Congrats! Your child is on the brink of high school or is currently enrolled in grades 9-12.
We’ve put together this guide to help you find the best high school in Tucson for your child.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF HIGH SCHOOLS
Public High Schools in Tucson
If you plan to send your child to a public school for high school, you can call, email, or visit your district office to find the school(s) closest to your home.
Note, however, that Arizona state law allows students to apply for admission to any public school, based on available classroom space (A.R.S. § 15-816.01). If there is a particular public school that you think would be a strong fit for your teen, you are welcome to seek admission regardless of proximity to your home.
As is the case nationwide, public high schools are tuition-free in Tucson.
Charter High Schools in Tucson
A charter school is a school that receives government funding, but operates independently of the established state school system. Historically, Tucson has been a “charter school friendly city” so there are many charter schools in the metro area and in the surrounding suburbs.
Since charter schools receive government funding, they must adhere to specific guidelines instituted by the Department of Education.
Many of the charter schools in Tucson have stellar academic reputations (beating out public schools in test scores and extracurriculars), while other charter schools have a poor reputation. It is important to take a school tour, to ask for recommendations, and to do your own research before making an enrollment choice for your child.
Because charter schools are public schools in a different form, students attend free and do not pay tuition.
Private High Schools in Tucson
Some parents choose to enroll their child in a private school for high school. There are a number of different private schools in Tucson with different focuses – Catholic, Christian, Classical, College Preparatory, University Model, etc.
Private schools are tuition-based and have unique admissions criteria (which may include academic assessments, student/parent interviews, and/or home visits). Private schools have the right to reject admission to students who they do not think are a strong fit for their school.
Homeschooling in High School
According to ARS 15-802, “Homeschool means a nonpublic school conducted primarily by the parent, guardian, or other person who has custody of the child or nonpublic instruction provided in the child’s home.”
That statute states that, “Every child between the ages of six and sixteen years shall be provided instruction in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies, and science.”
You will need to file an affidavit of intent with the county school superintendent stating that your child is being provided with instruction in a homeschool setting. As stated above, you are required to provide your child with instruction in reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies, and science.
No additional paperwork, testing, or documentation is required.
For a complete overview of the homeschool laws in Arizona, please see this helpful homeschool information page created by the Pima County School Superintendent.
Be sure to also refer to our homeschooling resource page.
Other Kinds of High Schools
If you have a particular type of high school in mind, rest assured that there a variety of options in Tucson – Christian high schools, high schools for teens with learning disabilities, high schools for gifted children, and more.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How many credits does my child need to graduate high school in Arizona?
The bullet list below summarizes the minimum credit requirements for high school graduation in Arizona (22 credits). Please note that school districts, charter schools, and private schools may, at their discretion, establish additional graduation credit requirements for their students.
- English or English as a Second Language: 4 credits
- Mathematics: 4 credits
- Science: 3 credits
- History & Social Science*: 3 credits
- Fine Arts or Career & Technical Education: 1 credit
- Locally Prescribed Credits: 7 credits
* must include one credit of American history (including Arizona history), one credit world history/geography, one-half credit of government, and one-half credit of economics
Is high school free in Tucson?
Attendance at public and charter schools in Tucson is free. Private schools are tuition-based.
How much does private school tuition cost in Tucson?
Tuition for high school at private schools in Tucson ranges from $6,400-$18,900/year with the average being around $10,000/year. Some schools offer scholarships and financial aid. Parents can also seek out tax credit donations from family and friends, thanks to the innovative Arizona Tax Credit program.
What is the ESA program and can it be used for high school?
ESA stands for Empowerment Scholarship Account. It is a program that is administered by the Arizona Department of Education.
In essence, parents can choose to opt their child out of the public school system and instead receive funds to enroll their child in a private school or to homeschool.
There are very specific eligibility guidelines for this program. Your child may qualify if he/she falls in one or more of the below categories:
- Preschool student with a disability
- K-12 student with a disability
- student with a parent who is active duty military
- student with a parent who was killed in the line of duty
- student with a parent who is legally blind, deaf, or hard of hearing
- student attends a D or F rated school
- student resides within a Native American reservation
- student is a sibling of a current or previous recipient
- student was a ward of the court
- student was a previous ESA recipient
There are application dates each quarter. If your child is approved for the ESA program, you may be able to use the funds for tuition at a private school (specific guidelines and restrictions apply).
What questions should I ask on a high school tour?
In order to find a program that is safe for your teen and that is a strong fit for your family, it is important to ask good questions at any tours or information meetings.
Here are ten questions you may want to ask prospective schools:
- Do you require an admissions assessment/exam? If so, what subjects will be covered and how are course placements determined?
- How many credits are required for graduation and in which subjects?
- What teacher credentials do you require?
- Have all teachers been background-checked? Does the screening process apply to all employees (janitors, lunchroom staff, security personnel, bus drivers, etc.)?
- How much “screen time” (iPads, computers, etc) is part of the day, if any?
- What is your policy regarding cell phone use on-campus?
- Tell us about the extracurricular and athletic opportunities at this school.
- Does this school have a college counselor? What college, career, and scholarship support and programs do you offer?
- What is the average class size?
- What makes this high school special?
Be sure to also ask for a copy of the School Profile, which is a one page sheet that includes information about the school’s curriculum, community, and scholar accomplishments.
What is the best high school in Tucson?
Great question! With dozens of high schools in Tucson, it’s hard to pinpoint just one. Each high school has a unique community, curriculum, and focus.
The best way to find a high school in Tucson is to ask friends and family members for recommendations. You can also check yelp and google reviews. Finally, don’t be shy about scheduling tours at several different schools so that you can make an informed decision.
***Watch this page for new and updated information about high schools in Tucson.