school choice

Understanding School Choice in Education

Although some people question school choice most parents say they like being able to choose a school for their child. Many parents use the school choice process to choose a school that offers special programming such as the arts, science, technology, or different languages. Others choice into a school because of the school location.

School choice information

The process to choose a different school can be a bit cumbersome. Many parents are left behind and do not able to understand school choice. In this post, I discuss the school choice application process and how you can apply to special schools in your area.

The process of school choice gives families the ability to apply for a school within their area. The process of school choice can vary from district to district but in most cases, districts tend to follow a similar process. Below are some of the most common steps and requirements to consider when completing a school choice application.

Why school choice?

The US Department of Education website, notes that the anti-poverty and civil rights laws of the 1960s and 1970s brought about a dramatic emergence of the Department’s equal access mission to education. Some say that charter schools have tightened the school choice competition considering the high number of charter schools that are now part of the school choice system in the USA.

Others argue that parents know their child’s best and should have the option to select a school that best fit and benefit their child. Some parents choose a different school based on school ratings, location, child care, and special programs offered by a school.

How to access school choice information

School choice information is available on a school district or charter website. Some school districts offer school choice information nights. For instance, in the state of Delaware schools offer choice information sessions to showcase their school’s programs in an effort to attract more applicants.

During a choice information session, you’ll find information addressing transportation, school clubs, sports offerings, special programs, and a description of the choice application process. A review of this information helps parents make an informed decision about the school they’ll apply for based on their child’s interest.

The application process for choice schools varies from district to district. Understanding the school choice process can be as complicated as understanding the US school system. Some schools require an application only while others may require an audition, assessments, or a portfolio.

Application Process

Some schools only require schools to complete a short application by a certain due date in addition to the regular school registration form. Keep in mind that it is important to submit applications before the specified due date. Meeting the deadline ensures that you are considered for the school you apply to.

Schools use paper or online applications. Contact the school district choice office to inquire about the application process.


When choosing a school you may need to have your child audition for a program. The audition process applies to schools that offer special programs such as the Arts. For example, a school with a musical program may have students audition by presenting a musical performance. Auditions ratings determine acceptance.

If the school you’re applying to a school that requires an audition, find out about the scoring criteria and requirements related to the program. Other programs related to the Arts that may require an audition are visual arts, communication arts, vocal arts, and instrumental.


In addition to an audition, certain schools may also require students to submit a portfolio. Visual arts and communication major applications are two programs that require portfolios. Specific criteria and requirements must be met to obtain the highest possible ratings. Score results of the portfolio are part of the application process.

Lottery System

Schools also use a lottery system to select students. In a lottery system, students are assigned a random number based on designated criteria. Charter schools are known to use the lottery system to select students each year. A lottery system allows schools to randomly select students when the number of applicants is higher than available seats in a program or school.

School Choice Restrictions

School choice presents some restrictions that we must also take into consideration. The most concerning restrictions within the choice system is transportation and space limitations. Once a parent applies for a choice school he/she accepts responsibility for transporting their child to and from school.

Some parents may sometimes have to decline acceptance letters because of transportation challenges. Even when transportation is available to and from school, school bus stops are often very far from a student’s house requiring families to drive kids to and from stops.

In addition to transportation, a limited number of seats is also an issue parents experience when applying for school choice. For some schools, the number of applicants is sometimes three times higher than the number of available seats. Space is one of the reasons why some families are regularly discouraged from pursuing the school or program they’re eager to attend.

Although the application process described here might be slightly different from your local schools. It is important to keep in mind that once you receive an invitation letter, you have to accept the invitation to attend. In some districts, not submitting a signed invitation letter will mean that you’re declining to attend the school.

The application process does not end until you officially accept an invitation to attend. This is why it is so important to understand school choice. Accepting to attend a school comes with various compromises that you will need to adhere to in the school.

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1 thought on “Understanding School Choice in Education”

  1. I found it helpful when you said that there are schools that require an application form to be submitted by a certain due date. This is something that I will share with my sister who is planning to enroll her son in a private school next October. She wants to make sure that the enrollment process is going to be easy and smooth, so your tips are helpful.

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