authorized charter schools receive all funding from the state.
    • District-authorized charter schools receive funding through the local and regional boards of education.
  • Facilities funding:
    • State competitive bonds.
    • Low-interest loans from a state facilities authority.
    • Districts are incentivized by the state to allow high performing charter schools to have access to materials, like district facilities.

Magnet Schools

  • Connecticut allows districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Connecticut has a program in select cities allowing urban students to attend public schools in nearby suburban towns. It also allows suburban and rural students to attend public schools in a nearby urban center.

Delaware

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1995.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school boards.
    • State Department of Education.
  • Funding: Charter schools are funded through the same funding formula used for districts, with some exceptions.
  • Facilities:
    • The state department of education has a Charter School Performance Fund to which charter schools can apply for funding.
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority. 
    • The state funds minor capital improvements at charter schools the same way it funds improvements for vocational technical school districts.
    • School districts must make unused building space available for charter schools.

Magnet Schools

  • Delaware allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Receiving school districts must adopt policy regarding the process and criteria for acceptance of transfer students. State law provides guidelines for making sure district’s policy does not discriminate against open enrollment students.

Washington, D.C.

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1996.
  • Authorizers
    • D.C. Public Charter School Board.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive per-pupil funding based on the district funding formula similar to all public schools.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools receive per-pupil funding for facilities costs.
    • Congress offers facilities grants to D.C. charter schools.
    • Charter schools can access tax-exempt bonds from the District of Columbia Revenue Bond Program.
    • D.C. offers charter schools credit enhancement to reduce interest rates on facility loans.

Magnet Schools

  • D.C. Public Schools can operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Parents can request to attend a school other than their assigned neighborhood school. The district approves or denies the transfer.

Private School Choice

Vouchers

Opportunity Scholarship Program

  • Created by an Act of Congress in 2004.
  • The program is administered by a nonprofit organization.
  • Eligible students must have household incomes no more than 185 percent of the federal poverty guideline or be receiving SNAP benefits.
  • If a participating student’s household incomes exceeds 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline then they will no longer be eligible for the voucher.
  • Federal statute establishes the value of the voucher and allows it to adjust each year based on the Consumer Price Index. Students can receive more funds in grades 9-12.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Core subject teachers must have a bachelor’s degree.
    • Must comply with compulsory attendance laws.
    • Must administer an assessment approved by the independent evaluator tasked with evaluating student performance.

Florida

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First passed a charter school law in 1994.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school districts.
    • Higher education institutions.
  • Funding: Charter schools are entitled to the same funding as other public schools under the state funding formula.
  • Facilities
    • Florida offers per-pupil facilities funds for eligible charter schools.
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • Florida allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students can attend any school in their district. They can attend any school outside their home district if there is space available. (check 2016 legislation to verify)

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program
Fla. Stat. § 1002.39

  • To be eligible, students must have previously attended public school or be entering kindergarten. They also must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • The private school scholarship is funded at the same amount a public school would have received for the student.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list).
    • Must be preapproved by the state to accept voucher students.
    • Schools that have been open for less than three years must obtain a surety bond or line of credit equivalent to the amount they are receiving in voucher funds for one quarter.
    • There is no testing mandate but schools must report to parents on the progress of each participating student.

Scholarship Tax Credit Program

Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program
Fla Sta. § 220.1875
Fla Sta. § 1002.395

  • Eligible students must qualify for free or reduced-price lunch and must be entering kindergarten or first grade, or have attended public school the preceding year.
  • Businesses are eligible for a tax credit worth 100 percent of the donation that can be applied to corporate income tax, sales tax, some excise taxes, insurance premium tax and severance tax.
  • The aggregate amount that can be awarded in tax credits each year automatically increases by 25 percent when donations reach 90 percent of the existing cap
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 97 percent of all donations on student scholarships.
  • Participating students in grades 3-10 must take the state assessment or a state-approved alternative assessment.

Hope Scholarship Program

Fla. Stat. § 1002.40

  • Eligibility is limited to students who have been bullied or physically attacked in school. 
  • Funding for the scholarship program is generated via motor vehicle purchases. Purchasers may direct up to $105 of the sales tax per vehicle to the program. 
  • Student scholarships ar determined as follows:
    • Students in kindergarten through fifth grade are eligible for a scholarship up to 85% of the amount of the unweighted full-time equivalent.
    • Students in sixth through eighth grade are eligible for a scholarship up to 92% of the amount of the unweighted full-time equivalent.
    • Students in ninth through twelfth grade are eligible for a scholarship up to 96% of the amount of the unweighted full-time equivalent.

Education Savings Account

Gardiner Scholarship Program
Fla. Stat. § 1002.385

  • Eligible students can be as young as 3 years old and must have an individualized education plan or have been diagnosed with a qualifying disability.
  • The value of a grant is equal to the per-pupil funds the student’s neighborhood school would have received, including all categorical funding.
  • Participating students must take the state assessment or a state-approved alternative assessment.
  • Unused funds are transferred to a college savings account at the end of each school year.

Georgia

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First enacted its charter school law in 1994.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school districts.
    • State Department of Education.
    • State Charter School Commission.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive local and state operational funds similar to all other public schools based on the state funding formula.
  • Facilities:
    • Charter schools receive per-pupil funds for facilities from the state.
    • The state awards competitive need-based grants for charter school facilities.
    • Charter schools can access tax-free bonds through county financing authorities.
    • District-sponsored charter schools have access to unused district facilities free from lease payments.

Magnet Schools

  • Georgia allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students can attend any school within their home school district if the school has available space.
  • Students can attend a school outside their home district if both school boards approve the enrollment, or if the student lives closer to the out-of-district school than their assigned school.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program
O.C.G.A. TITLE 20 Chapter 2 Article 33

  • Open to students with certain disabilities and that have had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) within the previous year.
  • Students must have attended a Georgia public school for the prior school year unless the parents are active duty military personnel.
  • The scholarship is equal to what a public school would have received for each participating student, not counting federal funds.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list).
    • Private schools are not required to administer the state assessment.
    • Participating private schools must show financial sustainability to accept voucher students.
    • Must have been open for at least one year or otherwise must get approval from the state on its financial stability.

Scholarship Tax Credits

Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit
O.C.G.A. § 20-2A
O.C.G.A. § 48-7-29.16

  • All students who have attended public school the preceding six weeks, or students who are entering preschool through first grade are eligible for a scholarship.
  • Participating students are not required to take assessments.
  • Individuals and businesses can receive a tax credit worth 100 percent of their donation to a scholarship organization, and up to $1,000 for individual donors or 75 percent of a business donor’s total income tax liability.
  • The state cap on total tax credits awarded under the program is set in statute by the legislature.
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 90 percent of all collected donations on student scholarships.

