School choice in Missouri

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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 Missouri include: charter schools, open enrollment policies and online learning programs. In addition, about 11.50 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 Missouri

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, charter schools are "independent public schools that are free from rules and regulations that apply to traditional public school districts unless specifically identified in charter school law. In exchange for flexibility, charter school sponsors are to hold the schools accountable for results. Charter schools are non-sectarian, do not discriminate in their admission policies and may not charge tuition or fees."

According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, there were 38 charter schools operating in Missouri in the 2012-13 academic year. During that time, charter schools enrolled 17,868 students.[3][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 organizations in the following table were listed by NACSA as charter school authorizers in Missouri:[5]

Magnet schools

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

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.[6][7]

In the 2011-2012 school year, there were 2,949 magnet schools in the United States. In that year, Missouri had 29 magnet schools that served 14,149 students. Approximately 78 percent of students enrolled in Missouri magnet schools were classified as a minority. That percentage of students was predominately black. This was higher than Missouri's average of 27 percent minority enrollment. The state also reported an average student:teacher ratio of 14:1 in magnet schools, which is higher than the state average of 13:1 in traditional public schools. The table below lists this information again and compares it to Missouri's neighboring states.[8][9]

Magnet school participation, 2011-2012
State Magnet schools in the state Students in magnet schools Minority enrollment percentage Student:teacher ratio
Missouri 29 14,149 78% 14:1
Arkansas 38 21,616 65% 14:1
Illinois 108 75,960 76% 18:1
Iowa No data available
Source: Public School Review, "Public School Review state magnet school pages," accessed December 12, 2014

School vouchers and tax credits

Missouri provides neither school vouchers nor school choice tax credits.[10]

Online learning

According to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, Missouri has no statewide, online charter schools. The state-led Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MoVIP) serves both part-time and full-time K-12 students. There are also district-specific online learning programs.[11]

Private schools

In the 2011-12 school year, 105,346 students, or 11.50 percent of school age children, were enrolled in 579 private schools. Missouri ranks 16th highest in the nation in private school attendance.[12]

Public school open enrollment

According to the Education Commission of the States, Missouri has four open enrollment policies:[13]

  1. Inter-district/mandatory policy, which allows "students whose districts of residence constitute an unusual or unreasonable transportation hardship because of natural barriers, travel time, or distance to attend another district and allows students in districts that do not maintain an accredited school, as designated by the state, to attend a school within another district in the same county or in an adjoining county."
  2. An inter-district voluntary policy, which does not apply to any district in a county "of the first classification having a charter form of government or to any district within the city of St. Louis"
  3. An inter-district voluntary policy, which applies to the St. Louis metropolitan area
  4. An inter-district voluntary policy, which "allows the school board of any district, in its discretion, to admit to the school pupils not entitled to free instruction and prescribe the tuition fee to be paid by them, except for certain exemptions"

Intra-district policies provide for the transfer of students within a school district, while inter-district policies allow students to transfer between districts. Under mandatory open enrollment policies, school districts are required to participate. Under voluntary policies, school districts may choose whether to participate.[13]


In Missouri in 2012-2013 an estimated 27,322 students, or 2.67 percent of the total student-aged population, were homeschooled.[14]

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 Missouri ballot measures

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

Recent news

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

Missouri School Choice News Feed

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See also


  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 - Missouri," accessed June 23, 2014
  4. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Students - Missouri," accessed June 23, 2014
  5. National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Missouri Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014
  6. Public School Review, "What is a magnet school?" accessed December 9, 2014
  7. Magnet Schools of America, "What are magnet schools?" accessed December 9, 2014
  8. National Center for Education Statistics, "Selected statistics from the common core of data: School year 2011-2012," accessed December 12, 2014
  9. Public School Review, "Missouri magnet schools," accessed December 12, 2014
  10. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "School Choice in Missouri," accessed June 23, 2014
  11. Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, "Missouri," accessed June 23, 2014
  12. 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
  13. 13.0 13.1 Education Commission of the States, "Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed June 23, 2014
  14. A2Z Home's Cool, "Number of Homeschoolers in the USA," updated February 2, 2014