School Choice Policies

Charter School Choice

Does the state have charter schools?

Are for-profit charter schools or management companies allowed?


A charter shall not be granted to a for-profit corporation. A charter management organization is defined as "a nonprofit entity that manages or operates two (2) or more public charter schools."

49-13-106. Creation or conversion of charter schools.

49-13-104. Chapter definitions.

Is there a cap on the number of charter schools?

Did not find-

We did not find information about caps on charter schools in Tennessee statutes. However, Education Commission of the States states that Tennessee does not have caps on charters.

Education Commission of the States 50-State Comparison

Are charters required to provide transportation for any students?


A charter can choose whether it will provide transportation for its pupils. At the time of enrollment, the charter shall provide the child's parent or guardian with information regarding transportation.

49-13-114. (a-c). Transportation.

Can charter schools employ uncertified teachers?


All teachers in a public charter school must hold a valid Tennessee educator license.

49-13-111(j). Compliance.

Virtual School Choice

Do state statutes allow for full-time virtual schools?


Virtual public schools are permitted. "'Virtual school' means a public school in which the school uses technology in order to deliver a significant portion of instruction to its students via the Internet in a virtual or remote setting." Virtual charter schools are not allowed.

Title 49, Chapter 16 Virtual Education and the Virtual Public Schools Act.
49-13-106.(d) Creation or conversion of charter schools.

Are virtual schools required to track attendance?

Did not find

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


A teacher shall be qualified to teach in the state under existing law.

49-16-208. Qualifications of teachers

Private School Choice

Does the state have voucher programs?


Tennessee statutes allow for the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program. The state will provide vouchers to fund tuition and supplemental educational services for low- to middle-income families in Memphis and Nashville whose children choose to attend private schools beginning in 2021-2022.

49-6-2601 through 49-6-2612: Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program

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?

Did not find-

"'Participating school' means a private school, as defined by § 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(iii), that meets the requirements established by the department of education and the state board of education for a Category I, II, or III private school, and that seeks to enroll eligible students."

49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(iii): "'Private school' means a school accredited by, or a member of, an organization or association approved by the state board of education as an organization accrediting or setting academic requirements in schools, or that has been approved by the state, or is in the future approved by the commissioner in accordance with rules promulgated by the state board of education."


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


"The number of participating students enrolled in the program must not exceed:

  1. For the first school year of operation, five thousand (5,000) students;
  2. For the second school year of operation, seven thousand five hundred (7,500) students;
  3. For the third school year of operation, ten thousand (10,000) students;
  4. For the fourth school year of operation, twelve thousand five hundred (12,500) students; and
  5. For the fifth school year of operation, and for each school year thereafter, fifteen thousand (15,000) students."

However, if the number of applications is less than 75% of available slots, the cap number will stay the same until the number of applicants exceeds 75%.

49-6-2604 (c)&(d)

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


"As a condition of participating in the program, participating students in grades three through eleven (3-11) must be annually administered the Tennessee comprehensive assessment program (TCAP) tests for math and English language arts, or successor tests authorized by the state board of education for math and English language arts."

49-6-2606 (a)(1)

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


"The state board shall promulgate rules allowing the department to suspend or terminate a participating school's participation in the program due to low academic performance, as determined by the department."


Are private schools in voucher programs required to provide transportation?

Did not find

Interdistrict School Choice

Does the state have interdistrict choice programs?


"Local boards of education may admit pupils from outside their respective local school systems. Local boards of education may also arrange for the transfer of pupils residing within their systems to schools located outside their districts, and enter into agreements with other local boards of education for the admission or transfer of pupils from one school system to another."

49-6-3104.(a): Transfer of students.

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


"If the choice is for a school other than the one to which the student is normally zoned, the student may be required to provide personal transportation."

49-6-3104.(e): Transfer of students.

Page last updated: January 2021

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.