The 2024 EdChoice Yearbook Superlatives

In the Year of Universal Choice, how did individual states, programs rank?

2023 was a historic year for educational freedom for families. Not only did seven states enact new choice programs, another 12 states expanded ones already in operation. Setting a record, eight states joined Arizona and West Virginia in offering all or nearly all students choice, making 2023 the Year of Universal Choice.

This marks incredible progress toward creating educational choice for all as parents and policymakers embrace the idea first presented by Milton Friedman that learning can happen anywhere—whether within the walls of traditional classrooms, the limitless framework of microschools, the digital realm of home-based learning, or the still-to-be created territories of innovative educational environments.

Now, as we step into 2024, the EdChoice team invites you to embark on a journey through time and relive the extraordinary highlights of 2023 in our EdChoice Yearbook Superlatives. What better time to do so than at the start of National School Choice Week, when we celebrate the most remarkable victories and invaluable lessons that have illuminated the path of the educational choice movement.

Which states came out on top? Which state surprised us? Which states demanded new categories? And which state has the most promise for passing the eleventh universal choice program? Dive in to find out.

Most Choice-y States

Florida and Washington, D.C.

While some students without a doubt excel within their designated district schools, at EdChoice, we place great importance on monitoring the collective proportion of students who opt for educational avenues beyond the traditional system. We refer to this as the EdChoice Share. EdChoice Share is a metric that provides insight into the percentage of families in a state who are making alternative choices for education. This encompasses selecting charter schools or virtual schools, opting for public schools outside their assigned district, embracing home-based learning, participating in publicly funded school choice programs, or independently financing private education. Simply put, the EdChoice Share is the number that shows us where families are really taking advantage of systems of educational choice.

When it comes to private educational choice share—meaning the state that has the largest share of students choosing a non-public school option through a program like education savings accounts, vouchers or tax-credit scholarships—Florida wins this year’s contest at 10.3%, up from 6.6% last year. This means about 1 in 10 Florida students who don’t attend their assigned district school do so through a private-school choice program choice option.

Arizona deserves an honorable mention, coming in at a close second with 9%.

When it comes to overall EdChoice share—we measure the state with the highest total percentage of students choosing educational settings other than their assigned district school which includes, charter and magnet schools, private schools, and homeschooling, through or without a choice program.

This year’s winner is the District of Columbia. Though not a state, D.C. wins this category by a long shot, with 52% of students attending a school outside their zip-code assigned location.

Notably, more D.C. students attend charter schools than attend traditional district schools.

When it comes to states, Florida is the leader, with roughly 48% of students using educational choice options instead of their assigned district school—19% attend magnet schools; 11% attend charters; 10% use a private-school choice program (ESAs, vouchers, or tax credit scholarships); 5% homeschool; and 2% attend private school by other means.

To see how choice-y your state is by the numbers, check out our latest EdChoice share rankings.

Most Empowering Program

Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

To determine the educational choice program that empowers families most, our team weighed three major criteria: purchasing power, funding stream stability and the ability of parents to use their funds flexibly. Education savings accounts (ESAs) almost always win this category because of parents’ ability to use funds how they see fit for their child, within the rules of the program.

Arizona’s ESA program continues to be the most empowering because it is now the most expansive program in the nation. The bar for universal student access to educational opportunity has been set for other states to follow.

Every K-12 Arizona student is eligible to receive an ESA, along with pre-K students with disabilities. The program serves all students including foster kids, Native Americans on reservations, and the children of active-duty military personnel. It also allows higher funding amounts for students with special needs, which further empowers families to afford the right educational services for their children.

State estimates project that typical ESA students will receive about $7,000 annually as of 2022-2023, but students with special needs receive significantly more. Funding amounts vary based on the types of special needs.

As with any emerging sector, a seamless user experience is ideal, and is becoming perfected over time. Arizona is still tackling the challenge of making ESA purchases as easy as possible for parents. As this year’s winner, we look to Arizona to be the national leader not only in terms of pure purchasing power, but also by empowering parents to conduct transactions quickly and easily.

Most Well-Rounded Program

Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

To determine our winner for this category, we always weigh three specific criteria: eligibility, guaranteed funding, and flexibility. Arizona’s ESA continues to take the most well-rounded program category as 100 percent of students are eligible, and funding is guaranteed to any eligible student. Arizona continues to be the least regulated, most securely funded, and most flexible program.

An honorable mention goes to Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program which was enacted in 2023. Arkansas replaces last year’s winner, West Virginia, as an honorable mention because Arkansas doesn’t have a prior public requirement as West Virginia does. Arkansas’ CEFA program will have 100% eligibility by 2025 and will empower families with the freedom and broad flexibility to customize their child’s education. However, Arkansas’ ESA does have some regulations around reporting, testing, and tuition price controls.

