Reimagining Education

Find the best school

Finding the school that best fits your child’s needs is the most important part of ensuring they have a good educational future. In Missouri, your choice of school options depends largely on where you live.

Unless you live in St. Louis City or within the boundaries of KCPS your choices are limited to schools offered by your local district, virtual courses, or private schools.  Here is an overview of how to find the best school in the state’s two largest metro areas as well as key tips for finding the best school and questions to ask during the process:


• School choices in St. Louis


• School choices in Kansas City


• Tips for finding the best school


• Questions to ask about schools


School choices in St. Louis

In St. Louis City, parents have a wide choice of schools including public, magnet, public charter, private and virtual. County residents have the option of public charter schools if the school district in which they live participates in the VICC program. See this map for more information.


CEAM is happy to help you find the school that best suits your needs in the St. Louis area. Just contact Cici Tompkins at cici@ceamteam.org or 314-561-8646 to get advice about what school will work best for your child.

You can also visit STL City Schools by clicking on the image below to search for all types of schools online based on your address.

Additional resources in St. Louis

For Magnet Schools:

Contact the St. Louis Public Schools Recruitment and Counseling Center at 314-633-5200 or log on to www.slpsmagnetschools.org


For Charter Public Schools:

Contact the Missouri Charter Public School Association at 314-776-3551 or log on to www.mocharterschools.org.

For tuition based schools:
  • The Archdiocese of St. Louis oversees hundreds of Catholic schools in the St. Louis area. Contact them at 314-792-7300 or log on to www.archstl.org/education.
  • The Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation provides financial assistance to low-income families interested in faith-based private schooling. Contact them at 314-792-7621 or at www.archstl.org/ttef.
  • Independent Schools of St. Louis represents 44 of the area’s most highly acclaimed private schools. Financial assistance is available at many of the schools; once you find a school that you are interested in, contact the school’s Financial Aid Officer. Find a school that might be a good fit for your child on their website at www.independentschools.org or contact them directly at 314-567-9229.

School choices in Kansas City

In Kansas City, parents have a wide choice of schools including public, signature, charter public, private and virtual. Residents living outside of the KCPS school district do not have the option of public charter schools.

You can visit ShowMe KC Schools by clicking on the image below to search for all types of schools online based on your address.

Additional resources in Kansas City

For Signature Schools:

To learn more about signature schools contact the Kansas City Public Schools at 816-418-7000 or visit https://www.kcpublicschools.org/Page/4808.

For Charter Public Schools:

Contact the Missouri Charter Public School Association at 314-776-3551 or log on to www.mocharterschools.org.

Questions to consider when looking for the best school for your child
  • How is information communicated to parents?
  • Are your standardized test scores going up or down?
  • How do you measure growth between tests?
  • How do students at this school perform compared to the state average?
  • What programs do you have for gifted and/or special needs students?
  • What steps does your school take towards individualized learning?
  • How much homework is assigned? What supports are provided?
  • What technology resources are available?
  • Are there books for all of the children? Can they take them home?
  • What before and after-school programs does your school have?
  • What kinds of demographics are at the school?
  • What is your average student to teacher ratio?
  • How are teachers evaluated and rewarded?
  • What is your disciplinary policy?


Types of schools

Traditional district schools are assigned to your child based on your address. They are tuition-free and follow a state-mandated curriculum. Parents can request to send their child to a different zone if seats are available but must provide their own transportation.


St. Louis Public Schools also offer magnet and Kansas City Public Schools offer signature schools which serve the entire school district. These schools include elementary, middle and high school options that offer specialized courses and curricula.

  • Applications come with certain eligibility requirements including minimum GPA and no prior behavior records.
  • They do not have to accept all students.
  • There are typically more applicants than seats available, some schools have a long waitlist.
  • Provide transportation.
Public Charter

Charter public schools are publicly funded, nonprofit schools with an independent governing board.  They are held accountable by their sponsor (usually a university) for producing positive academic outcomes. Charter public schools are tuition-free schools that are required to enroll all students who live within their boundaries.

  • All applicants must live in the city of St. Louis (or be a county student enrolled in the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC) program) or within the boundaries of Kansas City Public Schools.
  • No tests or eligibility requirements to enroll in a charter school in St. Louis.
  • They must accept students with special needs and English language learners.
  • There are limited seats in charter schools and often have a waitlist.
  • Some charter schools provide transportation.

There are many private school or tuition based options throughout Missouri including a variety of religious options. Private schools offer parents curriculum that varies from State Standards.

  • Many schools offer tuition assistance.
  • Catholic Schools offer a common application for a scholarship.
  • Private schools do not provide transportation.
Virtual education

Thanks to a 2018 law Missouri families in every school district in the state have growing access to virtual education through both the MOCAP program and the Missouri Online Summer Institute.

MOCAP provides students access to single virtual courses or full-time virtual programs through their home school district or charter school at no cost to the family.

As MOCAP works to implement the new law, courses are currently only available on the high school level, but the state is working to expand to full K-12 offerings in 2019.

The Missouri Online Summer Institute is completely free, but only available during the summer and only if students are not taking other summer courses in their home district.

Other choice options

Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC)

In St. Louis City and, the interdistrict transfers are currently available through the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC).

  • Through VICC, African-American students living in the city of St. Louis and non-African American students living in certain county districts are able to transfer to out of their district into county or magnet options (based on availability).
  • At its November 18, 2016 meeting, the VICC governing board voted to phase out the program following the 2018-2019 school year.  New students may continue to enroll through 2024 and once enrolled, students may continue in the program through high school graduation if they wish.  Students who are currently enrolled may also continue attending their school through graduation. Siblings can enter into the program.


Student Transfers Out of Unaccredited Districts
Missouri law allows students who attend school in a district that is classified as “unaccredited” to transfer to a neighboring school district. This law has affected families in the Normandy Schools Collaborative and the Riverview Gardens School District since June of 2013, but as both districts have regained provisional accreditation this option is no longer available. If you have questions about a current transfer student please contact Cici Tompkins at cici@ceamteam.org or 314-561-8646.

Tips for finding the right school
Always visit the schools

However good a school may look online or sound over the phone, you will not get a true feel for its personality and feel unless you visit the school yourself. In some areas of the state, there are a variety of options for students to find a great school and making the right choice depends on knowing firsthand how you feel about the school culture, climate and the building itself.

Know the application windows

Some schools have application deadlines 10 months in advance. Charter schools typically start accepting applications in the winter and have their first round of lotteries in February and March. Make sure you know how long it will take to gather information needed to complete the application, know when tour dates and open houses for schools you are interested in are scheduled. Magnet and Signature schools often require entrance exams and interviews.

You may not get your top choice

Make sure you apply to several schools as many of the top schools have long waiting lists or lottery systems and there is no guarantee that your child will win a seat. It may take several years of applying to get a spot at the school of your choice, but persistence and getting ahead of deadlines frequently pays off.