education options

education options2018-02-24T20:39:48-06:00

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. Philadelphia’s compulsory school age is 6. This early age requirement does not apply if you plan to conduct a home education program for your child and file a notice of this with the superintendent of your local school district. see more >

Required Documentation

Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania, 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.

Pennsylvania Charter Schools

For a list of Pennsylvania Charter Schools visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about charters can be found at the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  


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

In Pennsylvania, children attend school online in virtual classrooms with state certified teachers. Some virtual programs are open to in-district students only, while others have enrollment open to students across the state. 

Here is a list to the Cyber Charter Schools available in PA.

Bald Eagle Area Cyber Academy

Phone: (814) 353-1413
Grade: K-12

Bangor Area School District Cyber School

Phone: (610) 588-2163
Grade: K-12

Berks Online Learning

Phone: (610) 898-8950
Grade: K-12

Boyertown Area School District

Phone: (610) 473-3465
Grade: K-12

Brandywine Heights Area School District

Phone: (610) 682-5102 ext. 2218
Grade: K-12

Bucks County Intermediate Unit -Bridges Virtual 

Phone: (215) 348-2940
Grade: K-12

Carlisle Area School District

Phone: (717) 240-6800
Grade: K-12

Conestoga Valley Virtual Academy

Phone: (717) 397-2421
Grade: K-12

Ephrata Virtual Academy

Phone: (717) 721-1150 ext. 2
Grade: K-12

Fleetwood Virtual School

Phone: (610) 944-8111
Grade: K-12

Hill House Passport Academy

Phone: (412) 376-3724
Grade: Adult Education Under 21

Mifflin County Online

Phone: (717) 248-0148
Grade: K-8

Mount Union School District Academy Customized Learning

Phone: (814) 542-2518
Grade: K-12

Northwestern Lehigh Digital Academy

Phone: (610) 298-8661 ext. 1275
Grade: K-12

Pen Argyl Area Cyber Academy

Phone: (610) 863-3191
Grade: K-12

Schuylkill County Online Learning

Phone: (570) 544-9131
Grade: K-12

Southeast Delco Cyber Program

Phone: (717) 397-2421
Grade: K-12

Southern York Digital Academy

Phone: (717) 225-4731
Grade: K-12

Steelton-Highspire School Districts Roller Cyber Academy

Phone: (717) 397-2421
Grade: K-12

Tulpehocke Virtual Academy

Phone: (717) 397-2421
Grade: K-12

Agora Cyber Charter School

Phone: (844) 462-4672
Grade: K-12

ASPIRA Bilingual Cyber Charter School

Phone: (215) 455-1300
Grade: K-12

Central Pennsylvania Digital Learning Foundation

Phone: (814) 682-5258
Grade: K-12

Insight PA Cyber Charter School

Phone: (877) 331-9555
Grade: K-12

PA Virtual Charter School

Phone: (866) 728-2751
Grade: K-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.

The Children’s Scholarship Fund of Pennsylvania

The mission of The Children’s Scholarship Fund of Pennsylvania is to ensure a quality education is available to all children in Pennsylvania. Since 1998, The Children’s Scholarship Fund has raised over 13.7 million dollars and has awarded over 12.4 million dollars. Over 95% of contribution dollars received have been awarded as scholarships for families in our region. The Children’s Scholarship Fund awarded 716 scholarships in 2016/2017 school year to 539 families attending 31 schools in 15 Pennsylvania counties.

AAA Scholarship Foundation

AAA Scholarship Foundation works with schools in each of our scholarship states to make Academic Achievement Accessible. We can not do that without excellent schools for families to choose from.

Each state has individual guidelines determined by the laws of that state and the accountability guidelines of the AAA Scholarship Foundation. Please choose your state to view details on school participation.

