education options

education options2018-02-24T21:26:19-06:00

You have more options than you may think…

Brick & Mortar Public Schools

Compulsory Attendance

Your child’s age is your first indicator of his or her eligibility for beginning school.Children who are not yet five-years-old on or before September 1. Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.02, allows for school boards to permit selected children early admission into kindergarten if there is an early admission policy established by the school board.  see more >

Required Documentation

Minnesota school districts set the requirements for what documentation is required prior to enrolling a student in their district. To get that information, contact the district directly.  

Some legal documents are required for Minnesota students to attend school:

  • Certified Birth Certificate/proof of identity
  • Official copy of records/transcripts from the previous school the child most recently attended
  • A shot immunization record (or proof that immunization is not required for the child)
  • Click here to view the immunization requirements
  • Proof of home address (for example, a rental agreement or tax statement)

School Fees

Paying some fees is a part of public education, though it is primarily a free education. Students are expected to supply their own basic school supplies such as paper, pencils, and notebooks. Each district has a list of approved expenditures for students. Fee waiver forms can be requested from the school if there is a situation that prevents a family from being able to pay for required materials or events.

Some typical items on that list include:

  • Lunch
  • Summer school
  • Student parking passes (high school)
  • Lost textbooks
  • Late or lost library books
  • Field trips
  • Special class-required fees (e.g., science lab fees)

Public Charter Schools

What are Charter Schools?

Charter Schools are tuition-free public schools operated by independent, non-profit governing bodies.

Parents, teachers, and community leaders sign a “charter” or contract with a school district or state agency to create a charter school and give students more educational options than their assigned school. Charter schools have flexibility over classroom hours, curriculum, and employment policies, but are subject to periodic reviews based on student performance. In Minnesota, public charter school students are measured against the same academic standards as students in other public schools. Local boards of education monitor the academic and financial performance of charter schools, and, can revoke  or refuse to renew a school’s charter.

Minnesota Charter Schools

There are over 170 registered charter schools in Minnesota. For a full list, visit the MN Association of Charter Schools

Frequently Asked Questions

For frequently asked questions visit the Minnesota Association Charter.


Most charter schools do not have attendance zones. If you are interested in applying for your child, you must apply directly to the school. The application and selection process can be quite complicated. Make sure to contact the school early to determine the correct next steps to applying.

Virtual Public Schools

Before the 2016–17 school year, each local board of education adopted a policy providing at a minimum, a virtual education option for eligible students in Grades 9–12, inclusive, beginning with that school year. Most have programs available for students 8–12 grade. Check your local school district for details.

Minnesota Virtual High School

phone: (612)-746-7977

grades: 7–12

Minnesota Virtual Academy

phone: (866)-215-2292

grades: K–12

Minnesota Virtual School for Success

phone: (507)-275-3115, Ext. 121

grades: K–12

Bluesky Online

phone: (651)-642-0888

grades: K–12

Minnesota Online High School

phone: 1-800-764-8166

grades: 9–12

Private Schools

What makes a school “private”?

Private schools charge tuition, and many have a religious mission. Some private schools offer families assistance to make tuition payments. Click below for the complete list of over 300 private schools across the state.

Private School Review offers free, detailed information on U.S. private schools combined with useful community data (e.g., housing costs) and maps of the surrounding areas.

*Information on non-public school admission requirements should be obtained from the school directly.

Educational Choice Programs

Minnesota’s K–12 Education Credit program was enacted in 1997 and launched in 1998. The individual tax credit program offers families a refundable tax credits for non-tuition educational expenses like tutoring, educational after-school programs and books. Learn more about this program, including the value of the tax credit and student eligibility on this page.

Minnesota Education Deduction – This individual tax deduction program, enacted in 1955, allows parents to deduct educational expenses, including tuition, tutoring, books and more. Eligible expenses reduce a family’s taxable income when taxes are filed.

For more information on policy change or to get involved in the school choice movement in Minnesota visit EdChoice.

Private Virtual Schools

George Washington University Online High School is an online college preparatory academy for motivated students who are willing to be challenged to become the best students and persons they can be. Combining award-winning curriculum with small class sizes and intensive college counseling, students receive a flexible, individualized education attuned to their own needs and goals.

International Academy is a K12, Inc accredited, online private school for grades K–12. Students earn a U.S. high school diploma while using award-winning K¹² curriculum

They offer extensive, individualized academic and counseling support keep students on track. The flexibility allows students to explore their passions. Full-time and part-time options are available.

International Connections Academy is a fully-accredited, online, college preparatory private school serving K–12 students worldwide. The program combines a top-rated curriculum with talented teachers, cutting-edge technology, the flexibility to learn at home, and direct family involvement to ensure each student realizes his or her full potential.

