New Survey: School Choice is K–12 Education’s “New Normal”

Imagine finding a school or learning environment where your child learns, thrives, succeeds, and is truly happy. In record numbers, moms and dads across the U.S. are doing more than just imagining. They are considering, searching for, and finding new schools that best meet their kids’ needs.

The National School Choice Awareness Foundation’s January 2–4, 2024, survey of 2,595 U.S. parents reveals that in a post-pandemic world, U.S. parents increasingly see school choice as a “new normal.” Among moms and dads across America:

  • 72% considered new schools for their children last year compared to 52% in 2022. That’s a 35% relative increase.
  •  64% of parents saying they wish they had more information about education options for their children
  • Only 29% say that the same school type works well for all of their children in their home.

Scroll through to learn more and discover how, in a post-pandemic world, families are spending more time than ever finding the right educational fits for their children.

Takeaway #1: Demand for school choice surged last year.

When parents exercise their school choice options, they usually take three important steps: considering making a change, then searching for new schooling options, and finally, enrolling their child in a new school if they find the right fit. The percentage of parents who participated in these school choice steps surged from 2023, with 72% of parents indicating that they’d at least considered new schools, compared to 52% of parents in 2023.

School Choice StepsConsidered a new schoolSearched for a new schoolEnrolled in a new school
All parents72%63%44%
Black parents76%67%47%
Hispanic parents66%57%38%
White parents73%64%43%

What it means: In 2023, 20 states expanded school choice, and parents want in. According to our survey, 58% of parents saw school choice options expand in their states last year.

Takeaway #2: America’s parents know that school choice is expanding––and they are talking about it.

Parents have not missed the news about recent school choice expansions. In fact, 58% of moms and dads say their state now offers greater education options. Meanwhile, half of parents say tht they have talked with friends or family about school choice within the last week or month. Awareness is leading to demand, both for school choice and for information––with 57% of parents indicating they are likely to think about, consider, search for, or choose new schools for their children this year, and 64% of parents saying they wish they had more information about education options for their children.

Race/EthnicityAware of state-level school choice expansionsRecently talked about school choice with family and friendsConsidering exercising school choice options in 2024Want more information about school choice options
All parents58%50%57%64%
Black parents61%50%63%68%
Hispanic parents53%46%53%70%
White parents60%55%56%61%

Takeaway #3: Parents know that in schooling, one size doesn’t fit all.

For families with more than one child, “multiple school choice” households––where parents send their children to different types of schools––are increasingly prevalent. Only 29% of parents say that the same school type works well for all of their children. Meanwhile, a majority of U.S. parents send their children to different types of schools than the ones they attended when they were growing up.

Race/EthnicityChild attends different type of school than parent attendedSiblings in same household attend different types of schools
All parents59%43%
Black parents59%39%
Hispanic parents57%39%
White parents59%43%

What it means: Parents know their children best, and finding the right school fit––not just a preferred school type––is paramount. More than 50% of parents say they have talked about these schooling decisions within the last week or month.

Other Findings

  • Demand for school choice is growing among dads, with 67% indicating that they searched for a new school for at least one of their children last year, compared with 54% of fathers who searched for schools for their kids in 2023.
  • School choice is far from partisan, at least when it comes to parents making choices. Parents who identified as Democrats chose new schools for their children last year at higher rates than Republican parents––56% to 40%.
  • Traditional public schools remain popular among school searching families, with 51% of parents who considered new schools indicating that they visited, inquired about, or researched their local public schools.

Full question summaries, methodology, and more are available in our survey report. If you’re interested in crosstabs, please contact our team at pressoffice@schoolchoiceweek.com.

The NSCAF team is grateful to Paul DiPerna and EdChoice for lending their expertise to this survey’s question design.

We invite you to share the results of this survey with your subscribers, followers, and other audiences.

If you are a journalist reporting on education matters, we encourage you to explore our press page.

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Alissa Jacques

Manager, Digital Communications

Alissa Jacques serves as manager of digital communications at the National School Choice Awareness Foundation (NSCAF). In this role, Alissa oversees the organization’s English-language social media presence and develops high-impact advertising campaigns to inform, inspire, and empower parents about their K–12 education options.

Previously, Alissa owned her own digital marketing agency, served as an adjunct writing professor at Bloomfield College, and spent two years as an elementary school teacher at Democracy Preparatory Charter School in New York.

Alissa attended both public and private schools as a child, where she developed a love for creative writing. She holds a bachelor of arts in education policy and entrepreneurship from New York University, and a master of arts in sociology of education from Teachers College at Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, scrolling through TikTok, and exploring NYC with her husband and cavapoo, Russ.