People relocating to Denver with children will be pleased to find that education is highly valued in the state of Colorado, evidenced in the fact that Denver has one of the highest per capita education levels in the US.
There is plenty of choice when it comes to schooling options in Denver. There are several primary and secondary school options at both private and public institutions, including charter and magnet schools. There are also some international schools in Denver that follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme and various other foreign curricula.
Public schools in Denver
Public schools in Denver are free to attend and open to all students, including expats. New arrivals will also be please to know that Denver is home to some of the best public schools in the state of Colorado.
On top of this, public schools in Denver offer open enrolment, which means that students can apply for the school of their choice. In effect, parents who choose to send their child to a public school in Denver won’t be limited by geographic location and can instead select a school for their child based on individual student needs. As part of the application process, parents submit forms listing their top five school choices. Schools then admit students based on space availability.
Charter and magnet schools
Charter schools are institutions that receive funding from the local district and the state of Colorado. While these schools uphold the state curriculum, they have a greater degree of freedom when it comes to teaching methods. Charter schools tend to be more innovative and flexible than traditional public schools.
Magnet schools are public schools with specialised courses or curricula, in areas such as science or the arts. They're associated with high achievement and cultural diversity. These schools attract a range of students from all over the Denver metro area.
Both Charter and Magnet schools are good options for parents looking for an affordable but elevated standard of education for their children. That said, admission can be competitive and waiting lists can be long – lottery systems are often used to confirm enrolment.
Private and international schools in Denver
There are a large number of private schools in metro Denver which tend to offer a wider range of facilities than are usually found at public schools. Many of these schools offer education based on a particular religion or alternative teaching philosophy. There are also those which teach a foreign curriculum, known as international schools.
International schools are often a good choice for expats, particularly those who are only planning to stay in Denver for a short period. Though fees are typically high, attending an international school allows expat children to meet other international students and assists them in being better equipped in making the transition to life in Denver.
The majority of international schools in the Denver metro area follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum and a number of these schools offer language immersion classes.
Homeschooling in Denver
The state of Colorado provides parents with some flexibility in how they choose to homeschool their children, but it's important to understand the requirements families need to follow before choosing an option.
The basic laws for homeschooling in Denver is that all students aged 6 to sixteen need to attend school 172 days a year. Reading, writing, speaking, maths, history, literature, science, civics and US constitution are all compulsory classes. Aside from these musts, parents will have three options when it comes to homeschooling.
The first option is to enrol the child in an independent school, which serves as an 'umbrella' for homeschoolers. Though the child is enrolled at the school, they can still be taught at home. The school must keep records of the child's education. Under this option, parents won't have to send notices to the school district, keep attendance or worry about testing and evaluation.
Secondly, there's the traditional home-based programme. For this option, parents are required to file a homeschool letter of intent to their state school district at least two weeks before homeschooling begins. They then have to file this letter annually until their child finishes school. Students also need to be tested regularly by taking a standardised test or being evaluated by a certified teacher or licensed psychologist to show their academic progress. Parents will also have to keep strict records of attendance and testing or evaluation results.
Finally, parents can choose to hire a Colorado state-certified teacher to teach their children at their home. With this option parents are exempt from requirements like recording attendance and testing.
Homeschooling in Denver may feel like a daunting task, but there are many groups and organisations that can support parents in this journey like the Northern Colorado Homeschool Association.
Special-needs education in Denver
Denver's education system is well equipped to provide for students with learning and developmental disabilities. There are multiple federal laws in place to ensure that children with disabilities have fair access to quality education at no cost.
Both public and private schools in the city have special programmes in place to support students with learning difficulties and disabilities. In cases where a person’s disability is too severe for them to benefit from mainstream education, there are special education facilities that are able to offer students with a special-needs programme tailored to meet their specific requirements.
Tutoring in Denver
Whether a child has fallen behind in maths class, needs help with adjusting to English language instruction, or is in need of additional support to help prepare them for their college entrance exams, there are plenty of private tutors in Denver. There are also many schools in the city that offer tutoring or academic assistance to their students either for free or at a discounted rate.
It’s wise to start the search for a tutor by asking the child’s school or other parents in the area for a recommendation. Alternatively, one could utilise the services of established tutoring companies. These companies offer an array of packages from subject-specific intensive programmes to one-on-one home tuition and small group sessions. Wash Park Tutors and Varsity Tutors are two such companies.
Are you an expat living in Denver?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Denver. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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