School choice in Connecticut

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School choice refers to the educational alternatives available to parents who do not wish to send their children to the local district public schools to which they are assigned. Public school choice options include open enrollment policies, magnet schools and charter schools. Other options include traditional school vouchers, scholarship tax credits, personal tax credits and deductions and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which allow parents to receive public funds directly for educational expenses.[1][2]

School choice options in Connecticut include: charter schools, inter-district and intra-district open enrollment policies and some online learning programs. In addition, about 10.89 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.

Educational choice options

See also: Number of schools by school type in the U.S.

Charter schools

See also: Charter schools in Connecticut

The Connecticut Department of Education defines charter schools as "public, nonsectarian, independent schools that operate independently of a local or regional board of education pursuant to a state or local charter." Charter schools are considered public agencies and must be organized as nonprofit organizations. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, there were 17 charter schools operating in Connecticut in the 2012-13 academic year. During that time, charter schools enrolled 6,560 students.[3][4][5]

Charter school authorizers are, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the organizations "designated to approve, monitor, renew, and, if necessary, close charter schools." As of June 2014, the organizations in the following table were listed by NACSA as charter school authorizers in Connecticut:[6]

Connecticut charter school authorizers
Organization Authorizer type Number of schools overseen
Connecticut State Department of Education State education agency 17
Note: If the total number of charter schools accounted for in this table differs from the total number listed elsewhere on this page, the discrepancy owes to differing calculation methods and data sources.
Source: National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Connecticut Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014

Magnet schools

Magnet schools, sometimes called theme-based schools, are public schools of choice that use a specialized subject area or innovative learning approach to attract students from more diverse backgrounds. In fact, magnet schools began as a way to desegregate public schools through choice rather than force. Magnet schools can reach beyond the barriers of school districts, but they are still managed and funded publicly by local districts, even though they are centered around specialized themes and subjects.[7][8]

In the 2011-2012 school year, there were 2,949 magnet schools in the United States. In that year, Connecticut had 69 magnet schools that served 31,205 students. Approximately 72 percent of students enrolled in Connecticut magnet schools were classified as a minority. That percentage of students was predominately African American and Hispanic. This was higher than Connecticut's average of 19 percent minority enrollment. The state also reported an average student:teacher ratio of 13:1 in magnet schools, which is the same as the state average in traditional public schools. The table below lists this information again. No data is available for Connecticut's neighboring states.[9][10]

Magnet school participation, 2011-2012
State Magnet schools in the state Students in magnet schools Minority enrollment percentage Student:teacher ratio
Connecticut 69 31,205 72% 13:1
Massachusetts No data available
New Hampshire No data available
Rhode Island No data available
Source: Public School Review, "Public School Review state magnet school pages," accessed December 12, 2014

School vouchers and tax credits

Connecticut does not have a voucher program, nor does it provide for school choice tax credits.[11]

Online learning

According to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, Connecticut does not offer any full-time online learning programs. Students participating in the state's Adult Credit Diploma Programs may earn credits online through the Connecticut Adult Virtual High School. The state's virtual school, the Connecticut Virtual Learning Center, ceased operations at the close of the 2012-13 academic year. Supplemental online learning programs are available in select school districts via the Connecticut Regional Educational Service Center.[12]

Private schools

In the 2011-12 school year, 60,326 students, or 10.89 percent of school age children, were enrolled in 360 private schools. Connecticut ranks 18th highest in the nation in private school attendance.[13]

Public school open enrollment

Connecticut has three open enrollment policies:[14]

  1. Intra-district/voluntary policy: Parents may select the school that their child or children will attend, provided that the school is located within the school district.
  2. Intra-district/voluntary and inter-district/voluntary policies: Regional boards of education may offer intra-district and inter-district enrollment programs "for the purpose of increasing awareness of the diversity of individuals and cultures."
  3. Inter-district/mandatory policy: Students may attend schools outside of their home districts. School districts must participate.


In Connecticut in 2012-2013 an estimated 16,008 students, or 2.67 percent of the total student-aged population, were homeschooled.[15]

A summary of the state's laws relating to homeschooling can be accessed here.

School choice ballot measures

See also: School choice on the ballot and List of Connecticut ballot measures

Ballotpedia has tracked no statewide ballot measures relating to school choice in Connecticut.

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Connecticut + Education + Choice"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Connecticut School Choice News Feed

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See also

External links

Additional reading


  1. National Conference of State Legislatures, "School Choice and Charters," accessed June 18, 2014
  2. Friedman Foundation for School Choice, "What is School Choice?" accessed June 18, 2014
  3. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Schools - Connecticut," accessed June 20, 2014
  4. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Students - Connecticut," accessed June 20, 2014
  5. Connecticut State Department of Education, "Charter School Questions and Answers," accessed June 20, 2014
  6. National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Connecticut Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014
  7. Public School Review, "What is a magnet school?" accessed December 9, 2014
  8. Magnet Schools of America, "What are magnet schools?" accessed December 9, 2014
  9. National Center for Education Statistics, "Selected statistics from the common core of data: School year 2011-2012," accessed December 12, 2014
  10. Public School Review, "Connecticut magnet schools," accessed December 12, 2014
  11. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "School Choice in Connecticut," accessed June 20, 2014
  12. Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, "Connecticut," accessed June 20, 2014
  13. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "Private School Universe Survey (PSS)", 2011-12 ; "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey, v.1a.," accessed May 12, 2014
  14. Education Commission of the States, "Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed June 20, 2014
  15. A2Z Home's Cool, "Number of Homeschoolers in the USA," updated February 2, 2014