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K-12 School Choices

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See a list of important links about open houses, enrollment and applications processes, school schedules and much more at the various types of schools in the Greater Memphis area.

Public: Traditional

All students in Shelby County are zoned to a neighborhood public school and have a right to a seat in that school. But you can also choose another traditional public school if it seems like a better fit (and the school has space). There are no academic entrance requirements for traditional public schools. All public schools are tuition-free and follow state-established guidelines for standards, safety, and evaluation.

Public: Optional 

The Shelby County School Optional Program has a longstanding legacy of excellence in Shelby County. Free of tuition, these schools provide creative and rigorous coursework and extra-curricular programs led by teachers who inspire and challenge high-performing students to achieve their best. Each of the schools has a specialized learning focus, such as Enriched Academics, College Prep, International Studies, International Baccalaureate (IB), Creative & Performing Arts, Health Science, Automotive Technology and more. Entrance requirements vary by school program.  

Spots in some Optional Schools are in high demand, so if there’s one you have your heart set on, you’ll want to pay close attention to all of the application deadlines and admission requirements.

Public: iZone Schools

The Innovation Zone, or iZone, is a subset of Shelby County Schools designed to turn around underperforming schools. The mission of the iZone is to move schools from the bottom 5% to the top 25% in the state of Tennessee. These schools provide an environment in which innovative strategies and systems are implemented in order to increase student achievement and ensure college and career readiness for our students.

Public: Charter Schools

Charter schools are public schools, and do not charge tuition. Local school districts authorize charters to open schools, but do not run them. Charters make their own decisions about things like curriculum, how to hire teachers (though all must be state-certified), and even the length of the school day or year. 

  • Shelby County School charters All SCS charters enroll separately, using unique timelines and procedures. In other words, there’s no standardization in when they begin accepting applications. We provide enrollment details on each charter school’s profile page, when they give it to us, but if you don’t find it here, call the school early to ask.
  • Achievement School District charters Most ASD charters, though not all, have attendance zones, and priority is given to students living within that zone. But in some cases, you can select an ASD school that you’re not zoned to. ASD charters that don’t have enrollment zones act more like SCS charters — they typically each do their own thing. 

Private Schools

Private schools do not receive money from the state, so they fund operations by charging tuition. Many private schools offer some form of financial aid. They’re typically run by an independent body (like a school board or the Catholic Diocese). Because they’re exempt from direct state oversight and testing, they have the freedom to choose their own standards and educational approach. While the majority of private schools in Memphis have a religious affiliation, there are also a number of non-religious schools focusing on a wide variety of methodologies and approaches.