Illinois

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1996.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school boards.
    • State Charter School Commission (if denied by local school board).
    • Voters.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive funding similar to traditional public schools with federal, state and local funds coming through the local school district to the charter.
  • Facilities funding:
    • Charter schools can access tax-free bonds through county financing authorities.

Magnet Schools

  • Illinois allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Students must pay tuition to attend a public school outside of their resident school district.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credit

Invest in Kids Program

  • Students are eligible to receive a scholarship if their family income is below 300% of the federal poverty level.
  • Student scholarships cannot exceed the state’s average operational expense per pupil, with exceptions.
    • Gifted and talented students are eligible for scholarships of 110% of the average operational expense per pupil.
    • English Language Learners are eligible for scholarships of 120% of the average operational expense per pupil.
    • Students eligible for services under IDEA are eligible for scholarships of 200% of the average operational expense per pupil.
    • Students with a household income less than 185% of the federal poverty level are eligible for scholarships up to 100% of the average operational expense per pupil.
    • Students with a household income between 185% and 250% of the federal poverty level are eligible for scholarships up to 75% of the average operational expense per pupil.
    • Students with a household income greater than 250% of the federal poverty level are eligible for scholarships up to 50% of the average operational expense per pupil.
  • Illinois set a $75 million credit cap for scholarship awards. 

Hawaii

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1994.
  • Authorizers:
    • State Public Charter School Commission.
    • Public and private postsecondary institution.
    • County agencies.
    • State agencies.
    • Nonprofits.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive per-pupil funding from the state and must be equal to the funding that traditional public schools receive.
  • Facilities funding:
    • Appropriation and bond authorization from the Legislature.
    • Charter schools are notified when there are suitable facilities.
    • Vacant school facilities are available to charter schools.

Magnet Schools

  • Hawaii does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Hawaii only has one school district. Open enrollment is allowed when mandated by the Department of Education or federal law. Other transfer requests are granted at the discretion of the Department of Education. Transferring students must provide a certificate of release from the sending school.

Idaho

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1996.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school boards.
    • State Public Charter School Commission.
    • Public colleges and universities.
    • Some private colleges and universities.
    • State Board of Education.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive per-pupil state funds through the same formula used for traditional public schools. Charters are also eligible for any qualifying federal funds. Charters are not entitled to local funding.
  • Facilities funding:
    • Charter schools receive per-pupil facilities funding from the state.
    • Charter schools may submit reimbursement claims to the State Department of Education to cover facilities costs.
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.
    • The state has a public charter school debt reserve to assist certain charter schools in obtaining financing for facility improvements and construction.

Magnet Schools

  • Idaho has magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • In Idaho, school boards can enter into agreements for transferring students between districts. Local school boards must adopt policies defining specific standards for accepting or rejecting transfer students from other districts. A receiving school district is not required to admit a transfer student if the transfer would be a hardship for the receiving district, as defined by district policy.

Indiana

Public School Choice

Charter School

  • First charter school law passed in 2001.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school district.
    • Higher education institutions.
    • Indiana Charter School Board.
    • Mayor of Indianapolis.
  • Funding: Charter schools are funded under the state funding formula including applicable local, state and federal funds.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools meeting state performance standards are eligible for a per-pupil allocation for facilities.
    • The state administers a loan program for charter schools to borrow funds for facilities at 1 percent interest.
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.
    • District facilities previously used for classroom instruction must be made available for lease or purchase to charter schools.
    • The state compiles a list of unused district facilities available for charter schools. Districts must lease the building to an interested charter school for $1 per year. The district can also sell the building to the charter school for $1.

Innovation Network Schools

  • Indiana allows for innovation network schools, which are similar to charter schools in that they are granted autonomy over most school-based decisions like budget, curriculum and staffing in exchange for rigid performance expectations. But rather than being operated by an independent governing board like a charter school, they continue to operate under the local elected school board.

Magnet Schools

  • Indiana allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students can attend any school within their district as long as space is available.
  • School districts can voluntarily accept students from other districts. Under certain circumstances, school districts are required to accept students from other districts.

Private School Choice

School Voucher

Choice Scholarship Program

  • Eligible students must meet one of the following criteria:
    • Attended public school for the two previous semesters and has a household income up to 150 percent of the Free and Reduced Lunch Program (FRLP) guideline.
    • Has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for students with disabilities and household income up to 200 percent of the FRLP guideline.
    • Lives in the attendance zone and would be assigned to attend a school that received an F on the state school grading system, and has a household income up to 150 percent of the FRLP guideline. No previous public school attendance is required for this criterion.
    • Previously received a scholarship under the scholarship tax credit program or this voucher program and has a household income up to 200 percent of the FRLP guideline.
  • A student that qualifies for FRLP can receive a voucher worth up to 90 percent of what the local school district would have received in state funds for that student.
  • A student with a household income between 101-150 percent of the FRLP guideline can receive a voucher worth up to 50 percent of what the local school district would have received in state funds for that student.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Be accredited by the state or a state-approved accrediting agency.
    • Administer the state assessment to all enrolled students including those that receive a voucher.
    • Be evaluated and assigned a performance grade under the state’s A-F school accountability system similar to public schools.

Scholarship Tax Credits

School Scholarship Tax Credit Program

  • Eligible students must have a household income up to 200 percent of the FRLP guideline. No previous public school enrollment is required.
  • Participating private schools must administer either the state assessment or a nationally norm-referenced standardized test.
  • Individuals and corporations are eligible to receive the tax credit worth up to 50 percent of their donation to a scholarship organization.
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that the state can award in tax credits for a given year.
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 90 percent of all donations on student scholarships.

Kansas

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • Kansas’s charter law was enacted in 1994.
  • Authorizers:
    • First approved by local school board, then approved by State Board of Education.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive funding from the school district that authorizes them.
  • Facilities
    • Kansas state statute does not address charter school facilities funding.

Magnet Schools

  • Kansas allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • In Kansas, boards of education may create transfer agreements between districts.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program
K.S.A. §§ 72-99a01through 72-99a07 ; 79-32,138

  • Students ages 5-21 are eligible if they attend a school identified as failing and if their family income does not exceed 100 percent of the guidelines needed to qualify for the free lunch program.
  • Participating private schools do not have to administer an assessment.
  • Businesses can receive a tax credit worth 70 percent of their donation to a scholarship organization.
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that the state can award in tax credits for a given year.
  • Scholarship organizations can use 10 percent of contributions on administrative costs.

Iowa

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 2002.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school board and State Board of Education (charter applicants need approval from both).
  • Funding: Charter schools receive funding from the authorizing school district.
  • Facilities:
    • Charter schools have access to state facility funding.

