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School Choice in Massachusetts

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Massachusetts school choice allows parents to choose another school district for their kids. Most alternate school options are free to the student, as tuition is transferred from the home district to the student's chosen district. Students can go to an alternate school using the following options: Going to another district, attending charter schools, matriculating at vocational schools, going to Metco, or home schooling.

Six to sixteen year old students are eligible for school choice.

Most students attend schools in their home district. If they live in a city, like Boston, Massachusetts, they could attend one of Boston's schools. If they live in a town, they can attend one of the schools in the regional school district containing their town. This region includes neighboring Massachusetts towns. Some Massachusetts school districts teach high school for the whole region; but grade school is taught within a sub region.

For example, Tantasqua Regional School District teaches grades 7 to 12 for the whole region. Tantasqua is divided into sub regions, which teach grade school. Sturbridge, Massachusetts, is one of these sub regions. As soon as a Sturbridge student reaches 7th grade, this student can attend the Tantasqua School district high school.

There are Massachusetts towns that have no school district of their own. Students living in these towns have no choice but to go to school in another town. The state of Massachusetts requires these towns to pay tuition for their residents that attend public schools in an adjacent town.

If you want to enroll your child in another district, call that district's superintendent. Place this call 6 months before the end of the current school year. If there are more student applications than vacant student seats, the receiving district holds a lottery to make their selection. If there are more vacant student seats than applications, simply submit the application. Your chances are good if you already have a child attending the other school district. Your second child will receive preference over the other applicants.

Charter Schools are state sponsored schools; students living anywhere in Massachusetts can apply to attend. Go to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's website for a list of charter schools. See Resources below. Go to the drop down menu on that website, and select "charter schools" from the list of options. Click the "right" or "forward" arrow right next to the drop down menu to transfer to the Massachusetts charter school page.

Charter Schools are similar to inter district schools when it comes to deciding which students get approved for transfer. A lottery is held in cases of excess student applications, and preferences are given to students with a brother or sister already attending that school. If the charter school is regional; students in that Massachusetts region receive application preference over those from outside the region.

Student school choice also includes vocational training; these high schools provide job trade related classes. These trades include auto work, cooking, graphics or a skill that prepares a student for employment. Despite these classes' vocational nature, students still have to meet the basic graduation requirements other students in Massachusetts must meet.

Metco is a program that gives inner city students in Boston the choice to attend a suburban school surrounding Boston, Massachusetts. Enrollment is slim, and the waiting list for the limited slots available is long. Springfield Public Schools manages this program.

Parents could contact the local school committee for approval if they want to send their kids to a private school. These schools charge tuition, which come out of the parent's pockets. Students can also qualify for private school scholarships.

Home schooling is a convenient choice for parents that want to influence their kid's quality of education. If you're interested in home schooling your children, contact the superintendent of your kid's home school district. They have to approve home schooling requests in advance.


Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website, finance and school choice.

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