Most Popular

New Hampshire’s Education Freedom Account Program

Our researchers determine the most popular program winner each year by calculating which saw the largest percentage growth in participation.

New Hampshire’s Education Freedom Account Program grew by a whopping 58% in the past year—from 3,025 scholarships awarded in 2023 to 4,770 scholarships awarded in 2024.

Tying for second place in this category are Indiana’s School Scholarship Tax Credit and South Dakota’s Partners in Education Tax Credit, which grew by 31% and 30% respectively.

Most Improved

It’s a four-way tie!

2023 was an unprecedented year for universal choice, with four states expanding existing choice programs to allow all students to participate. Among the states to broaden programs already in operation were Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio.

With the expansion of these programs and the addition of four new universal choice programs in 2023, approximately 20 million students—or 36%—nationwide are eligible for a private choice program.

Biggest Legal Win

New Hampshire: Howes v. Edelblut

The Superior Court of Merrimack, New Hampshire, ruled against a state constitutional challenge to New Hampshire’s newest advancement in educational freedom—an ESA called Education Freedom Accounts. The challenge in Howes v. Edelblut threatened to eliminate funding for this innovative program now serving over 4,700 children.

Plaintiffs alleged that funding the ESA with money from the Education Trust Fund, which includes lottery funds restricted for use by public schools only, is unconstitutional—even though lottery funds comprise less than 11% of money allocated to the Education Trust Fund and funding for the first and second years of the program were less than .08% of money in the Fund. Plaintiff’s argument that the legislature unlawfully delegated operation of the program to a third party without oversight was also rejected by the Court.

“The ruling of the Superior Court was substantive and conclusive, leading plaintiffs to decline appeal of this ruling,” said EdChoice Vice President of Legal Affairs Leslie Hiner. “It was a big stretch to find something to challenge about New Hampshire’s ESA. Legislators respected their state constitution as they developed the law, and those implementing the program are both disciplined and transparent, focused on meeting the needs of the families they serve. This is great news for parents, who now have an outstanding educational opportunity for their children that they can trust. New Hampshire provides an excellent model for other states!”

Biggest Legal Challenge

Wisconsin lawsuits

Some say that no good deed goes unpunished, and this was true in Wisconsin.

Despite overwhelming support for the state’s voucher programs, a lawsuit was filed to eliminate the programs, including the nation’s first voucher that has been serving children’s educational needs since 1990.

After 33 years of success, a lawsuit was filed directly with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, alleging financial harm to public schools. The court wisely rejected that lawsuit without comment. Almost 55,000 children would have lost access to vouchers that allow them to attend schools of their families’ choosing. Sadly, the plaintiffs who failed in court promise to try again in 2024, beginning at a trial court, despite the fact that the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that vouchers are constitutional in a solid 1998 decision. Gov. Tony Evers, who is not a proponent of vouchers, nonetheless understands the historic nature of Wisconsin’s program. He opposes the litigation, saying that its impact on families would be “traumatic.”

In the words of EdChoice Vice President of Legal Affairs Leslie Hiner, “Litigation after all these years is offensive to families who need vouchers to access the educational opportunities their children need.”

Most Inspiring

Arkansas pairs choice with public-school funding

While ten states now have universal or near-universal private school choice through various mechanisms like education savings accounts, vouchers, or tax credits, Arkansas stands out with its innovative Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program.

Arkansas’s LEARNS Act, signed into law by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, created the Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program. It allows students to access an education savings account funded with 90% of the state’s foundation funding, which exceeded $7,300 for the 2022-23 school year. The inspiring nature of this program lies in its flexibility, enabling students to utilize ESA funds for a wide range of educational purposes, including private school tuition, supplemental materials, tutoring, and more. Its gradual eligibility expansion plan, starting with traditionally disadvantaged groups, will result in universal eligibility by the 2025-26 school year.

Arkansas’ program is truly outstanding in its holistic approach. The LEARNS Act didn’t solely focus on school choice but also addressed other critical aspects of education. It included substantial raises for Arkansas public school teachers, investments in improving literacy, and ensured 12 weeks of paid maternity leave for public school personnel. This multifaceted approach highlights that educational choice can coexist with efforts to enhance traditional public schools and support educators.

Most Innovative Program

Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit

New this year is recognition for the most innovative program. Oklahoma’s new Parental Choice Tax Credit Act is the nation’s first universal, refundable tax credit for educational choice. Participating families are eligible to receive tax credits ranging from $1,000 to $7,500 based on financial need and use.

Refundable tax credits in Alabama, Minnesota, and South Carolina are good, but have not proven to be substantial choice vehicles. Oklahoma’s refundable tax credits are the first of their kind due to their universal eligibility, coupled with substantial awards (up to $7,500), giving parents enough purchasing power to have meaningful educational freedom for their kids.

