There are three (3) main categories of schools for children in the United States: public, private, and charter schools.
Public schools are free of charge and are run by the state of Texas through independent school districts with elected boards. Your Houston home address establishes what school district and which school your child is to attend. The quality of the schools may vary. These schools are required by law to provide special services for children with disabilities of most kinds. Some Public schools also offer special programs for gifted children. These special programs can accept children who qualify even if their home address indicates that their child should attend a different school. Examples of such special programs in the Houston Independent School District are:
- Magnet programs for specific educational areas (for example Math & Science, the Arts, and Health Sciences). These programs have an application process. Student applications are reviewed and those who qualify are accepted. This process usually occurs once per school year.
- Vanguard programs for gifted and talented students who meet the required criteria, apply, and are accepted.
A Map of Houston area School Districts can be found at Texas Best Schools Map
If then you would like information about a specific school district and those schools, do a web search for that particular school district (for example “Clear Creek Independent School District”)
Private schools are run by organizations and have a special mission. Some, but not all are religious-based. Some operate to fulfill specialized curriculum needs. Almost every Private school requires that the family pays tuition for their child to attend. These schools typically require an application process. Upon receipt of the application, the school determines if your child is accepted. Some private schools offer rigorous academic programs and may have applicant waiting lists. Religious schools offer an academic curriculum within the context of a specific religious tradition (for example Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Jewish). Also, there are Private International Schools (for example, The British School of Awty International) that offer programs designed to facilitate reentry into schools in the country of origin.
For information on Private schools in the Houston area, go to this website: Houston Private Schools
Charter schools are schools funded by governmental money but privately run. The purpose of charter schools is to provide an opportunity for more uniquely and often more individually tailored learning environments for students. The qualities of these schools vary. They are usually free. There is an application process with the school making the final determination as to whether or not they will accept any particular child.
University of Houston Contact Person: Angie Grindon.