Arizona students can learn to speak Mandarin, study dance, become young engineers or delve into the medical sciences because of the state's competitive K-12 marketplace.
Arizona is one of the nation's leading states in letting families choose where and how their children are educated, according to the Center for Education Reform, a Washington, D.C., education think tank that ranks Arizona sixth in the country for school choice.
The state has crafted policies that allow children living in one district to enroll in another, provide scholarships for students with disabilities to attend private schools and allow charter schools to flourish.
The outcome is that many private schools, charter schools and traditional districts go beyond the basics, offering specialty programs that appeal to parents and students. However, the start-up costs, training and new materials can be challenging for cash-strapped schools. And students at specialty schools aren't a magic bullet for improved state test scores.