Alternative Schooling

In addition to the state's more than 1,000 public school districts, Texas offers a variety of alternative schooling options for parents. These include charter schools, which are monitored and accredited under the statewide testing and accountability system; private schools, which may or may not be accredited through various organizations; and home schooling, which is not accredited or regulated by any state agency in Texas or commission. Families may also be interested in online learning programs and high school equivalency programs. For more information on each of these alternative schooling options, follow the links below:

Charter Schools
In 1995, the 74th Texas Legislature passed legislation giving the state the authority to create open-enrollment charter schools. These schools are subject to fewer state laws than other public schools with the idea of ensuring fiscal and academic accountability without undue regulation of instructional methods or pedagogical innovation. Like school districts, charter schools are monitored and accredited under the statewide testing and accountability system.

Private Schools (outside source)
TEA does not have oversight of private schools in Texas; however, the agency works with the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission to ensure that students can easily transfer from non-public to public schools and that teacher service at non-public schools is recognized at public schools for salary purposes. Private schools may be accredited by a variety of organizations, but many private schools in Texas are not accredited by any organization.

Home Schooling
In 1995, the Texas Supreme Court affirmed the decision in the class action lawsuit Leeper v Arlington Independent. School District that home schools can legally operate as private schools in Texas. According to the ruling, home schools must be conducted in a bona fide manner, using a written curriculum consisting of reading, spelling, grammar, math, and a course in good citizenship. The Texas Education Agency has no regulatory authority over home schools, and the state of Texas does not award diplomas to students who are home schooled.

Texas Virtual Schools Network
Texas Virtual Schools Network (TxVSN), which launched in 2009, provides Texas students and schools access to interactive, collaborative, instructor-led online courses taught by state-certified and appropriately credentialed teachers. The TxVSN is made up of two components: the TxVSN statewide course catalog, which provides supplemental online courses to students in grades 8-12; and the TxVSN online schools program, which offers full-time virtual instruction through eligible public schools to Texas public school students in grades 3-12.

High School Equivalency Program (HSEP)
The In-School High School Equivalency Program is designed to provide an alternative for high school students age 16 and over who are at risk of not graduating from high school and earning a high school diploma.

Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency
Anyone aged 18 and older who has not earned a high school diploma and is not currently enrolled in an accredited high school is eligible to earn a Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency. Any exceptions must meet eligibility requirements to test for the high school equivalency.