Iowa is a leader in providing school choice options to families.
Public School Choice:
Iowa families have some choice within the public education system, including inter-district open enrollment. However, the Center for Education Reform reports that Iowa has one of the nation’s weakest charter school laws. As of 2010, just over 1,400 students were enrolled in the state’s nine charter schools.
Private School Choice:
Iowa families have access to two private school choice options: a personal use program and a donation tax credit program. The Individual School Tuition Organization Tax Credit, instituted in 2006, allows individuals to receive a tax credit for donating to scholarship-granting organizations (SGOs). In 2009, nearly 10,000 of these scholarships were awarded to low-income Iowa students. Individuals can also receive tax credits for education-related expenses.
According to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning, Iowa has one state-led program, the supplemental Iowa Learning Online virtual school. Previously, the state also funded the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), but this school recently lost its funding. Because Iowa has weak charter school laws, there are no full-time virtual schools. There is one district-led program, the Kirkwood High School Distance Learning Program, which served nearly 300 students in the 2009-2010 school year.
In 2011, Iowa expanded its Scholarship Tax Credit Program by over $1 million a year.
Click here for detailed information on Iowa's public school system and see below for school choice contacts and a history of school choice legislation in Iowa.