Magnet Schools

  • Iowa does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Parents may request to move their student to another district and may request a preferred school, but the district has authority to determine which school the child will attend. Districts may opt out because of capacity, but they must have a policy defining "insufficient classroom space." Iowa law lays out conditions in which districts can accept or deny transfers. Districts that cannot grant transfer requests must create a waiting list.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

School Tuition Organization Tax Credit
Iowa Stat. § 422.11S

  • Students are eligible if their family income does not exceed 300 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
  • Participating private schools do not have to administer an assessment.
  • Individuals are eligible for a tax credit worth 65 percent of their donation to a scholarship organization.
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that the state can award in tax credits for a given year.
  • Scholarship organizations can use 10 percent of contributions on administrative costs.

Kentucky

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 2017.
  • More details coming soon.

Magnet Schools

  • Kentucky allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • In Kentucky, parents can enroll students in the public school closest to their home within their school district attendance area. Their is no guarantee the student will be allowed to attend that school, however, because school districts have final authority over school assignments. School districts may enter into written agreements with one another to allow students to transfer from one to the other.

Louisiana

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1995.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school districts.
    • State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
    • Institutions of higher education and other state agencies.
    • Qualifying nonprofit organizations.
  • Funding: Charter schools authorized by local school districts receive funding through the district similar to traditional district schools. Charters authorized by nondistrict entities receive all their funding directly from the state.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt financing for facilities through the state public facilities authority.
    • School districts must make vacant facilities available to charter schools for lease or purchase at market value.

Magnet Schools

  • Louisiana allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students can attend any school within their district when space is available.
  • Students from low performing schools and schools with high levels of violence can transfer to another school within their district.
  • Districts are not required to accept students from neighboring districts although they can voluntarily.
  • Most schools in the New Orleans area participate in OneAPP, a centralized enrollment system that helps match students with their preferred schools.

State Turnaround District

  • The Recovery School District was the nation’s first state turnaround district created in 2003.
  • Schools located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge that also rank in the bottom 5 percent in performance according to the state school accountability system can be taken over by the RSD.
  • In 2016, the state enacted legislation to transfer all of the RSD schools in New Orleans back to the control of the Orleans Parish School Board.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

Louisiana Scholarship Program

  • Students are eligible for a voucher if they have a household income up to 250 percent of the federal poverty guideline, and they meet one of the following criteria:
    • Are entering kindergarten.
    • Previously attended a public school that received a grade of C or below under the state school grading system.
    • Previously attended a school in the Recovery School District.     
  • Students can receive a voucher worth up to 90 percent of the local and state per-pupil funding amount based on each student’s resident school district.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must administer the state assessment to all voucher recipients
    • Cannot charge voucher students more tuition than nonvoucher students
    • Schools with at least 40 voucher students in grades 3-8, or in high school, receive a performance score based on the test results of voucher students called the Scholarship Cohort Index (SCI). Schools with an SCI score below 50 can no longer accept new voucher students.

School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities

  • Students are eligible if they meet both of the following criteria:
    • Have a qualifying disability.
    • Have an Individualized Education Program (IEP), district provided services plan or a nonpublic school created service plan.
  • Vouchers are worth up to 50 percent of what the state would have paid for a participating student to attend their local public school.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Are not required to administer a standardized assessment.
    • Must have been in operation and providing special education services for at least two years to accept voucher students.
    • Operate in a parish with a population of more than 190,000.
    • Must employ teachers certified in special education.

Scholarship Tax Credit

Tuition Donation Rebate Program

  • Students are eligible if they have a household income up to 250 percent of the federal poverty guideline and meet one of the following criteria:
    • Are entering kindergarten.
    • Attended a public school the previous school year.
    • Previously received a scholarship under the program.
  • Taxpayers paying state income taxes are eligible to receive a tax credit worth 100 percent of their donation to a scholarship organization.
  • There is no cap on the size of the credit a single taxpayer can receive nor is there a limit on the aggregate amount in tax credits awarded by the state.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must administer the state assessment to participating students.
    • Must admit students based on a random lottery if there are more applicants than spaces available in the school.

Maine

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 2011.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school boards.
    • Collaborative local school boards.
    • State Charter Schools Commission.
  • Funding: All funding must follow each student to their charter school.
  • Facilities:
    • Charter schools have the right of first refusal to purchase or lease any school facilities or property and that the price cannot exceed the fair market value of the property.

Magnet Schools

  • Maine allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Students may attend another school with permission from the receiving school. Students who live far away from their designated school may obtain permission to attend a school in an adjoining district. Students in districts without an elementary school or in districts with 10 or fewer students may attend a school in another district.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

Town Tuitioning Program
Maine Rev. Stat. 20-A §§ 2951-55

  • Students are eligible if they live in Maine and reside in a town that does not have a public school at their grade level.
  • Vouchers can be worth up to 115 percent of the student’s current funding.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Voucher students may not attend a religious school.
    • Private schools with enrollment consisting of at least 60 percent voucher students are required to administer the state assessment.

Massachusetts

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter law passed in 1993.
  • Authorizers
    • State Board of Education.
  • Funding: A charter school receives funding based on the per-pupil amount each sending school district (the district in which the students reside) would have spent for those students. State law established a formula that is to be used to calculate this for each charter school based on where the students of a particular charter school reside.
  • Facilities:
    • The state allocates facilities funding directly to charter schools on a per-pupil basis.
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds through a state financing authority.

Magnet Schools

  • Massachusetts allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • School districts are not required by the state to allow students to transfer schools within the district or between districts. District can voluntarily allow such transfers.

Maryland

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 2003.
  • Maryland’s authorizers include:
    • County school boards (applicant may appeal to the State Board of Education).
  • Funding: Maryland law requires that charter schools have access to funding from county, state and federal funding.
  • Facilities:
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.
    • County school boards must notify public charter schools about school sites and buildings available for occupation.

Magnet Schools

  • Maryland allows districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Maryland does not have open enrollment programs.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (Boost) Program
Fiscal 2017 Budget Bill § R00A03.05

  • Students are eligible if they live in families with incomes up to, but not exceeding, 100 percent of the federal free and reduced-price lunch program.
  • Participating students can receive a voucher up to the statewide average of the local per-pupil expenditure for the current school year.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must administer the state assessment to all voucher students.
    • Must serve at least one grade level other than kindergarten.

Michigan

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

The first charter school law was passed in 1993.

  • Authorizers:
    • Local school districts.
    • Intermediate school districts.
    • Public institutions of higher education.
  • Funding: Charter schools are funded directly by the state on a per-pupil basis. Charter schools are supposed to receive the same per-pupil funding as the district where they are located. However the state does have maximum foundation allowance that caps charter school funding
  • Facilities
    • School district authorizers can share bond revenues with charter schools if it is part of the charter contract.
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt financing through the state facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • Michigan allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students attending chronically low performing schools must be allowed to enroll in another school within their district. Intermediate school districts can voluntarily allow students with transfer between districts within the intermediate district or accept students from a neighboring intermediate district.

