Illinois provides families with limited school choice options.
Public School Choice:
Illinois offers limited choice within the public school system. The Education Commission of the States reports that Illinois has enacted intra-district open enrollment: “With certain restrictions, this statute allows the transfer of a student from one attendance center to another within the school district upon the request of the student’s parent or guardian.”
Private School Choice:
Since 2000, Illinois has offered a tax credit of 25% of average per-pupil expenditure to cover educational expenses, including private school tuition. The maximum credit is $500. More than 270,000 students benefited as a result of this tax credit in 2010.
The Center for Education Reform reports that Illinois’ charter school law is weak because there is a lack of adequate funding, a cap on the maximum number of charter schools that the state can authorize, and only local boards are permitted to approve charters. However, attendance at these charter schools is high. As of 2013, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reports that approximately 57,000 students are attending the state’s 58 charter schools.
According to the Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning report, Illinois has a state-led program as well as virtual charter schools and district-level programs. The state-led Illinois Virtual School(IVS) offers supplemental courses and had 2,994 course enrollments in the 2012-2013 school year, a 7 percent increase over the previous year. The Chicago Virtual School (CVCS) offers a full-time online program, although students must meet in class once a week. As of 2011, the Cambridge Academy also received approval to begin operating a full-time, statewide online program for students. There are two district online programs in Chicago, the Virtual Opportunities Inside a School Environment Academy (VOISE) and the Youth Connection Charter School, which reported 120 enrollments in the 2010-2011 school year.
Click here for detailed information on Illinois' public school system and see below for school choice contacts and a history of school choice legislation in Illinois.