Black Alliance for Educational Options

The Philadelphia BAEO K-5 Scholarship Program provides Philadelphia’s low-income public-school students with an opportunity to attend a private school.  It also benefits students from low-income families what are already in private schools.  This scholarship program is unique in that it requires students to maintain high academic standards and parents to be active participants in their child’s education.  Awards are presented based on family income, parent involvement and student achievement.  Priority is given to families who are members of BAEO, who have an annual income of less than $30,000 and whose children currently attend public schools.

For more information and for a listing of other scholarship opportunities call 215-851-1795 or visit their web site.

Capstone Legacy Foundation

  • Capstone’s scholarships are for Christian schools, Pre-K through 12th Grades.
  • Scholarship applications are obtained ONLY by attending Capstone’s Parent Engagement Meetings.
  • All parents are required to attend Capstone’s Award Program with their award recipient(s).
  • Parents must apply each year to be eligible to receive a scholarship for the upcoming school year.
  • Receiving an application does not guarantee a scholarship
  • Scholarships applications are distributed by faith in hopes that God would provide funds through businesses in Pennsylvania that take part in the Educational Improvement Tax Program (EITC).
  • Awards are then distributed on a “neediest-first” basis.
  • The amount of the scholarship varies depending on the amount of funding available at the time.  The goal is at least $1,000 per award, although it can be higher or lower.

Charles E. Trust for Girls

Grants from The Ellis Trust are awarded to girls entering grades 9-12 who meet the following criteria:

  • Live in Philadelphia.
  • Live in a household where one or both parents are absent, or mentally or physically disabled.
  • Meet the family income eligibility requirements for reduced-priced lunch under the National School Lunch Program.
  • Have grades of “C” or better in major school subjects.
  • Are making academic progress toward timely graduation.
  • Can prove their dependency status (name appears on their family’s tax return or DPA document).
  • Are in a family that does not own property other than their primary home.

Children’s Jubilee Fund

The Children’s Jubilee Fund exists to provide K-12 educational scholarships for low-income urban children to attend Christian Schools.  Our fund directly impacts K-12 students in our member school network Philadelphia, Norristown, Camden and Chester-Upland.  Schools in the Delaware Valley who meet the standards adopted by the Board apply for and are received into membership.  Scholarship funds are disbursed to Member Schools who select the recipients of the scholarships and administer the funds, according to the policies of the Board.

Children’s Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia

  • Families may apply online 
  • Families must reside within the city of Philadelphia
  • Student must be entering Kindergarten through 8th grade
  • Scholarship amount is based on household size and income
  • Scholarship amounts are for a maximum of $1,960 annually per child, up to three children
  • Scholarship recipients are selected at random.  Only the first 7,000 applications received will be processed and eligible for the CSF Philadelphia scholarship lottery

Faith First Educational Assistance Corporation

Faith First is an organization that brings together families, schools and businesses so local communities can benefit from school choice programs.

Family Choice Scholarship Program

We are a non-profit scholarship organization that receives scholarship donations in order to help Pennsylvania parents send their children to the school of their choice. We operate under the State of Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Law. We also participate in the new Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program.

In order to apply…

  • Families must be residents of the State of Pennsylvania.
  • Families with one dependent child must make no more than $72,000 a year with an increase of $12,000 allowed for each additional dependent child.
  • Students in Pre-K must be enrolled in an EITC Eligible Pennsylvania private Pre-Kindergarten Program.
  • Students in grades K-12 must be enrolled in a Pennsylvania private school.

The Bravo Foundation

Since September 2003, the Foundation has committed millions in scholarship money statewide.  Working with committed, forward thinking companies, the Bravo Foundation has created solid public-private partnerships throughout the state to improve education for children.  The EITC program is the truest example of a public-private partnership.  It gives parents a choice — and children a chance.  

The Bridge Foundation

Bridge Educational Foundation is an independent non-profit organization that provides scholarship opportunities to Pennsylvania’s low-income families. We partner families and schools with businesses and philanthropic leaders to provide scholarships that allow children to attend the school that best meets their educational needs.  