State Turnaround District

  • The Education Achievement Authority (EAA) was created in 2011.
  • All EAA schools operate in the Detroit area.
  • Schools performing in the bottom 5 percent in the state and that fail to show progress under existing turnaround plans can be taken over by the EAA.

Minnesota

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1991. It was the nation’s first charter school law.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school districts.
    • Intermediate school districts.
    • Qualifying nonprofit organizations.
    • Institutions of higher education.
    • Other organizations and businesses that meet specific state requirements for authorizing.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive per-pupil funding using a statewide funding formula specifically for charter schools.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools receive a per-pupil allocation for facilities from the state.
    •  Under certain circumstances charter schools can access tax-exempt financing for facilities.

Magnet Schools

  • Minnesota allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students can attend any school within their district and in other districts so long as space is available.

Missouri

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • Charter school law was enacted in 1998.
  • Authorizers
    • Kansas City and St. Louis school districts or the state entities that manage the two districts.
    • High-performing school districts.
    • Qualifying institutions of higher education.
    • State board of education.
    • All approved charter school applications must also receive approval from the state board of education.
  • Funding: Charter school students are counted as students of the districts in which they reside for funding purposes. Their resident district then must pay the local, state and federal per-pupil amount to those students’ charter school.
  • Facilities
    • School districts can share bond revenue with charter schools.
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt financing through a state facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • Missouri allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • School districts have the option of accepting students from outside their boundaries, but are not required to. Students that live in unaccredited districts are allowed to enroll in a school in an accredited district within the same county or a neighboring county.

Mississippi

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 2010.
  • Authorizers
    • Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive local per-pupil funds from the district in which they reside equal to what the district spends per-pupil for all of its students. Charters receive state per-pupil funds equal to what the state would have paid the district in which the charter is located. The state deducts this amount from the local districts state funding
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools have a right-to-first-refusal to lease or purchase any vacant school district property should the district decide to sell or rent it.

Magnet Schools

  • Mississippi allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students wishing to enroll in a school other than their assigned neighborhood school must get permission either from their resident school district or the district in which the desired school is located. Districts are not obligated to approve the transfer.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

Nate Rogers Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program              

  • Students are eligible if they have been diagnosed with a speech-language impairment, are in grades 1-6, and attended a public school or qualifying speech therapy school the previous year.
  • Students can a receive a voucher up to the amount that the state would have paid for the student to attend their local public school.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must be state-certified to provide speech therapy.
    • Instruction must be provided by a certified speech therapy pathologist.
    • Students are not required to take assessments although schools must provide parents an annual report of their child’s progress.

Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia Program

  • Students are eligible if they have been diagnosed with dyslexia, are in grades 1-6, and attended a public school or qualifying private school specializing in dyslexia instruction the previous year.
  • Students can a receive a voucher up to the amount that the state would have paid for the student to attend their local public school.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must be state-certified to provide dyslexia therapy.
    • Instruction must be provided by licensed dyslexia therapists.
    • Students are not required to take assessments although schools must provide parents an annual report of their child’s progress.

Education Savings Account

Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program

  • Students are eligible if they have had an Individualized Education Program (IEP) during the previous 18 months.
  • The original amount of funds students received for their ESA was $6,000. That amount is adjusted each year proportional to the change in the state share of base K-12 funding.
  • A maximum of 500 students can participate.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept ESA students (see statute for full list):
    • Must be accredited by a state or regional accrediting agency.
    • Must offer students the opportunity to take a nationally norm-reference assessment, although students are not required to take an assessment.

Montana

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • Montana does not have charter schools.  

Magnet Schools

  • Montana does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • School districts can voluntarily accept students from other districts. Under limited circumstances, school districts are required to accept students from other districts.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Tax Credits for Contributions to Student Scholarship Organizations
Mont. Code Ann. §§ 15-30-3101 through 3114

  • All students between the ages of 5 and 18 in Montana are eligible.
  • Students participating in the program take a nationally normed assessment in grades 8 and 11.
  • Individuals and corporations receive a tax credit worth 100 percent of their donation to an approved Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs).
  • In its first year (2016) the statewide cap is $3 million. If the cap is met, the cap can be raised by 10 percent in subsequent years.
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 90 percent of all donations on student scholarships.

North Carolina

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1996.
  • Authorizers
    • North Carolina Charter Schools Advisory Board.
    • Charter applicants must also receive approval from the State Board of Education
  • Funding: Charter schools receive per-pupil funding from both local and state funds based on the average per-pupil funding of the school district in which the charter school is located. Charter schools receive additional state funds for students with disabilities and English language learners.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds through the state public facilities authority.
    • Local school districts are required, upon request from a charter school located in the district, to lease any vacant district facilities to that charter school for free. The charter school must pay for maintenance and insurance costs.

Magnet Schools

  • North Carolina allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students can attend schools outside of their resident school district, but must first receive permission from their resident district.

State Turnaround District

  • The Achievement School District was created in 2016.
  • The State Board of Education can choose a maximum of five schools to be transferred into the ASD.
  • Schools must meet the following conditions to be selected for the ASD
    • Received a school performance score in the lowest 5 percent statewide
    • Serves all or part of grades K-5.
    • Did not meet or exceed growth in at least one of the prior three school years.
    • An alternative turnaround model was not adopted for the school the previous school year.
  • Additionally, schools with performance scores in the lowest 10 percent statewide can be designated by their school districts for consideration by the ASD.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers
Opportunity Scholarship Program

  • Students are eligible if they have a household income up to 133 percent of the free and reduced price lunch program (FRPL) guideline and meet one of the following conditions:
    • Attended a public school the previous semester.
    • Is currently in foster care.
    • Was adopted within the past year.
    • Will be enrolling in kindergarten or first grade.
  • As of 2016, students can receive a voucher up to $4,200 per year. Students with a household income between 100 percent and 133 percent of the FRPL guideline are only eligible for a voucher worth 90 percent of a private school’s tuition and fees, up to $4,200          
  • The following are some of the standards that private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must be accredited by the state or an approved accrediting agency.
    • Must administer the state assessment or an approved national assessment to voucher recipients and report the results to the state.
    • Cannot charge voucher students more tuition than non-voucher students.

Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities

  • Students are eligible if they qualify for an Individual Education Program (IEP) and meet one of the following conditions:
    • Attended a public school the previous semester.
    • Will be enrolling in kindergarten or first grade.
  • As of 2016, students can receive up to $8,000 per year ($4,000 per semester) for private school tuition and other qualifying special education services.
  • The only standards that private schools must meet to accept voucher students are meeting health and safety regulations, and complying with state and federal nondiscrimination laws.

