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Public school choice programs

Question:
What percentage of students are enrolled in school choice programs?

Response:

In 2012, the parents of 37 percent of all 1st- through 12th-grade students indicated that public school choice was available to them. Also in 2012, 14 percent of the students in grades 1 through 12 were enrolled in public schools chosen by their families. Some 77 percent of students attended an assigned public school and 8 percent attended a private school. There were differences by some characteristics in the percentages of students who attended public schools chosen by their parents and private schools in 2012. For example, the percentage of students attending chosen public schools was higher for Black students (21 percent) and Hispanic students (17 percent) than for White students (11 percent). In contrast, the percentage attending private schools was higher for White students (9 percent) than for Black or Hispanic students (both 5 percent). There were no measurable differences in the percentage of students in chosen public schools by different levels of parental educational attainment (ranging from 13 to 15 percent). The percentage of students attending public chosen schools was higher for students living in cities (22 percent) than for students in suburban areas (13 percent), towns (9 percent), and rural areas (9 percent).

Compared with students in assigned public schools, a higher percentage of students in chosen public schools had parents who were very satisfied with some elements of their children's education in 2012. Among students in grades 3 through 12, the percentage of students whose parents were very satisfied with their school was higher for students in chosen schools (56 percent) than for students in assigned schools (52 percent). Similarly, the percentage of students whose parents were very satisfied with their school's academic standards was higher for students in chosen schools (59 percent) than for students in assigned schools (53 percent). Also, higher percentages of students in chosen schools had parents who were very satisfied with school order and discipline (58 vs. 52 percent) as well as with staff interaction with parents (49 vs. 45 percent). However, there was no measurable difference between the percentages of students in chosen and assigned public schools whose parents were highly satisfied with the teachers in their school (52 percent each).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094), Chapter 2.

Percentage of students enrolled in grades 1 through 12 whose parents reported having public school choice, considered other schools, reported current school was their first choice, or moved to their current neighborhood for the public school, by school type: 2012
School type1 Public choice available Considered other schools School was parent's first choice Moved to neighborhood for public school2
Total 37.3 30.5 78.6 18.6
Public, assigned 27.8 24.2 77.5 20.3
Public, chosen3 100.0 53.1 79.3 9.8
Private, religious 20.7 46.5 87.2
Private, nonsectarian 21.2 61.5 88.9

† Not applicable.
1 There were 160 cases excluded from the school type analysis because parents reported the school as a private school when it was later found to be a public school, and therefore questions about whether the school was assigned were not asked.
2 This column shows percentages of public school students only. Private school students are excluded from the analysis.
3 Students who attended chosen public schools were automatically coded as "yes" for whether or not their district allowed public school choice.

NOTE: Data exclude homeschooled children.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094), Table 206.40.

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