School Choice Policies

Charter School Choice

Does the state have charter schools?

Are for-profit charter schools or management companies allowed?


Charters in Massachusetts are granted only to the charter school's proposed board of trustees, an independent state public body.

We did not find mention of whether charters are allowed to contract with for-profit education service providers:
"[I]f the charter school intends to procure substantially all educational services under contract with another person, the terms of such a contract must be approved by the board either as part of the original charter or by way of an amendment thereto; provided, further that the board shall not approve any such contract terms, the purpose or effect of which is to avoid the prohibition of this section against charter school status for private and parochial schools"

A Massachusetts policy expert stated that while charters must be non-profit, charter boards can contract with for-profit management partners.

Section 89(c)

Questions and Answers about Charter Schools in Massachusetts

Section 89(k)(5)

Is there a cap on the number of charter schools?


"Not more than 120 charter schools shall be allowed to operate in the commonwealth at any time, excluding those approved pursuant to paragraph (3); provided, however, that of the 120 charter schools, not more than 48 shall be Horace Mann charter schools and not more than 72 shall be commonwealth charter schools. The state board may not approve a new commonwealth charter school in any community with a population of less than 30,000 unless it is a regional charter school. In any year, the state board of education may approve only 1 regional charter school located in a school district where overall student performance on the statewide assessment system is in the top 10% in the year preceding charter application."

Section 89 (i)(1)

Are charters required to provide transportation for any students?


"The students who reside in the school district in which the charter school is located shall be provided transportation to the charter school by the resident district's school committee on similar terms and conditions as transportation is provided to students attending local district schools if the transportation is requested by the charter school. However, that in the event that a school committee limits transportation for district school students, the school district shall not be required to provide transportation to any commonwealth charter school beyond the limitations."

Section 89 (cc)

Can charter schools employ uncertified teachers?


"No teacher shall be hired by a commonwealth charter school who is not certified pursuant to section 38G unless the teacher has successfully passed the state teacher test as required in said section 38G."

Section 89 (ii)

Virtual School Choice

Do state statutes allow for full-time virtual schools?


Commonwealth virtual schools are public schools operated by a board of trustees whose teachers primarily teach from a remote location using the internet or other computer-based methods and whose students are not required to be located at the physical premises of the school.

Section 94: Commonwealth virtual schools

Are virtual schools required to track attendance?


The annual report of the commonwealth virtual school should include "information regarding and a discussion of student attendance and participation." Also, the commissioner should provide a report on impact of the virtual school, and the report should include "information on course completion and student attendance and participation rates."

Section 94 (m)(5)
Section 94 (p)(3)

Do virtual schools have to comply with state teacher certification requirements?


No teacher shall be hired by a commonwealth virtual school who is not certified pursuant to section 38G.

Section 94 (i)

Private School Choice

Does the state have voucher programs?


No voucher programs found.

EdChoice School Choice in America

Does the state have educational expense tuition tax credits or deductions?


No educational expense tax credits or deductions found.

EdChoice School Choice in America

Can students use vouchers to attend religious schools?

Not Applicable

Is there a cap on the number of students or private schools participating in voucher programs?

Not Applicable

Are voucher students in private schools required to take any standardized tests?

Not Applicable

Can private schools be removed from voucher programs based on performance?

Not Applicable

Are private schools in voucher programs required to provide transportation?

Not Applicable

Interdistrict School Choice

Does the state have interdistrict choice programs?


"Any child, with the consent of the school committee of the town where he resides, may attend, at the expense of said town, the public schools of another town, upon such terms as may be fixed by the two committees."

Section 12: Attendance outside place of residence

Are receiving schools or districts required to provide transportation to any students?


There is a school choice transportation reimbursement program for pupils eligible for free or reduced price lunches. "The types of transportation to be reimbursed pursuant to said program shall include, but need not be limited to, the following: (1) transportation by school buses provided by the sending or receiving district; (2) transportation provided by the parent or guardian of the child; (3) transportation provided by public transportation."

Section 12B (i)

Page last updated: December 2020

Click here to download the State Policy Spreadsheet. Click here to download the State Policy Map Data Memo.

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The State Policy Map provides a snapshot of school choice policy found in laws passed by the legislative bodies, for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., based on information gathered from state statutes in fall 2019; data checks continued through December 2020. Information on this site may not include the most up-to-date policy information. The State Policy Map does not systematically reflect state Department of Education administrative policies, rules, or regulations. All content on this site is provided for informational purposes only. Links to third-party websites are for the user’s convenience; neither REACH nor any affiliated entities endorse the contents of third-party sites.

Note: On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Montana's exclusion of religious schools from the state's tax credit scholarship program was unconstitutional (Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue 591). The responses to the question "Can students use vouchers to attend religious schools?" were collected before this ruling and therefore do not reflect any changes resulting from the Espinoza decision.