Schooling is mandatory for all children in the United States, but no single instructional approach fits all children. Parents value school choice—they want to select an educational program that meets the learning needs of their child. Public Montessori allows families in any income bracket to choose Montessori for their children.
More than 400 public schools nationwide offer Montessori programs. For these schools—as with private Montessori schools—membership in AMS is optional. We are pleased to include a growing number of public Montessori programs as part of the AMS “family.”
Public Montessori education is a popular option for preschool through high school students attending all types of publicly-funded schools—neighborhood, magnet, and charter.
Public Montessori programs range in size from single early childhood classrooms to school-wide elementary or high school programs. Some operate as a “school-within-a-school,” sharing a building with other classrooms that have a different instructional approach.
National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector
In 2012, AMS launched the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS) to assist with the growth and sustainability of Montessori programs in magnet, charter, and district schools across the country. The Center is now independent, but works in close collaboration with AMS. For more information, contact NCMPS director Keith Whitescarver.
Elements Essential to a Quality Montessori Program
While all Montessori classes should in essence be the same, some differences do exist among them. However, elements essential to a quality public Montessori program have been identified by these leading Montessori organizations:
American Montessori Society (AMS)
Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)
North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA)
Montessori Education Programs International (MEPI)
Southwestern Montessori Training Center (IND)
These organizations agree that quality Montessori public programs must include:
- Mixed-age classes
- Teachers with credentials from an accredited Montessori program
- Full complement of developmentally appropriate Montessori learning materials
- Montessori instructional approach throughout the program
You can read the complete recommendations in "Essential Elements of Successful Montessori Schools in the Public School Sector."
Because they are publicly funded, public Montessori schools are open to all children. They do not generally require incoming students to have prior Montessori experience; however, some restrict the admission of children without Montessori experience to lower elementary levels only.
Upper elementary students are typically transferring from another Montessori program; their transcripts and other records may be reviewed to ensure that the scope and sequence of their prior program’s curriculum is similar to that of the new school.
Some middle-level programs do accept students new to Montessori but may ask for teacher recommendations based on a student’s ability to work independently.
Students are often admitted to public Montessori programs by lottery because there tend to be more applicants than openings. In making admission decisions, schools try to maintain an age and gender balance of students in the classroom.
Once a student is enrolled, he or she is not required to reapply in subsequent years. Siblings of current students are usually admitted automatically.
State and National Standards
Montessori public schools must meet the same standards as other public schools: they receive a state “report card,” are accountable for their students achieving adequate yearly progress, and comply with other federal education regulations.
Public Montessori school students are required to take the same standardized tests as students in traditional public schools.
Public Montessori schools guarantee that Montessori classroom teachers are licensed by the state at the level they are teaching in addition to being certified by an accredited Montessori teacher education program.
Tuition may be charged for 3-to-4-year olds in public school pre-kindergarten classes that are not fully covered by state funding. If required, pre-kindergarten tuition is usually paid on a sliding scale depending upon the family’s eligibility for the National School Lunch Program (free, reduced, or full-pay).