The District of Columbia is a leader in providing school choice options for parents.
Public School Choice:
The District of Columbia offers intra-district public school choice. Students wishing to attend a public school outside of their district may participate in an out-of-boundary lottery. Students submit a list of their top school preferences, and some are then selected based on their priority level and the lottery outcome.
Private School Choice:
In 2011, the extremely popular D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was reauthorized and expanded to continue providing private school scholarships for up 2,000 low-income children to attend a school of their choice. Students in grades K-8 are eligible to receive up to $8,000 and students in grades 9–12 can receive up to $12,000 for private school tuition. Through this program, families are also eligible for reduced-price lunch options.
According to the Center for Education Reform, Washington, D.C., has one of the nation’s strongest charter school laws. Passed in 1996 and expanded in 2005, the law has allowed thousands of parents to choose alternative public schools for their children. Furthermore, the D.C. Public Charter School Board is a very strong, independent authorizer of charters. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, as of 2013, approximately 35,000 students were enrolled in the District’s 57 charter schools available on 105 campuses.
The Community Academy Public Charter School (CAPCS) Online operates in Washington, D.C., and provides online learning for students in grades K-8. Combining online learning with in person instruction, also known as blended learning, is also becoming very popular in many DC charter schools.
In 2011, Congress reauthorized the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to low-income students in Washington, D.C. Since 2009, the program has been in danger of being phased out, and no new students were being allowed to apply for scholarships. The 2011 legislation restored the program by once again, allowing new students to enter the program and increasing the scholarship amount.
Click here for detailed information on the District of Columbia's public school system and see below for school choice contacts and a history of school choice legislation in the District of Columbia.