The program allows families the flexibility of applying for the credit in advance, prioritizing low-income families, and stacking with the state’s two other choice programs, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship and the Equal Opportunities Scholarship.

Families who educate at home are eligible to receive up to $1,000 per child by claiming the credit on their annual tax return with receipts for qualified expenses. Families of students in private schools may apply for and receive award amounts between $5,000 and $7,500 based upon income levels. The program is expected to launch for the 2024-2025 school year, and whether it will live up to expectations depends heavily on implementation (read more on that below).

Most Effective Implementation

New Hampshire: Educational Freedom Accounts

New Hampshire’s Education Freedom Account (EFA) program is overseen by Kate Baker Demers and her team at Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF). Though the program doubled its participation from 2022 to 2023, CSF has managed to successfully provide parents and vendors flexibility and a positive choice experience while preserving the highest level of program accountability and integrity.

Consistent with New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” motto, the state takes an independent approach to education savings account implementation, which is different from most ESA states. Instead of administering the program through a state department/agency, the Granite State goes through an independent, non-governmental organization, allowing for a far less bureaucratic and far more efficient process.

CSF’s success can be attributed to two main pillars. First, its commitment to reviewing each transaction in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Education ensures maximum safeguards against waste, fraud, and misuse of funds. Second, open communication with parents and vendors secures timely payments to all stakeholders.

While reviewing every single transaction may be more challenging in larger states, it’s clear that New Hampshire’s success in implementing its expansive Education Freedom Account program is a model for states across the nation.

Biggest Implementation Flop

Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit

While we applaud the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit program for its innovative nature and promise, whether it will live up to expectations is yet to be seen. The program is set to be administered by the Oklahoma Tax Commission, an agency that had significant challenges with creating the rules to implement the program. Consequently, rules adopted by the commission are not well aligned with the statute’s goal of providing an easy-to-use system for parents and lack a feasible structure for long-term sustainability.

Given the exceptional nature of this refundable tax credit, which provides substantial education funding available to all parents, we expect that Oklahoma’s legislature will provide guidance to the tax commission on ways to improve implementation.

Most Unexpected

Wisconsin Governor increases choice funding

Gov. Tony Evers has made no secret of the fact that he opposes school choice in all its forms, going on record stating that expanding Wisconsin’s voucher program would be “morally wrong.” He’s made numerous other comments indicating a desire to fund public schools but not educational options for families.

Yet, in June, Evers agreed to increase funding for the Parental Choice Program, a voucher, through the state budget. Under the new structure, scholarships for K-8 students will increase to $9,893, and K-12 vouchers will expand up to $12,387 per student. Wisconsin’s voucher program will now offer families roughly three-quarters of public school per-student spending.

Biggest Setback

Tax Credit Scholarships eliminated in Illinois

While other states have gone out of their way to extend choice to as many families as possible, Illinois’ Invest in Kids tax-credit scholarship program became the first statewide program in operation to be repealed by a state legislature absent a court order.

Since 2017, more than 9,600 students in Illinois have benefited from Invest in Kids tax-credit scholarships. More than 20,000 other students from across the state were on waiting lists to receive scholarships to attend schools that were a better fit than their assigned district schools. These scholarships were reserved primarily for low-income and minority students.

EdChoice President and CEO Robert Enlow had this to say in response to this historic loss: “It’s heartbreaking that 9,000 children in Illinois lost scholarships because of partisan politics. As more and more families across the country have become free to choose, Illinois decided to restrict parent choices. It’s a decision that will negatively impact low-income children across the state and a decision that flies in the face of the obvious need for more choices given the significant quality issues in Chicago Public Schools.”

Most Likely to Succeed in 2024


Although Louisiana’s former Gov. John Bel Edwards, vetoed an education savings accounts proposal that passed both houses in 2022, appetite and energy for school choice remains strong in the Pelican State.

In order to successfully pass choice bills, a few elements must align: parents galvanized around the issue, lawmakers who will champion bills and a governor who will sign a proposal into law. Louisiana is in a good place on all three.

New Gov. Jeff Landry has made enacting universal ESAs a top priority, and his office is taking the lead in this effort. House Speaker Phillip DeVillier and Senate President Cameron Henry are also extremely supportive of universal choice.

The Louisiana Education Freedom Coalition, a movement of grassroots advocacy groups, national and state-based policy groups, school leaders and associations, and policymakers are working to ensure that education savings accounts will soon become a reality for all Louisiana families.

Other states to watch this year include:

  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
  • Wyoming
  • Idaho

To see how the EdChoice team voted last year, visit The 2023 EdChoice Yearbook Superlatives.