What is 'school choice' and what are my options?

School choice means that parents have the freedom to choose a school that they know will work best for their child. 

School choice looks different across Indiana. In urban communities, parents may choose a public charter school, traditional public school, or private school. 

In more rural areas, many parents are most familiar with their traditional public school district. However, other school options like virtual school or homeschooling can occur in every community. Whatever the case may be, at the Institute for Quality Education we believe parents should be empowered with good information about the school options in their community. 

Armed with this information, parents can then exercise their right to choose a school for their child. Whether the choice is a traditional public, public charter, private, virtual or homeschool is far less important than the quality of education the student receives. 

Use this information as a tool to help you review your K-12 options and then find a school that best fits the needs of your child where you live. Our interactive map is powered by our partners at GreatSchools, a national nonprofit that features a website where millions of families find information about their local schools. 


Questions about your school choice options? Contact your regional outreach coordinator, here

Traditional Public

A traditional public school is maintained by the public for the education of the children of a community or district.

Traditional public schools are available in neighborhoods and communities throughout Indiana. 

Transfer programs are available, which allow students to transfer to another public school within their district or a different school district entirely. 

Every local school board decides whether or not the school corporation will  accept students that live outside of the district. HB 1381, effective July 1, 2013, outlines the requirements for school corporations that have decided to accept students that live outside of the district boundaries. However, fees and restrictions due to capacity may apply and transportation may not be provided. Currently, 265 public school districts accept students that live outside of their district with 34,931 students participating statewide. 

If you are interested in transferring to a public school other than the school your family is assigned to based on where you live, contact the public school district of interest to see if they accept transfers and how to apply. 

For a list of school corporations that do accept students living out side of their district, visit this page

Private Schools

A private school is a supported by a private organization or private individuals rather than by the government.

Private schools are created and operated by private groups, and often focus on a set of core values or beliefs. Some private schools have religious affiliations. Private schools use selective admissions processes and charge tuition to attend. Most private schools in Indiana are accredited by the state or other accrediting agency.

Indiana offers families three private school choice programs: school vouchers, tax credit scholarships and the individual tax deduction.

Further questions about these school choice programs? Refer to our FAQ section, or contact us

Charter Schools

A charter school is a free, public school where a student is not required to reside in any given area or district in order to attend.

Charter schools are a type of public school and open to any student, regardless of where they live. Just like traditional public schools, charter schools are free. They were created to provide students and families with unique and innovative approaches to learning. Charter schools are exempt from some state regulations and they have more flexibility than traditional public schools. In exchange, charters have high accountability standards and may lose their ability to operate at any time if they are not meeting the expectations of their authorizing organization.

There are more than 70 charter schools throughout the state of Indiana serving approximately 37,000 students. More information on charter schools may be found at http://www.in.gov/icsb/.

Magnet Schools

Public schools with focused courses or curricula.

Magnet schools are public schools within a district that offer focused content for students. These “magnets” attract students who are interested in topics such as performing arts, math, science, humanities and visual arts, business and financial studies, and international studies.

Virtual Schools

A virtual school option is a free, public school that teaches students K-12 through the internet.

A virtual school is a public school option that teaches through online methods. This is a free option for families. Virtual schools are accredited and available to students in grades K-12.

Career and Technical Education

Career and Technical Education provides high school students with the opportunity to enhance their high school curricula and specialize in the skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation.

Indiana offers 49 Area Career Centers aimed at providing high school students with marketable and transferable skills for post-secondary education and advanced technical training.

Each center offers programs in career development and technical education to enhance the high school curricula. Most programs are designed for juniors and seniors in high school. Area Career Center’s are any type of student, graduates of career centers have gone on to earn bachelor degrees, associate degrees, advanced technical certification and/or full-time employment. Programs also offer dual college credit and certifications from a number of college and universities.

See your home high school guidance counselor to understand admission requirements and to enroll in an Area Career Center. Transportation is often provided between your home high school and the Area Career Center.  And additional fees or equipment cost varies by program, assistance may be available by contacting your guidance counselor.

Contact your Area Career Center or your home high school counselor to learn more about this opportunity. 

For a complete list of the Area Career Centers, click here.


Homeschooling takes place outside of the public or private school environment and is usually directed by parents or tutors.

Parents can choose to elect out of public or private schools and educate their children in their own homes. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but each state has its own statutes and regulations governing the practice.

For more information on homeschooling in Indiana, visit the Indiana Association of Home Educators

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