Education Savings Account

Personal Education Savings Account program

  • Students are eligible if they have an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • Students can receive a maximum allocation of $9,000 for therapeutic and educational purposes. 
    • Transportation is an allowable purchase. 

Nebraska

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • Nebraska does not have charter schools.

Magnet Schools

  • Nebraska allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • In Nebraska, students may enroll in any school district of their choice so long as the district has the capacity. The district retains final authority over which school that student will be assigned to within the district. Many districts with mutiple buildings, however, allow students to choose the school they want to attend so long as the school has space available.

Nevada

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1997.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school districts that have been approved by the Nevada Department of Education to be charter authorizers.
    • State Public Charter School Authority.
    • Approved institutions of higher education.
  • Funding: Charter school students are counted in the enrollment of the school district in which the charter school is located. Each charter school receives local, state and federal per-pupil funding based on what the students would have received had they attended their neighborhood public school.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds through the state.
    • New charter schools can apply for state-issued loans to pay for start-up costs including facilities.

Magnet Schools

  • Nevada allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • School districts can enroll students from adjacent school districts, but are not required to do so.

State Turnaround District

  • The Achievement School District was created in 2015.
  • The ASD can choose up to six existing public schools that have been approved by the State Board of Education for consideration and convert them into achievement charter schools.
  • The ASD will serve as the charter authorizer.
  • Public schools can be considered for conversion to an achievement charter school if they meet one of the following criteria:
    • Were among the lowest 5 percent of elementary and middle schools in the state based on the most recent year’s school performance ratings.
    • Were a high school with a graduation rate below 60 percent the previous school year.
    • Have been otherwise identified by the state Department of Education as having unsatisfactory academic achievement and school performance.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program

  • Eligible students must have a household income no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline. No prior public school attendance is required.
  • There is no requirement that participating students take an assessment.
  • Businesses can receive a tax credit worth 100 percent of their donation to scholarship organizations.
  • The statewide aggregate amount that can awarded in tax credits for a given year increases by 10 percent each year.
  • Scholarship organizations cannot spend more than 5 percent of collected donations on administrative costs

Education Savings Accounts

Education Savings Account Program

  • *As of December 2016, implementation of the ESA program has been halted because of a state Supreme Court ruling that the program's funding source is unconstitutional.
  • Eligible students must meet one of the following criteria:
    • Have been enrolled in a public school for the preceding 100 days.
    • Under 7 years old
    • Be a child of an active duty military member.
  • Students with disabilities or students that qualify for the Free and Reduced Price Lunch program receive an ESA equal to the average per-pupil state funding allocation.
  • All other students receive an ESA equal to 90 percent of the average per-pupil state funding allocation.
  • There is no cap on the number of students that can receive an ESA.
  • Students are required to take either the state assessment or an alternative national norm-referenced assessment.
  • Unused ESA funds are transferred into a college savings account at the end of each year.

New Hampshire

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1996.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school boards.
    • State Board of Education.
  • Funding:
    • The state requires that 80 percent of allocated per-pupil funding follow a student to a locally approved charter school.
    • The state requires that all of the state’s per-pupil allocation follow a student to a state-approved charter school.
  • Facilities:
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.
    • Charter schools can access state school building aid in limited circumstances.

Magnet Schools

  • New Hampshire does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • School districts may designate certain schools as open enrollment schools. Districts may impose limits on the number of nonresident students who attend schools in and out of the district. Schools may limit enrollment in specific programs and may select on basis of aptitude, academic achievement or need.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Education Tax Credit Program
N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 77-G:1 through 10

  • Students are eligible if they are ages 5-20 and come from households where family income is less than 300 percent of the federal poverty line.
  • Participating private schools do not have to administer an assessment.
  • Businesses can receive a tax credit worth 100 percent of their donation to scholarship organizations.
  • Interest-and-dividends taxpayers can receive a tax credit worth 85%
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that the state can award in tax credits for a given year. If total claimed tax credits reaches 80 percent of the aggregate cap, then the cap automatically increases by 25 percent the following year.
  • Scholarship organizations can use 10 percent of contributions on administrative costs.

New Jersey

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1995.
  • Authorizers
    • The New Jersey Commissioner of Education.
  • Charter schools receive 90 percent of their resident school district’s per-pupil program budget for each respective grade the charter school serves.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • New Jersey allows districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment
Interdistrict Public School Choice Program

  • School districts can apply to the commissioner of education to become a choice district allowing students from outside the district to enroll at no cost to the parent. Once approved as a choice district, the district declares how many seats it has available for out-of-district students
  • Where space is available, any student who resides in New Jersey can enroll in a choice district school.

New Mexico

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1993.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school districts.
    • State Public Education Commission.
  • Funding:
    • Charter schools receive per-pupil funding similar to other public schools.
    • State-authorized charter schools can apply for all federal funds for which they are eligible.
    • District-authorized charter schools must be included in their district’s consolidated federal application.
    • District-authorized charter schools are allocated state and federal funding they qualify for based on the student populations served.
  • Facilities:
    • Charter schools receive per-pupil state funds to help with lease payments.
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.
    • Charter schools have access to tax-exempt debt from counties.
    • School districts are required to share local facilities funds with charter schools.
    • School districts must provide charter schools with available, unused district facilities.

Magnet Schools

  • New Mexico allows districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Students attending a low-performing school must be allowed to transfer to another school in the state.
  • When students are not transferring from low performing schools, boards of receiving school districts may admit nonresident students if space is available.

New York

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First passed a charter school law in 1998.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school districts, but only if converting an existing public school into a charter school.
    • SUNY Board of Trustees.
    • State Board of Regents.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive funding from the local school district, which is required to pass a proportional share of its per-pupil spending on school operations based on a funding formula.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools in New York City are entitled to facility space that is either co-located with an existing public school or in a private space at the expense of the school district and at no cost to the charter school.
    • Charter schools have access to state funding for facilities.
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a local or state facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • New York allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • New York has a voluntary "urban-suburban transfer program," which was designed to reduce racial isolation by allowing minority students to transfer in and out of participating urban and suburban school districts. Participating districts must provide policies about student participation for transferring students. Private school students must have an opportunity to participate in the program.

North Dakota

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • North Dakota does not have charter schools.

Magnet Schools

  • North Dakota does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • In North Dakota, school boards may decide to participate in open enrollment. If they decide to participate, the school board must establish policies for accepting or rejecting students.

Ohio

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • The first charter school law passed in 1997.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school districts.
    • Joint vocational school districts.
    • Education service centers.
    • Institutions of higher education.
    • Qualifying nonprofit organizations.
    • State Board of Education.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive primarily state funds but can also receive local funding from the district in which each student lives based on a state charter school funding formula.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools receive a state per-pupil allocation for facilities costs.
    • The state awards grant funds to high performing charter schools to cover facilities expenses.
    • Local school districts must offer unused facility space to charter schools to lease or purchase at a fair market price. New and high-performing charter schools get priority access to these facilities.
    • In some instances, high-quality charter authorizers may have access to local district mill levy funds.

