School choice in Illinois

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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 school 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 Illinois include: charter schools, education tax credits, homeschooling, online learning, private schools and mandatory intra-district public school open enrollment.

Educational choice options

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

Charter schools

In 2009, Illinois had a total of 39 charter schools and served approximately 30,000 students in 74 campuses.[3] By the 2012-2013 school year, the number of charter schools in the state grew to 58 in 134 campuses.[4]

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 following organizations were listed by NACSA as charter school authorizers in Illinois:[5]

Illinois charter school authorizers
Organization Authorizer type Number of schools overseen
Beardstown School District Local education agency 1
Chicago Public Schools Local education agency 117
Community Unit School District 300 Local education agency 1
Decatur School District Local education agency 1
East St. Louis School District 189 Local education agency 2
Illinois State Board of Education State education agency 2
Illinois State Charter School Commission Independent chartering board 0
McLean County School District No. 5 Local education agency 1
Peoria School District Local education agency 1
Rockford School District Local education agency 2
Springfield School District Local education agency 1
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, "Illinois Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014

Education tax credit

In 2000, Illinois began offering tax credits for up to 25 percent of education-related expenses. A maximum of $500 could be granted per family.[6] The tax credit program has been held up in court from challenges under both the Establishment Clause and Illinois' religion clauses.[7]


An estimated 59,962 students were home-schooled in Illinois during the 2012-2013 school year, which represented approximately 2.67 percent of all students in the state.[8]

In Illinois, the term "private school" is used as a lawful substitute for public school, and the court system has extended the term "private school" to include homeschooling. There are only two requirements for private home schools: the subjects taught in the private home school must be equivalent to those taught in public school and daily instruction in the private home school must be conducted in English.[9]

Online learning

The state has both a state virtual school called the Illinois Virtual School (IVS) and several district-level online schools. During the 2012-2013 school year, IVS had 2,994 course enrollments, which was a seven percent increase over the previous school year.[10]

Private schools

In the 2011-2012 school year 250,856 students, or 12.1 percent of school age children, were enrolled in 1,404 private schools. Illinois ranks 14th highest in the U.S. in private school attendance.[11]

Public school open enrollment

The state has one mandatory, intra-district enrollment policy, which allows students to apply for a transfer to another school within the same school district in which they reside.[12]

Studies and reports

ABCs of School Choice

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice publishes a comprehensive guide to private school choice programs across the U.S. In its 2014 edition, the Foundation reviewed Illinois's tax credits for educational expenses. The program allows up to $500 in tax credits to be claimed for dependent students' educational expenses, whether they are attending private or public school or are being home schooled. In its review, the Foundation said the tax credit program had potential but needed some updates, such as raising the tax credit allowance.[13] The full Friedman Foundation report can be found here.

Education ballot measures

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

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

Recent news

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

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

Illinois Education News Feed

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See also

External links


  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. Peoria Journal Star, "Grading charter schools at a glance," July 7, 2009
  4. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Schools: 2012-2013 Illinois," accessed June 24, 2014
  5. National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Illinois Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014
  6. The Heritage Foundation, "School Choice in Illinois," accessed July 22, 2009
  7. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "School Choice in Illinois," accessed June 11, 2014
  8. A2Z Home's Cool - Home Education from A to Z, "How Many Homeschoolers in America?" updated February 3, 2014
  9. A2Z Home's Cool - Home Education from A to Z, "Illinois Home School Laws," accessed June 24, 2014
  10. Keeping Pace with K-12 Online & Blended Learning, "Data & Information: Illinois," accessed June 24, 2014
  11. 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", 2011-12 v.1a; "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a., accessed May 12, 2014.
  12. Education Commission of the States, "Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed June 24, 2014
  13. The Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, "The ABCs of School Choice," 2014 Edition