Three basic options for free high school exist in the United States: state-sponsored public school, free online high school and home schooling. All three options have benefits and drawbacks, so parents and teens should research them thoroughly and make the best decision for their families.
Public high school is the most common free high school option. Students register with the school district, attend classes during the school year, take nationally accredited testing and graduate with a diploma from an accredited school with certified teachers. The benefits of this option, according to PublicSchools.org, include extra-curricular activities with local teens and government oversight. Some disadvantages include lack of choice and large class sizes.
Free online high school offers another option. Many states offer virtual high school opportunities through websites that have educator-created curricula, access to certified teachers and the ability to receive a diploma. The benefits include individualized attention and flexibility for students who are either gifted or have learning challenges, but these programs require parents and teens to be self-starting and motivated. Not all states offer these programs, however. Connections Academy and K12.com are two sites that offer programs in several states.
Home schooling, like virtual high school, offers individualized learning, but home schooling provides more flexibility than virtual high school. It also demands that parents and students design their own curricula and seek out extra curricular opportunities through community programs. Resources such as LetsHomeSchoolHighSchool.com provide free information to help home-schooling families succeed.