Magnet Schools

  • Ohio allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • School districts can voluntarily accept students from other districts. Under limited circumstances, school districts are required to accept students from other districts.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

Cleveland Scholarship Program

  • All students living in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District are eligible for a voucher. Students with household incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline are given preference in receiving a voucher.
  • The maximum dollar value of a voucher is set in statute with a higher value for high school students.
  • Students with household incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline receive vouchers worth 90 percent of a school’s tuition but do not have to pay the remaining 10 percent.
  • Students with household incomes above 200 percent receive a voucher worth 75 percent of a school’s tuition and can be required by the school to pay the remaining 25 percent.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must be designated as a chartered nonpublic school under Ohio state law, which is a form of private school accreditation.
    • The state assessment must be administered to all voucher students.
    • Must accept all voucher applicants. If applicants exceed the school’s capacity, then they must be selected using a random lottery.

Educational Choice Scholarship Program

  • Eligible students must be enrolled in a low-performing school within their resident school district, or students entering kindergarten who would otherwise be assigned to a low-performing public school.
  • The maximum dollar value of a voucher is set in statute with a higher value for high school students.
  • Private schools cannot charge students with household incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline any tuition in excess of the voucher.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must be designated as a chartered nonpublic school under Ohio state law, which is a form of private school accreditation.
    • The state assessment must be administered to all voucher students.

EdChoice Expansion Scholarship Program

  • Eligible students must be entering grades K-3 with household incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty guideline. Priority is given to students with household incomes below 200 percent of the poverty guideline.
  • If a participating student’s household income exceeds 400 percent of the poverty guideline after previously receiving a voucher, they will no longer be eligible to participate in this program.
  • The maximum dollar value of a voucher is set in statute. Students with household incomes between 200 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty guideline receive a smaller voucher.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must be designated as a chartered nonpublic school under Ohio state law, which is a form of private school accreditation.
    • The state assessment must be administered to all voucher students.

Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program

  • Eligible students must have an established Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • Participation is capped at 5 percent of all students with disabilities statewide.
  •  The maximum value of a voucher is equal to what a student’s resident school district would have received in state funding for that student with a $27,000 maximum.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students:
    • The state assessment must be administered to all participating unless they are excused from assessments under their IEP.
    • Must implement the child’s IEP and report progress to the student’s resident school district.
    • Must employ staff with credentials appropriate for the special education services they are providing.

Autism Scholarship Program

  • Eligible students must be at least 3 years old, have been diagnosed with autism and have an established IEP.
  • Parents can claim reimbursements for up to $27,000 in tuition costs and certain additional expenses related to the child’s education.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students:
    • Must be approved by the state to accept participating students.
    • Must implement the child’s IEP and report progress to the student’s resident school district.
    • Must employ staff with credentials appropriate for the special education services they are providing.

Oklahoma

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1999.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school districts.
    • Institutions of higher education in counties with a population of 400,000 or more.
    • Qualifying Indian tribes.
    • State Board of Education under specific conditions.
    • Statewide Virtual Charter School Board.
    • Funding: Charter schools receive funding from the state aid formula similar to other public schools. They do not receive local funds.
  • Facilities:
    • The state offers various facilities grants for which qualifying charter schools can apply.
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt financing for facilities through the state public facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • Oklahoma allows districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students can attend a school outside their resident school district if the receiving district approves the transfer.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

  • Students are eligible for a voucher if they have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and have attended public school in Oklahoma for at least one year. Some students can seek approval to have the prior year public school attendance waived.
  • A student can receive a voucher worth up to the amount of local and state per-pupil funding that would have been spent on that student in their local school district.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Receive accreditation by the state or an approved accrediting agency.
    • Be in operation for at least one year.
    • Verify that the school is financially sustainable without the voucher program.

Scholarship Tax Credits

Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarships

  • Students are eligible if they have a household income up to 300 percent of the Free and Reduced Price Lunch program or if they live in the attendance zone of a low-performing school.
  • There is no requirement that participating students take an assessment.
  • Individuals and businesses receive a tax credit worth 50 percent of their donation to a scholarship organization. If a donor pledges to make donations for three consecutive years then they receive a 75 percent tax credit.
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that can awarded in tax credits for a given year.
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 90 percent of all donations on student scholarships.

Oregon

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1999.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school districts.
    • State Board of Education and institutions of higher education can serve as authorizers if a charter applicant has already been denied by a local district.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive funding equal to 80 percent of the weighted Average Daily Maintenance funding formula for students in grades K-8 and 95 percent of formula for students in grades 9-12.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds through a state facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • Oregon does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • School districts can voluntarily establish student transfer agreements with other districts allowing students to attend a school outside their resident district.

Pennsylvania

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1997.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school districts.
    • Pennsylvania Department of Education (virtual charters only).
  • Funding: Charters receive the average per-pupil expenditure of the district in which the school is located.
  • Facilities:
    • The state offers per-pupil facilities funding in the form of a reimbursement for lease payments for a qualifying building.
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds through a state facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • Pennsylvania allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students can attend a school outside their resident district if it is approved by the receiving district.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program

  • Eligible students must meet both of the following criteria:
    • Have a household income below the statutory income limit.
    • Live in the attendance zone and otherwise be assigned to attend one of the lowest 15 percent achieving schools in the state.
  • Businesses can claim a tax credit worth 75 percent of their contribution to a scholarship organization, 90 percent if they commit to donate at least two consecutive years.
  • Statute defines a specific dollar amount that each business can claim in a tax credit for a given year.
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that the state can award in tax credits for a given year.
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 80 percent of all donations on student scholarships.
  • Participating private schools are not required to administer an assessment.

Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program

  • Eligible students must have a household income less than the statutory income limit.
  • Businesses can claim a tax credit for contributions to scholarship organizations, pre-K scholarship organizations and qualifying public school improvement organizations.
  • Statute defines a specific dollar amount that each business can claim in a tax credit for a given year.
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that the state can award in tax credits for a given year.
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 80 percent of all donations on student scholarships.
  • Participating private schools are not required to administer an assessment.

Rhode Island

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1995.
  • Authorizers
    • The State Board of Education is the sole charter authorizer in the state. Before authorizing a new charter school, however, the state board must get approval from either the local school district where the charter will be located for from the state commissioner of elementary and secondary education.
  • Funding: charter schools are funded similarly to traditional public schools with access to local, state and federal funds.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds through a state facilities authority.
    • School districts can apply for a reimbursement from the state for costs associated with charter school facilities costs.

