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 Steps Considered a new school Searched for a new school Enrolled in a new school
All parents 72% 63% 44%
Black parents 76% 67% 47%
Hispanic parents 66% 57% 38%
White parents 73% 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/Ethnicity Aware of state-level school choice expansions Recently talked about school choice with family and friends Considering exercising school choice options in 2024 Want more information about school choice options
All parents 58% 50% 57% 64%
Black parents 61% 50% 63% 68%
Hispanic parents 53% 46% 53% 70%
White parents 60% 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/Ethnicity Child attends different type of school than parent attended Siblings in same household attend different types of schools
All parents 59% 43%
Black parents 59% 39%
Hispanic parents 57% 39%
White parents 59% 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

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’re looking for information about school options for your family, we recommend checking out our Ultimate Guides and State Guides for each sector. If you are a journalist reporting on education matters, we encourage you to explore our coverage resources.