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School Choice in Ohio

The Evolution of School Choice in Ohio

Over time, education options in Ohio have expanded more and more. Beginning with private education that started hundreds of years ago to more recently created online schools, Ohio's options have grown to include options that meet student needs and reflect the times of each era.

Through the laws below, Ohio policymakers have built the skeleton of school choice that parents and educators have built on for the past 230+ years.

Private Education

Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-35-12

1780 - The earliest school for American settlers opened in Marietta soon after Ohio Company settlers arrived.

Public Education

Ohio Constitution: Article 6
Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3300
Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301

1829 - Ohio’s first public school districts began forming.

1850 - The requirement for the state to provide for a system of common schools was included in the newly rewritten state constitution, where it has remained ever since.

Career-Technical Education

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3303.
Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-61

1828 – The City of Cincinnati opened Ohio’s first vocational school -- the Cincinnati Mechanic’s Institute.

1907 - The state legislature passed the Tuttle Bill, which empowered local school boards to establish and maintain manual training and commercial departments in connection with the local school system.

1917 - Ohio appointed the first State Board of Vocational Education, which entitled Ohio to federal funding for vocational education under the federal Smith-Hughes Act.


Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3321.04
Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-34

1960s and 1970s - Homeschooling in Ohio and the United States became a popular trend among liberal-leaning families who began the “unschooling” method.

1989 – The Ohio Revised and Administrative Codes provided specific steps and guidelines that parents must follow in order to ‘enroll’ students as homeschooled.

Post-Secondary Enrollment Options

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3365
Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-44

1989 - PSEO first established by the Ohio General Assembly for students in grades 11 and 12.

1997 - The program expanded to allow students in grades 9 and 10 to participate.

2013 – PSEO is opened to homeschool students.

Open Enrollment

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3313.97
Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-48

1989 – Open enrollment first established into law.

Magnet Schools | Lottery Schools | Alternative Schools

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3324.07
Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-35.13

1989 - Magnet schools first authorized by the state legislature.

Voucher Programs

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3310. and Chapter 3313.974-979
Ohio Administrative Code Sections 3301-11, 3301-101 and 3301-103

1995 - Ohio’s first voucher program –the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program—authorized by the Ohio General Assembly.

1997 – The Cleveland Scholarship & Tutoring Program became operational.

2002 - The Zelman v. Simmons Harris Supreme Court Case ruled the Cleveland Scholarship & Tutoring Program constitutional, because it has an important secular purpose and is neutral about religion.

2003 - Creation of the Ohio Autism Scholarship

2005 - Creation of the EdChoice Scholarship Program

2011 - Creation of the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program

2013 - The EdChoice Scholarship Program expanded to provide vouchers for students from families based on income-eligibility guidelines.

Charter Schools

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3314.
Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-102

1997 – Charter Schools, defined in the Ohio Revised Code as “community schools,” first authorized by the Ohio Legislature.

1999 – A revision provided broader opportunities by permitting the creation of new charter schools in the twenty-one largest urban districts, and by 2000, any district designated by the state as in academic emergency could create a new community school.

Online Learning (E-schools) 

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3314.21
Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-102

2000 - The first online schools (e-schools) began operation in Ohio.

STEM Education

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3326.

2007 - Ohio first authorized STEM schools.