Magnet Schools

  • Rhode Island does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Rhode Island law allows districts to choose whether they want to allow open enrollment within their district as well as accepting students from outside the district.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations
CHAPTER 44-62 Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations

  • To be eligible, students must have family incomes at or below 250 percent of the poverty level
  • There is no testing requirement for participating students.
  • Businesses can receive a tax credit worth 75 percent of their contribution to a scholarship organization. The credit is worth 90 percent if the business donates for two consecutive years and the second year’s donation is worth at least 80 percent of the first year’s donation. Each corporate donor can receive maximum of $100,000 in tax credits each year and cannot use surplus donations in one year to generate tax credits in future years.
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that the state can award in tax credits for a given year.
  • Scholarship organizations must use at least 90 percent of contributions for scholarships.

South Carolina

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1996.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school districts.
    • Institutions of higher education.
    • The South Carolina Public Charter School District.
  • Funding: Charter schools authorized by school districts receive state and local funds from the school district. Nonlocal district charters only receive state funds but receive extra funding to make up for the lack of local funds.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools can apply for loans from a state loan program.
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds through a state facilities authority.
    • School districts must give charter schools within their district the first opportunity to lease or purchase vacant buildings before they are placed on the market for sale.

Magnet Schools

  • South Carolina allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Students can attend a school outside their resident district when that school is closer to their home than their assigned school, and if it is approved by both the sending and receiving districts.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children

  • Students with disabilities are eligible to participate.
  • Taxpayers can claim a tax credit worth 100 percent of their donation to a scholarship organization.
  • The credit cannot exceed 60 percent of the donor’s total tax liability
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that the state can award in tax credits for a given year.
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 95 percent of all donations on student scholarships.
  • Participating private schools are required to administer either the state assessment or an approved alternative assessment to students receiving scholarships.

South Dakota

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • South Dakota does not have charter schools.

Magnet Schools

  • South Dakota does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • South Dakota law allows students to apply to enrollment within and outside of their resident districts. Local school boards must create standards for accepting and rejecting student applications, and the standards may only address the capacity of a program, class, grade level or school building.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Partners in Education Tax Credit Program
CHAPTER 13-65

  • Students are eligible if they live in families with incomes up to, but not exceeding, 150 percent of the federal free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) program and meet one of the following requirements:
    • Attended a public school the preceding semester.
    • Are starting at a K–12 school in South Dakota for the first time.
    • Are entering kindergarten, first grade or ninth grade.
  • Once a student has received a scholarship, that student remains eligible for three years or, if the student is entering high school, until high school graduation regardless of income. After the initial period of income eligibility, scholarship students remain eligible if their family income in the prior year does not exceed 200 percent of the FRL program.
  • Participating students are required to take either the state assessment or an approved national alternative assessment. Parents decide which assessment their child will take.
  • Insurance companies can receive a tax credit worth 80 percent of their donation to qualifying scholarship organizations.
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that the state can award in tax credits for a given year.
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 90 percent of all donations on student scholarships.

Tennessee

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 2002.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school districts.
    • State Board of Education.
    • Achievement School District.
  • Funding:
    • Charter schools authorized by local districts and the ASD receive per-pupil funding from the local school district at the same rate as the district’s per-pupil funding level.
    • For charters authorized by the state board of education, the local school district pays the charters local share of funding to the state in an amount that is equal to the district’s per-pupil funding level. The state then transfers those funds plus the state share to the charter school.
  • Facilities:
    • Charter schools receive per-pupil funding from the state for facilities.
    • School districts must make vacant buildings available to charter schools located within their district boundaries.
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds through a state facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • Tennessee allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • School districts have the option to allow parents to choose any school within the district.
  • Parents can choose to enroll their child in a school outside their resident district if the receiving district approves the transfer and it occurs more than two weeks prior to the start of the school year. After that point, parents must also get approval from their resident school district.

State Turnaround District

  • The Achievement School District (ASD) was created in 2012.
  • Schools that rank in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state according to the state school accountability system can be taken over by the ASD.

Private School Choice

Education Savings Accounts

Individualized Education Account

  • To be eligible, a student must have an active Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and be diagnosed with a qualifying disability.
  • Students must also either be entering kindergarten or have attended a public school the previous two semesters.
  • Each ESA is worth the same per-pupil amount the student’s local school district would have received in state and local funds for that student.
  • There is no cap on the number of eligible students that can participate.
  • Participating students must be administered either the state assessment or an approved alternative assessment.
  • Parents can transfer unused funds into a federal Coverdell Education Savings Account.

Texas

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1995.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school boards.
    • State commissioner of education. These schools are called open-enrollment charter schools.
  • Funding:
    • Open-enrollment charter schools are entitled to the same funds as school districts in the form of grants or other discretionary funding unless statute says otherwise.
    • District-authorized charter schools receive funding from the district.
  • Facilities:
    • Open-enrollment charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.
    • Open-enrollment charter schools can apply to have their bonds guaranteed by the Permanent School Fund.
    • The state has a credit enhancement program to provide financial backing to charter school debt.
    • Local school boards must give open-enrollment charters within the boundaries of the district the option to use the districts’ unused or underused district facilities.

Magnet Schools

  • Texas allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • School districts must grant a parent's request to transfer a student to another school within the district unless there is reasonable basis for denying the request. Students are allowed to transfer out of a resident district if the receiving district and parents agree. School districts may also enter into transfer agreements.

Utah

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1998.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school boards.
    • State charter school board.
    • Designated higher education institutions.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive funding from local school districts. Utah law also provides that charter schools are eligible to receive federal funds contingent on compliance to federal regulation. Charter schools also receive state funding on a per-pupil basis.
  • Facilities:
    • Charter schools are required to use at least 10 percent of their state per-pupil funding on facilities costs.
    • Charter schools can apply for low-interest loans from the state for facilities projects.
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.
    • A state credit enhancement program assists qualified charter schools in obtaining more favorable financing from private sources.

Magnet Schools

  • Utah allows districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Students are allowed to attend any public school in the state with capacity to accept students. Utah requires all local school boards to post each school's open enrollment capacity information on the district's website.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers

Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program
Utah Code 53A-1a-701 through 710

  • To be eligible for the program, students must have a qualifying disability, have an Individualized Education Program (IEP), and must have been enrolled in public school the previous year.
  • Current private school students can become eligible without enrolling in public school if an assessment team determines they have a qualifying disability and their current private school has been providing special education services.
  • The size of the voucher cannot be more than the private school’s tuition and fees. Amounts are are based on the state’s weighted pupil unit, and the amounts vary based on how many hours of special education services the student receives per day
  • An assessment team reviews all participating students to determine the appropriate level of services the student shall receive from the private school based on the student’s disabilities.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must apply to the state for approval to accept voucher students.
    • Must provide the state with proof of the school’s financial stability.
    • Must administer an annual assessment of each participating student and report the results to the student’s parents and the student’s assessment team.

