Education Commission of the States researched open enrollment policies in all states to provide this comprehensive resource. Click on the questions below for 50-State Comparisons showing how all states approach specific open enrollment policies. View a specific state’s approach by going to the state profiles page.

Key Takeaways

  • Forty-seven states plus the District of Columbia have state policies addressing open enrollment in some way.
  • Open enrollment policies allow a student to transfer to the public school of his or her choice. There are two basic types of open enrollment policies.
    • Intradistrict: Students transfer to another school within their resident school district.
    • Interdistrict: Students transfer a school outside of their resident district.
  • Depending on the state, open enrollment policies are either mandatory or voluntary.
    • Mandatory policies require districts to participate in open enrollment.
    • Voluntary policies allow districts to choose whether to participate in open enrollment, often allowing districts the discretion to enter into transfer agreements with other districts.
  • Several states have both mandatory and voluntary policies. This usually means requiring mandatory open enrollment in low-performing districts, in defined regions of the state or in other specific circumstances while allowing voluntary open enrollment in the rest of the state.
  • In a few states, open enrollment is a function of geographic access to schools. For example, Montana and Georgia both require open enrollment for students facing lengthy transportation time or geographic barriers to attending their assigned schools.

50-State Comparisons

  1. Does the state have open enrollment programs?
  2. Do desegregation provisions impact open enrollment programs?
  3. Does the state set priorities for districts to follow when accepting students for open enrollment?
  4. Who is responsible for student transportation?
  5. Open Enrollment 50-State Report – All Data Points

Related Resources

Policy Snapshot: Open Enrollment
Open Enrollment Quick Guide
Open Enrollment: Overview and 2016 legislative update

 PUBLISHED: October 30, 2018




 STATE(S): Nationwide

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