(December 2023) Nearly 115,000 Arkansas students attend charter, home or private schools, or are enrolled in a public school choice program in the current school year, state Department of Education and other records show.

“The most callused aspect of the current education monopoly in Arkansas is that it willingly and deliberately forces children–except those whose parents have wealth–to attend bad schools.”Arkansas Policy Foundation, 1998

The niche school choice market has grown from 66,627 students (2013)(1) to 114,007 in the 2023-24 school year. Factors contributing to growth include dissatisfaction with public schools deemed ‘failing’ in letter-grade surveys, technology that makes distance learning feasible, and religious affiliations.

Charters Are Largest Group

School choice has advanced since Policy Foundation analysts Allyson Tucker and Donna Watson wrote their landmark 1996 study (2) recommending charters as an education reform. Students enrolled in charters total 42,261, an increase from the 2022-23 school year when 41,300 students were enrolled.

Education department records show 26,357 students enrolled in public open-enrollment charters in the current school year. An open-enrollment charter is operated by “a governmental entity, an institution of higher learning or a tax-exempt non-sectarian organization,” according to the education department.

Another 15,904 students are enrolled in public district conversion charters this year. A conversion school “is a public school converted to a public charter school. Conversion schools can only draw students from within the school district’s boundaries,” the department explains on its site.(3)

Home Schools Are Second Largest Group

Students attending home schools are the second largest group. Educational research shows 25,862 students were enrolled in the 2022-23 school year. (4)

Public School Choice

Another 24,644 “are currently enrolled in a traditional public school district via school choice “this school year, a department communication explains.(5) The program allows students to transfer to another public school district.

Private Schools: Slight Increase

Private school enrollment increased to 21,240 in the current school year, data from the non-profit Arkansas Nonpublic School Accrediting Association shows.(6) There were 19,932 students enrolled in private schools last year.

— Greg Kaza


(1) “Arkansas School Choice Market Expands” (Policy Foundation Research memo) February 2014

(2) Tucker, Allyson and Donna Watson. Arkansas’ Weak Charter School Law: Failing The Grade (Policy Foundation study) 1996

(3) https://adedata.arkansas.gov/statewide/ReportList/Schools/EnrollmentCount.aspx

(4) The education department has not released its 2023-24 home school report. https://education.jhu.edu/edpolicy/policy-research-initiatives/homeschool-hub/states/arkansas

(5) https://adedate.arkansas.gov/Statewide/ReportList/State/SchoolChoice.aspx

(6) www.ansaa.com/uploads/2/6/1/3/26134429/ansaa_directory_2023-2024.pdf


Open Enrollment Charter Schools

Academics Plus 1,921; Arkansas Arts Academy 1,004; Arkansas Connections Academy  3,804; Arkansas Military and First Responders Academy 80; Arkansas Virtual Academy 3,937; ESTEM 2,739; Exalt Academy of Southwest Little Rock  749; Founders Classical Academies of Arkansas 1,719; Friendship Aspire Academies of Arkansas 1,307; Future School of Fort Smith 219; Graduate Arkansas 490; Haas Hall Academy 1,422; Hope Academy of Northwest Arkansas 26; Hope Academy of Public Service 226; Imboden Area Charter School  68; Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter Schools 434;KIPP Delta  1,262; LISA Academy 4,015; Premier High Schools 347; Premier High School Online 277; The Excel Center  222; and Westwind School for Performing Arts 89.

Conversion Charter Schools

Academies at Rivercrest High School 346; Academies of West Memphis 944; Adventure Online Academy (Waldron) 33; Batesville Charter High School  997; Batesville Charter Junior High School 742; Bauxite Miner Academy 9; Cabot Panther Academy 350; Cave City High Career & Collegiate Prep School 59; Cave City Middle School Career & Collegiate Prep 279; Centerpoint Academy of Agricultural & Skilled Trades 18; Cross County Elementary Technology Academy 383; Cross County High School, A New Tech School 312; Don Tyson School of Innovation (Springdale) 2,022; Driven Virtual Academy (Pulaski County Special) 218; Fayetteville Virtual Academy 129; Fort Smith Virtual Academy 133; Fountain Lake Charter High School  359; Fountain Lake Middle Cobra Digital Prep Academy 405; Guy Berry College & Career Academy (Mountain Home) 74; Hot Springs Junior Academy 795; Hot Springs World Class High School  767; Lincoln High School  359; Mountain Home High School Career Academies 1,517; Mountainburg Middle School Brain Academy 14;2 North Little Rock Center of Excellence  465; Polk County Virtual Academy (Mena) 15; Prairie Grove High School  595; River Valley Virtual Academy (Van Buren) 105; Rivercrest Junior High Prep Academy 185; Siloam Springs High Conversion Charter  1,449; Southside Charter High School (Independence County) 444; Southside Junior High (Independence County) 437; Vilonia Pathways Academy 173; and Warren Middle School  344.