The Keystone School offers flexible education programs for high school and middle school students. Whether your student wants to study full-time or just needs individual classes, they offer more than 170 courses from credit recovery to world languages and AP. Students can enroll at any time.

Laurel Springs Online School  is a fully accredited private online school for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, offering challenging academic programs that honor each child’s individual learning style and educational needs.

Home Education

Your options

If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, the Homeschool Legal Defence Alliance recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.  learn more >

Minnesota’s education code explicitly recognizes that a child’s parent is primarily responsible for ensuring that the child acquires the knowledge and skills essential to effective citizenship. In order to homeschool legally, you will need to follow these guidelines.

1. Ensure that the instructor has the required qualifications.

In order to teach children in Minnesota, a person must be “qualified.” Parents teaching their own children are automatically qualified. If someone other than a parent is teaching the child, he or she must have one of the following qualifications:

  1. hold a Minnesota teaching license in the field and grade taught,
  2. be directly supervised by a licensed teacher,
  3. successfully complete a teacher competency exam,
  4. provide instruction in a school that is accredited or recognized by the state board, or
  5. hold a baccalaureate degree.

2. Teach the required subjects.

The required subjects are reading, writing, literature, fine arts, math, science, history, geography, economics, government, citizenship, health, and physical education. While there is no specific requirement in Minnesota law for how often each of the subjects must be taught or at what grade levels, HSLDA’s general recommendation is that each of the required subjects be taught at an age-appropriate level every year during the elementary and middle school years, and at least once in high school.

3. Keep good records.

Minnesota law requires that you maintain documentation indicating that the required subjects are being taught and proof that the tests required have been administered. This documentation must include class schedules, copies of materials used for instruction, and descriptions of methods used to assess student achievement. This information can be required by a county prosecutor in accordance with the law. HSLDA members who receive such a request from their school superintendent or county prosecutor pursuant to records requests should contact us immediately.

HSLDA also recommends that you keep records of attendance, information on the textbooks and workbooks used, and student work samples. You should maintain these records for at least two years. If your child is in high school, you should maintain these records for all four years of high school.

4. Evaluate your child annually.

You are required to test your child annually using a nationally norm-referenced standardized achievement test. The test and the testing location must be agreed on by you and the district superintendent. If your child scores at or below the 30th percentile or one full grade below children of the same age, you must have your child evaluated for learning difficulties. You should maintain your achievement test results in accordance with the recordkeeping requirements described above.

If your homeschool is accredited by a recognized Minnesota accrediting association, you are not required to test the children. For more information about accrediting your homeschool, see here.

5. Notify your school district that you are homeschooling.

After your child reaches the age of 7, you must submit notification to the superintendent of the district in which your child resides by October 1 of each school year, or within 15 days of withdrawing the child from public school.

The first notification you submit should report the name, date of birth, and address of each child being taught, the annual tests you intend to use (if required), the name of each instructor, and evidence of compliance with teacher qualifications (if applicable). You must also report immunization compliance for each child reaching age 7 and then again in the 7th-grade year.

In each subsequent year until your child turns 16, you must provide a letter of intent to continue homeschooling, listing any changes in the required information. (If you begin homeschooling a child after the age of 16, you must submit a letter of intent to continue until the child turns 17.)

If you move out of your school district, you must notify that district within 15 days of moving.

HSLDA provides user-friendly forms our members can use to comply with Minnesota’s homeschool law. Please download the forms you need. If you have any questions about the forms or complying with the law, please contact HSLDA’s legal team.

Home School Legal Defense Alliance

visit HSLDA website >

Coalition for Responsible Home Education

visit the coalition’s website >

Support Groups

Minnesota has many homeschool associations that offer classes, curriculum, advising, sports, clubs, socials and recreation. Check out your local support groups here.

Dual Enrollment

College Credit

Minnesota’s concurrent enrollment programs offer thousands of Minnesota students access to rigorous college courses in their high school buildings. Research shows that high school students who participate in an accelerated learning option, such as concurrent enrollment, benefit greatly from:

  •   Exposure to high expectations.
  •   Participation in challenging courses.
  •   The momentum gained by earning college credits while still in high school.

By participating in concurrent enrollment, high school students complete college requirements that allow for greater flexibility when they enter the university setting full-time. Many concurrent enrollment alums find they are able to pursue second majors, participate in study abroad opportunities, and internships. Not only do concurrent enrollment students get a step ahead of other entering freshman in terms of credits, but they also gain college-level skills from concurrent enrollment courses. Our courses challenge high school students to think critically, write academically, and read analytically, preparing students for greater success in college.

Course Fees

There is no cost to the student to participate in these courses. For more info visit The Minnesota Department of Education.

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