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School choice in South Dakota

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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 South Dakota include: inter-district and intra-district open enrollment policies and online learning programs. In addition, about 8.68 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

According to the Center for Education Reform, South Dakota is one of eight states without charter school legislation.[3]

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. South Dakota did not have any magnet schools as of December 2014. It is unclear whether or not the law prohibits magnet school designation, or if magnet schools are allowed but not used.[4][5]

School vouchers and tax incentives

South Dakota offers neither school vouchers nor school choice tax incentives.[6]

Online learning

According to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, the primary online learning option in South Dakota is the state-led South Dakota Virtual School (SDVS). SDVS is a "consortium of approved distance education providers offering supplemental courses managed from within the South Dakota Department of Education." Because there is no charter school law in the state, there are no online charter school programs in South Dakota.[7]

Private schools

In the 2011-12 school year, 11,115 students, or 8.68 percent of school age children, were enrolled in 68 private schools. South Dakota ranks 28th highest in the nation in private school attendance.[8]

Public school open enrollment

According to the Education Commission of the States, there are two open enrollment policies in South Dakota:[9]

  1. Intra-district/mandatory and inter-district/mandatory policies
  2. Inter-district/mandatory policy, which allows for inter-district enrollment "as long as it can be done without injuring or overcrowding the school."

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.[9]


In South Dakota in 2012-2013 an estimated 3,867 students, or 2.67 percent of the total student-aged population, were homeschooled.[10]

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 South Dakota ballot measures

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

Recent news

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

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

South Dakota School Choice News Feed

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See also