Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la formation et la profession enseignante (CRIFPE)

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Wan, K., Rathbun, A. & Musu, L. (2019). School Choice in the United States : 2019. Washington, DC, Washington, DC : National Center for Education Statistics.


The term “school choice” describes an array of elementary and secondary education options available to students and their families. Parents can send their children to the public schools designated for their home address, or they may have other options within the public school system such as to enroll their children in charter schools or to apply for enrollment in other public schools within or across districts.1 Parents can also choose to send their children to private schools, which can be either religious or nonsectarian. Additionally, parents can choose to homeschool their children instead of enrolling them in a public or private school. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has a long tradition of analyzing issues related to school choice. NCES has implemented a wide range of data collections to measure student enrollment in different types of schooling. For example, surveys of traditional public schools and private schools started more than 100 years ago, and new data collections on charter schools and homeschooling were administered beginning in the 1990s. Using data from the National Household Education Survey (NHES), some previous NCES reports examined school choice: Trends in the Use of School Choice: 1993 to 1999 (NCES 2003-031); Trends in the Use of School Choice: 1993 to 2003 (NCES 2007-045); Trends in the Use of School Choice: 1993 to 2007 (NCES 2010-004); Parent and Family Involvement in Education, From the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012 (NCES 2013-028); and Homeschooling in the United States: 2012 (NCES 2016-096). Drawing from multiple data sources, 1 Open enrollment includes interdistrict and intradistrict school choice policies. Interdistrict school choice policies allow students to attend a public school district other than the one in which they live and were mandatory in 23 states in 2017. Intradistrict school choice policies allow students to attend a school, other than their neighborhood school, within their district and were mandatary in 19 states in 2017. For more information, see State Education Reforms (SER) Table 4.2: https://nces.ed.gov/ programs/statereform/tab4_2.asp. the current report provides updated information on a range of topics related to school choice in the United States. In this report, indicators using sample survey data collected at the household level often categorize public schools as either assigned or chosen. A student is considered to be attending an assigned public school if the parent indicates that the school is the student’s “regularly assigned” school; a student is considered to be attending a chosen public school if the parent indicates that the school is not the student’s regularly assigned school (e.g., a traditional public school located outside the assignment boundary based on the student’s residence, a charter school, or a magnet school).2 In indicators using administrative universe data or schoolbased sample survey data that rely on the universe data for sampling, two categories of public schools are discussed—traditional public schools and public charter schools. Public charter schools are publicly funded schools that are typically governed by a group or organization under a legislative contract (or charter) with the state, district, or other entity. Traditional public schools include all publicly funded schools other than public charter schools. Since data on parental choice of a program or school other than the assigned public school are not available in the school-based administrative data, in indicators using these administrative data the traditional public school category also includes chosen public schools that are not charter schools. In this report, private schools are educational institutions that are controlled by an individual or organization other than a government agency and are usually not supported primarily by public funds. Data for private schools come from either household-based or school-based surveys.


Logos des universités associées au CRIFPE

Adresse civique

Université de Montréal
Faculté des Sciences de l'Éducation
90, avenue Vincent d'Indy
Pavillon Marie-Victorin – C-536
Outremont (Québec) H2V 2S9

Adresse postale

Université de Montréal
Faculté des Sciences de l'Éducation
CRIFPE – C-543
C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville
Montréal (Québec) H3C 3J7