Understanding Ohio’s Educational Options

Contributed by Lisa Huckins, Education Program Specialist, Office of NonPublic Educational Options, Ohio Department of Education

Ohio’s education system recognizes that every child learns differently. There is no single education environment that works best for all children. Ohio offers a variety of choices in education. This guide is a general overview of educational options.

Education Options You Can Explore

Local Public Schools – All Ohio students have the option to enroll in their local public school. Students are usually assigned to a neighborhood school based on the address of their home. The Ohio Department of Taxation’s website has a tool called The Finder that allows you to enter your address and find the name of your local public school district.

Open Enrollment –Students may be able to attend school in a neighboring district even though their parents are not residents. Each school district in Ohio decides whether to allow open enrollment. If it is allowed, the district creates a process, such as lottery or first-come, first-served, so that all students who apply have a fair chance for the spaces available in a grade level. Families must contact an open enrollment district for its process and follow it.

Community/Charter Schools – Enrollment into this option is the decision of the family and does not require permission from the home school district. These schools are Ohio public schools and are free to Ohio residents. Community/Charter schools can be a physical school building OR on-line e-schools. 

Private Schools – Private (nonpublic) schools are run by private organizations. Parents pay tuition for children to attend these schools. Private schools may set admission requirements for students.

For information about how legal rights may differ for students with disabilities in private vs. public schools, see the guide, Private Schools and Students with Special Needs.

Scholarships – Ohio provides scholarships to students attending low-performing public schools that can be used to pay for tuition at private schools. There are also scholarships available for families who are considered low income, and students that are eligible for special education. For more information about the various scholarships and eligibility criteria, see the ODE site as well as these resources:

Home Schooling – Families can decide to provide education themselves to their children. Home schooling requires the approval of the district superintendent and must be approved each school year, along with an assessment of the student’s performance.

Career-Technical Education - Programs are available to middle and high school students in Ohio’s Career-Technical Planning Districts (CTPDs).  Programs are provided within traditional district schools, Joint Vocational School Districts and in some charter schools. Information about CTE programs and their entrance requirements should be obtained from the school administrator or guidance counselor. Career-Technical Education Programs help prepare students for college and careers, offering many industry credentials and an opportunity for students to earn their high school diploma, while also earning college credits.

Credit Flexibility is an option for a student to earn high school credit outside of the traditional classroom. The plan for the credit is developed by the student, the school and the family. Start first with your school counselor to discuss your student’s course idea and what is needed to earn the credit.

College Credit Plus allows a student to attend a college course and earn college credits while in high school. This potentially saves time and money for families in college. Contact your school counselor about this option.

To learn more about each of these educational options, go to the Ohio Department of Education’s website

To search for schools in your area and learn more about them, go to the Department’s Find a School interactive tool.

Missy Toms