A major reason that RootED NWA exists is that we saw many parents who were under-resourced when it came to education opportunities for their children. Either they were unaware of the options available, or they had misconceptions about various options, which led them to not explore certain paths for their children.
These are the current educational environment options available in the state of Arkansas:
- Traditional Public Schools
- Charter Schools
- Private Schools
- Independent Schools
- Virtual Schools
- Home School
Educators from all educational environments are actively researching innovative opportunities and methods for their respective students. Our services help bridge the gap between parents and the schools so that all parties are working together cohesively towards better solutions for each individual child.
The information below provides the preliminary descriptions for each of the different educational environments available to families with children in grades kindergarten through 12th grade. As an organization, our role is this process to provide information that will assist parents in deciding which school is the best fit for their child. Therefore, we will never advocate for one school or educational environment over another.
Traditional Public Schools
This educational environment is the traditional public school system that is divided into school districts with state-established boundary lines. The state education system is funded primarily through property tax collections with 25 mills going towards the state, which is then distributed to each district on a per-student basis. The remaining mills are used according to the annual budget approved by each respective school board.
All public schools in Arkansas offer their services at no additional cost to families. Families can choose to apply for in-district transfers (transfers to a different school in their school district) or out-of-district transfers to a different school district. The student’s acceptance into a different school or district must be approved by the receiving board of education.
Charter schools are public schools of choice that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools, including, in many cases, the residency requirement. The charter establishing each such school is a performance contract detailing the school’s mission, program, goals, students served and assessment methods.
Arkansas allows for two different types of public charter schools:
- Open-Enrollment Charter Schools: school created by a governmental entity, an institution of higher learning or a tax-exempt non-sectarian organization. Open enrollment schools can enroll students from across district boundaries.
- District Conversion Charter Schools: public school converted to a public charter school. Conversion schools can only enroll students from within its school district’s boundaries.
There are no additional tuition costs to attend a public charter school.
Private schools in Arkansas offer a variety of educational environments that are not controlled or funded by the Arkansas Department of Education. A majority of Arkansas private schools have a religious affiliation, but not all. The ADE provides funding for entitlement services to students attending private schools who choose to accept funding and abide by the regulations of such funding. Arkansas private schools must be accredited by the Arkansas Nonpublic School Accrediting Association, Inc. (ANSAA). Many private schools have authorized dual accreditations with other organizations.
Private schools require a tuition but many also offer scholarship opportunities to qualifying families.
Independent schools are private, non-profit entities that establish their own educational mission and is governed by its own board of directors. Although independent schools must be accredited by a state-approved organization, it is not required to prepare students for state-mandated or other standardized assessments.
This unconventionality allows an independent school the freedom to develop its curriculum and learning goals in a way that advances the organization’s mission.
Students must be selected through an admissions process that is designated by the board of directors. Each school has its own tuition and scholarship structure.
Various forms of online learning is available and the options have various names including digital learning, online learning, or virtual learning. Arkansas has several virtual learning academies and many institutions of higher education offer online learning options for high school level courses. The tuition and fees vary based on the provider. Some options are tuition-free while others have costs associated.
Northwest Arkansas has a thriving homeschool community, including support groups and co-learning organizations that allow homeschool students to experience a classroom atmosphere and the parents take turns teaching the various subject matters. Parents who choose to homeschool must apply for a waiver from the Arkansas Department of Education.
Do you have more questions about the types of education environment options available in Northwest Arkansas? Contact us for help.