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School choice in Vermont

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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 Vermont include: a school voucher program, an inter-district open enrollment policy and an online learning program. In addition, about 10.59 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

As of March 2015, Vermont is one of seven states that have not passed 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. As of December 2014, Vermont had at least two magnet schools. These schools, found in the Burlington area, have all of the hallmarks of magnet schools, but were not recorded as part of the National Center for Education Statistics's 2011-2012 report. This may be due to the fact that these schools were only recently converted to magnet schools, although this information is not apparent either.[4][5][6]

School vouchers and tax incentives

Vermont has one school voucher program:

  • Town Tuitioning Program: Under this program, students in towns that do not operate public high schools and/or elementary schools are eligible for vouchers to pay tuition at any public or approved private (non-religious) school inside or outside Vermont. Most "tuitioning towns" (those towns without public schools) allow parents to choose the schools to which they will send their students, but some towns send all students to one school.[7]

Online learning

According to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, the state-led Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative (VTVLC) served 940 course enrollments in 80 courses to 35 schools in the 2012-13 academic year. In addition, the Virtual High School Collaborative serves 710 Vermont students in 30 high schools. Apart from these programs, there are no significant district-level online learning programs, and there are no fully virtual schools.[8]

Private schools

In the 2011-12 school year, 8,903 students, or 10.59 percent of school age children, were enrolled in 109 private schools. Vermont ranks 19th highest in the nation in private school attendance.[9]

Public school open enrollment

According to the Education Commission of the States, Vermont has an inter-district/voluntary policy. 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.[10]


In Vermont in 2012-2013 an estimated 2,492 students, or 2.67 percent of the total student-aged population, were homeschooled.[11]

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

Studies and reports

Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

In 2014 the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice published a description of and commentary on school choice options in the United States. Regarding the Town Tuitioning Program, the foundation said, "Vermont’s town tuitioning program is very restrictive on eligibility, based on the fact students only qualify if their home district does not have a public school; only about 3 percent of the state’s student population lives in such towns. The program does far better on funding, as each student can receive more than 75 percent of the average state and local revenue per pupil. Also, the program does not place overly burdensome regulations on participating schools. Vermont’s unique school choice program should increase student eligibility beyond ZIP Code assignment."[12]

The full report can be accessed here.

School choice ballot measures

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

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

Recent news

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

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

Vermont School Choice News Feed

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See also