There has been a lot of growth in educational opportunities in America lately, and more families and students than ever are actively choosing educational settings that are best for them—be it sending them to their assigned district school or opting for something different.
This series coins the term Educational Choice Share (or EdChoice Share) to help assign a ranking value to states, with highest-ranked states being those with the highest proportions of K–12 students enrolled in an education savings account (ESA), school voucher, tax-credit ESA or tax-credit scholarship program. States without programs are ranked from those with the highest shares of students outside of a traditional public school to those with the least.
To get the numbers for private educational program calculations, EdChoice divides the total number of a state’s educational choice program participants by the total number of K–12 students in the state, regardless of schooling sector. Not all data are reported for the most recent school year, so carry-forward data are used for programs or sectors that don’t yet have 2022–23 data.
This post also provides a state-by-state breakdown of traditional public school share (segmented by residential district and inter-district when available), magnet school share, charter school share, homeschool share and “out of pocket” private school share—which we describe as “by other means” or “Other Private School Share.”
The public school data reflect the 2021–22 school year. The private school enrollment data are for 2019–20 and homeschooler estimates are for 2018–19 for some states and are more up-to-date for others, thanks to state-level data sent to us by Angela Watson of Johns Hopkins University
Why do we care about this?
Data from our 2022 national poll shows American parents are not able to access the types of schools they would prefer for their children.
As some states have been finding ways to better serve students and their families, their numbers are beginning to look more and more like the chart above.
New in 2023
For this year’s edition, we separated out magnet schools from traditional public schools in order to drill further down into how many students are choosing the educational environment that they deem the best for themselves (or their families do).
We also started the herculean effort of collecting historical inter- and intra-district enrollment data for the states where such choices are available.
In order to provide a visual representation of this growth in educational opportunities, we have created charts on a state-by-state basis which include enrollment data from 2001-02 through 2022-23. These charts will be routinely updated as data becomes available, including when inter-district choice data is available for all of the states that allow it (sorry residents of Illinois and North Carolina, your states don’t allow students to cross district lines) and add another column to the table. It’s less likely data for intra-district choice (sans magnet) will be available based on initial efforts to gather this.
CAVEATS: Our data are only as good as what is made available, and in many cases, the data are incomplete and imperfect. And even if we were able to perfectly segment all the K-12 students in America, it still would not be a complete picture of all of the ways K-12 students are educated in America. For instance, we are missing counts of hybrid homeschoolers and microschoolers. Some states and some schools differ in their classification of microschool students. For example, we recently learned at the International School Choice and Reform Conference that there is a microschool in Georgia where the K-8 students are counted by the state as homeschoolers and the students in grades 9-12 are counted by the state as private school students.
We also are unable to capture counts of families who choose to move into a specific school district so their student could attend a specific public school versus those for whom that option is not affordable. In order to have a positive enrollment count of other private school students in Arizona, we had to assume that 47.5 percent of tax-credit scholarships went to multi-year scholarship students and used NCES’s standard error to create an upper bound of their private school enrollment estimate in order not to have any years of negative enrollment for the Other Private School segment. Additionally, even though we have current school year homeschooling data for some states, we were forced to use carryforward data for others so we did not capture any increase in homeschooling in those states at this time.
BONUS: All of the data are now downloadable!
On a national level, based on most recent data:
- 1.2 percent of students are utilizing an educational choice program
- 7.4 percent attend private school by other means
- 76.5 percent attend a traditional public school
- 5.1 percent attend a magnet school
- 6.8 percent attend a charter school, and
- 3.0 percent are homeschooled.
On a state level (click state name to skip to its chart – best done on computer in full screen):
Additional Notes: U.S. territories were not included in these calculations, nor were data on individual tax credit or deduction programs, unless it was a refundable credit (such as Alabama’s Parent Taxpayer Refundable Tax Credits), which is why Minnesota’s EdChoice Share is Not Available.
Please, play with the table and charts. Sort by column and make different rankings. Download and segment the data differently. Email us and get the raw enrollment data for your own research.
We hope you enjoy!