Vermont

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • Vermont does not have charter schools.

Magnet Schools

  • Vermont does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Vermont has mandatory open enrollment for high schools. All districts with high schools must enter into an agreement with at least one other district to form a school choice region. With certain limitations, students are free to enroll in any high school in the school choice region. Local boards of education may set guidelines that include limits based on the capacity of the program, class and building and the financial impact.

Private School Choice

School Vouchers
Town Tuitioning Program
16 V.S.A. §§ 821-836

  • To be eligible, students must live in a district that does not operate either an elementary school or a high school, and where the voters of the district have approved the use of public funds for private school tuition.
  • The voucher is worth up to the average announced tuition for Vermont public schools, calculated each year by the state, or the private school’s tuition (whichever is less).
  • Students are not required to take an assessment.
  • The voucher cannot be used at religious schools.

Virginia

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1995.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school boards.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive funding from local school boards. State law also requires that charter schools receive federal and state categorical funding based on the student populations served.
  • Facilities:
    • Charters can apply for tax-exempt bonds from a state facilities authority.

Magnet Schools

  • Virginia allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Virginia law allows school districts to choose whether to allow students to transfer to another school within their resident school district.

Private School Choice

Scholarship Tax Credits

Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program
Code of Va. §§ 58.1-439.25-28

  • To be eligible, students must be entering kindergarten or first grade, be a new resident to Virginia, or otherwise have been enrolled in public school the prior year. Students must also meet one of the following criteria:
    • Have a household income of no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty line.
    • Be a student with a disability and have a household income of no more than 400 percent of the federal poverty line.
  • Students must take an approved national norm-referenced assessment
  • Individuals and businesses can receive a tax credit worth 65 percent of their donation to a scholarship organization.
  • State statute sets the aggregate amount that the state can award in tax credits for a given year.
  • Scholarship organizations must spend at least 90 percent of all donations on student scholarships.

Washington

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law enacted in 2012 through a citizen-initiated ballot measure.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school districts upon the approval of the State Board of Education.
    • Washington State Charter School Commission.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive per-pupil funding through a separate state cash fund. The Washington Supreme Court ruled that charter schools cannot receive funds from the public school funding formula.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools have the right of first refusal to purchase or lease any unused school district facilities.
    • Conversion charter schools can continue using the same facility at no charge other than routine facility maintenance costs.
    • State statute gives charter schools access to state common school facilities funding. The state Supreme Court ruling makes it unclear whether charter schools will be eligible for those funds.

Magnet Schools

  • Washington does not have magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Parents can enroll their child in any school within their resident school district.
  • School districts must establish a standard process for evaluating applications from students outside the district boundaries. The state encourages districts to accept students outside the district but does not require it.

West Virginia

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • West Virginia does not have charter schools.

Magnet Schools

  • West Virginia does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • School districts can choose whether to participate in open enrollment.

Wisconsin

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1993.
  • Authorizers
    • Local school districts.
    • City of Milwaukee.
    • Various higher education institutions.
    • County Executive of Waukesha County.
  • Funding:
    • School districts are responsible for establishing funding levels for the charter schools that they authorize.
    • The state establishes a per-pupil funding amount for all nondistrict charter schools that automatically adjusts based on changes in overall state education funding.
  • Facilities
    • Charter schools can apply for tax-exempt bonds through a state facilities authority.
    • Milwaukee Public Schools must give charter schools a preference when selling vacant district buildings.

Magnet Schools

  • Wisconsin allows school districts to operate magnet schools.

Open Enrollment

  • Parents must get approval from their resident school district to attend a school within the same district but outside their assigned public school.
  • All school districts must have policies for accepting out-of-district students but can limit the number of students they accept based on a number of different factors.

Private School Choice

Vouchers

Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

  • Eligible students must live in the Milwaukee Public Schools district and have a household income of no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline.
  • The maximum value of a voucher is automatically adjusted each year based on the change in state public school funding.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must administer the state assessment to voucher students in certain grades.
    • Must allow voucher students to opt out of religious programs and activities.
    • Teachers must be licensed or have a bachelor’s degree.
    • Cannot reject applicants for any reason other than lack of space. Schools must hold a random lottery if the number applicants exceeds the number of seats available.
    • Schools cannot charge any tuition on top of the voucher for students in grades K-8, or for students in grades 9-12 with household incomes up to 220 percent of the poverty guideline

Racine Parental Private School Choice Program

  • Eligible students must live in the Racine Unified School District and have a household income of no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline. Nonvoucher students currently enrolled in private school are not eligible.
  • The maximum value of a voucher is automatically adjusted each year based on the change in state public school funding.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must administer the state assessment to voucher students in certain grades.
    • Must allow voucher students to opt out of religious programs and activities.
    • Teachers must be licensed or have a bachelor’s degree.
    • Cannot reject applicants for any reason other than lack of space. Schools must hold a random lottery if the number applicants exceeds the number of seats available.
    • Schools cannot charge any tuition on top of the voucher for students in grades K-8, or for students in grades 9-12 with household incomes up to 220 percent of the poverty guideline.

Parental Choice Program (statewide)

  • Eligible students must live outside Milwaukee and Racine and qualify for the Free and Reduced Price Lunch program.
  • Participation within each school district is capped at 1 percent of that district’s total enrollment. This cap grows by 1 percent each year beginning in 2017 with a total cap of 10 percent of a district’s enrollment.
  • The maximum value of a voucher is automatically adjusted each year based on the change in state public school funding.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must administer the state assessment to voucher students in certain grades.
    • Must allow voucher students to opt out of religious programs and activities.
    • Teachers must be licensed or have a bachelor’s degree.

Special Needs Scholarship Program

  • Eligible students must have an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) and must have attended public school the prior year.
  • The maximum value of a voucher is automatically adjusted each year based on the change in state public school funding.
  • The following are some of the standards that participating private schools must meet to accept voucher students (see statute for full list):
    • Must implement the student’s public school IEP and report to the student’s resident school district on the student’s progress.
    • Teachers must be licensed or have a bachelor’s degree.
    • Provide prospective students with information about the special education services the school offers.

Wyoming

Public School Choice

Charter Schools

  • First charter school law passed in 1995.
  • Authorizers:
    • Local school districts.
  • Funding: Charter schools receive per-pupil funding similar to all public schools. Charter schools also receive maintenance funding from the state. 
  • Facilities
    • A charter school operating in a school district-owned facility receives a proportionate share of the district’s maintenance funding.
    • School districts cannot charge charter schools rent for use of district-owned facilities.

Magnet Schools

  • Wyoming does not have magnet schools.

Open enrollment

  • Schools districts can choose to allow open enrollment within the district. They can also accept any student from another district if they choose, but this is not required.