Pennsylvania – Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program

Pennsylvania’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program, enacted and launched in 2012, offers corporations tax credits for their donations to Opportunity Scholarship Organizations (OSOs) that provide private school scholarships. Students who meet the zoning and income requirements can receive those tax-credit scholarships. Learn more about the program, including funding, eligibility and rules, on this page.

Pennsylvania – Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program

The Pennsylvania legislature enacted and launched the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program in 2001. The program offers corporations tax credits for donating to organizations that provide low- and middle-income families private school and prekindergarten scholarships, as well as organizations that support innovative public school programs. Learn more about this program’s funding, eligibility and regulations on this page.

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

Home Education

Your options

In Pennsylvania, you have several legal options under which you may choose to operate your homeschool program. Follow the steps listed below the option you wish to use:

Homeschooling under the homeschool statute:

  • Ensure that you have the required qualifications to teach.
  • File a notarized affidavit.
    • The name of the parent/supervisor, name and age of child, address, and telephone number
    • Assurance that subjects are taught in English
    • Outline of proposed education objectives by subject area
    • Evidence of immunization
    • Evidence of health and medical services required by law
    • Certification that the home education program will comply with 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1
    • A certification that the supervisor, all adults living within the home, and persons having legal custody of the children have not been convicted of certain criminal offenses within the past five years.
  • Provide the required days/hours of instruction and teach the required subjects.
    • 180 days or 900 hours at the elementary school level and 180 days or 990 hours at the secondary level.
  • Maintain a portfolio, including required testing.
  • Have your child evaluated by a qualified evaluator and submit the evaluator’s certification to the superintendent by June 30.

Homeschooling with a private tutor:

  • Utilize a private tutor with the required qualifications.
  • The tutor must file a copy of his or her certification.

Enrolling your child in a satellite of a religious day school:

You may teach your children at home if your home is an extension or satellite of a religious day school. To qualify as a day school, the school must do the following:

  • Provide the required days, hours, and subjects listed above.
    • See “Option 1: Homeschooling under the homeschool statute,” item #3, above.
  • File an affidavit of compliance with the law.
  • Report the names and residences of all enrolled children.

Enrolling your child in a satellite of an accredited day or boarding school:

You may teach your children at home if they are enrolled in an extension or satellite of a day or boarding school that is accredited by an accrediting association approved by the State Board of Education.

Here is what to do if you have a student who has been identified under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as needing special education services (not including those identified as gifted and/or talented):You must have your home education program approved by a state-certified special education teacher or a licensed clinical or certified school psychologist. The written approval must be submitted with your notarized affidavit.

Note: The Pennsylvania Department of Education has taken the position that if you terminate your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), the requirement for approval of your child’s home education program no longer applies, and the school district will not provide services.

Elementary-Level (K–6th grade) Required Courses

  • English, which must include the three subjects below:
  • —Spelling
  • —Reading
  • —Writing
  • Arithmetic
  • Civics
  • History of the U.S. and Pennsylvania
  • Health and physiology
  • Physical education
  • Music
  • Art
  • Geography
  • Science
  • Safety education, which must include instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires

Secondary-Level (7th–12th grade) Required Courses

  • English, which must include the four subjects below:
  • —Language
  • —Literature
  • —Speech
  • —Composition
  • Mathematics, which must include the three subjects below:
  • —General mathematics
  • —Algebra
  • —Geometry
  • Social studies, which must include the three subjects below:
  • —Civics
  • —History of the U.S. and Pennsylvania
  • —World history
  • Health
  • Physical education
  • Music
  • Art
  • Geography
  • Science
  • Safety education, which must include regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires

High School Graduation Requirements

  • 4 credits of English
  • 3 credits of math
  • 3 credits of science
  • 3 credits of social studies
  • 2 credits of art and humanities
Home School Legal Defense Alliance

visit HSLDA website >

Coalition for Responsible Home Education

visit the coalition’s website >

Support Groups

Pennsylvania 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

There is a statewide dual enrollment policy in place. However, program currently inactive due to inadequate state funds.

Learn more >

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