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School choice: what are your options?

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By GreatSchools Staff

Alternative Schools

These are generally schools whose educational philosophies are different from traditional programs. Typically, alternative schools have small classes, a social and emotional development curriculum and a self-paced academic curriculum. This title is used officially as well as informally to describe a wide range of schools, so it's important to ask specific schools why they are classified as "alternative."

Private Schools

Private schools are schools that do not receive funding from the state. They set up their own criteria for admission. Families of the students pay tuition or, in some cases, students receive scholarships to attend. The teachers, principal, board of directors (and sometimes the parents and students) decide upon curriculum, teaching methodology and enrollment requirements. Private schools are not required to hire credentialed teachers or publish their test score results. (Read more about private schools.)


Another option is for parents to teach their children at home instead of sending them to a public or private school. Each state has different laws governing homeschooling. Many communities have organizations that assist homeschooling families with curriculum and opportunities to meet other homeschoolers. (Read more about homeschooling.)

Comments from readers

"hi my son is moving from the caribean to willow grove,pennsylvania and i would like him to go to a good school but Upper Moreland High School(the neighbourhood school) is bad compared to the surrounding schools.What should I do???"
"we are moving to miami, fl. the school my daughter would be attending according to the boundaries would be miami central high school. but i would much like her to attend west land hialeah high school, would i be able to pick this as my choice school?"
"Hello, my daughter goes to school in south central Pennsylvania. How would i go about doing an interdistrict transfer. I would either like her to go to the high school closer to our house (ten minutes away compared to the twenty five now) or the school which is 40minutes away, but it is only 5minutes from my work."
"My son attends Harmony School in Texas and I am truly seeing the difference between public schools and charter schools. What he is being taught in the 6th grade isn't usually taught unitl the 8th grade in the public schools. At Harmony, the students have Mock TAKS test one month and the next month they have Benchmark. If the students score low on the tests, then tutorials are provided at no cost to the parents. These schools really challenge the students, but they also have incentives for them. There are field trips and other trips outside the US. There are 27 campuses in Texas, but they are still growing. I am really gald that there is a school out there which really pushes the kids. "
"we are moving from india to san francisco as my husband is offere a job son is in kindergarten and will turn six this november..i woud like to know the term period of schools coz in India the schools are from june-june..what choices does my son have??can he directly go to one of your schools there or will he have to again study preschool there...any other options please let me know and i realy appreciate "
"The laws on school transfers should be adjusted. The amount of students in each schools are the same. All Broward Schools are over crowded. Build new schools or give the parent the right to change there childrens future. After all it is about our future too. There are schools that are high in unruly kids. Why should the good ones have to suffer? If you put a free bird in a cage with other caged birds they are all caged."
"Hi, I am living at York city downtown of Pennsylvania , my house is nearby the William Penn Senior High School. I am petitioning my 15 year-old child from China to here to continure her high schoolling here. My question is how and where should I begin to choose a good high school for my child? I really don't like my child who have to go to the 'William Penn Senior High School'. I hope GreatSchools can give me some good and helpful tips for me. Appreciate. Hellen Wu"
"Hi! I'm From Monterrey, México, and My famili anda I we're going to live in Miami so, I would like to Know wich schools are the best for my kids, here in Mexico they are in a private anda catholic school, one of my son is rigth now coursing 2° grade and the other one is in preschool, we have to be there by september..."
"Very informative."
"I´m spanish, from Barcelona Spain, and I´m on my way to move to Phoenix(85086) for two years. I have a 4 years old son, and I would like to find the better school for him. Actually he studies in a bilingual school. he learns english, but of course his level is not as good as the schools over there. My preference is a private bilingual school. Another issue is that my son was adopted from russia two years ago, so he is still on his way to adapt to all new circumstances. So a private small school would be the best for him. A school that has psicologist support for helping him on his new life on the states. Hope you can help me. Thankyou very much."
"Must read - Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud and the Attack on America's Public Schools."
"Thanks for a more honest public vs. private schools comparison."