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In the United States, public schools are run by school districts and supported by state and federal funding. Public schools do not charge tuition and accept all students who live within the boundaries of their district. The vast majority of children in the United States are educated in public schools.

Charter schools are a type of public school that is subject to some of the rules and regulations that apply to traditional public schools, but they have more flexibility.

Magnet schools are another type of public school that have a specific focus on themes like Science, Technology and Engineering (STEM), Fine and Performing Arts, International Baccalaureate and more.

Visit the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to learn about Colorado’s districts and their public, charter and magnet schools. Visit Denver Public Schools (DPS) to learn about the school system, including charter and magnet schools.

Private schools operate independently and are funded by charging tuition and through donations. Private schools choose which students to admit. Far fewer students in the United States attend private schools. Visit Private School Review and the Association of Colorado Independent Schools for information on Colorado private schools.

In public and private schools, children generally begin in preschool (ECE or PreK) at three or four years old. Elementary school (primary) begins with kindergarten (K) at age five and continues through high school (secondary), grade 12, to age 18. The elementary school years include kindergarten through grade five. Middle schools include grades six through eight. High schools include grades nine through 12.

Parents have a wide variety of options in choosing a school. It is important to research schools thoroughly by talking to other involved parents and visiting schools online and in person. Consider talking to other Foreign Nationals. See the Foreign National Directory under Resources and Government Links. Not all public and private schools are the same. Be sure to do your research.

Tips for navigating DPS options:
  • For instructions on how to choose a school visit DPS School Choice.
  • For a list of Denver Public Schools visit DPS School List.
  • To find a preschool or kindergarten program (not all schools have early education), visit DPS ECE and Kindergarten.
  • To find your neighborhood elementary, middle and high school boundaries, visit DPS School Finder where your child is guaranteed acceptance.
  • To find out about attending a school outside your neighborhood boundaries (choice system), visit DPS Choice and Enrollment Services.
  • To search and filter schools to find the best fit for your student visit DPS School Match.
  • To learn about DPS’s before and after school childcare program (Kaleidoscope Corner) visit DPS Kaleidoscope.

Also visit Great Schools for parent and community reviews of public and private schools.