Equity is at the heart of SchoolChoice. DPS believes all families should have equitable access to the schools they feel are the best fit for their students, regardless of their background or address.
Prior to SchoolChoice, DPS families who wanted to apply to schools other than their neighborhood school had to complete different applications on different timelines for different schools. This process was stressful, confusing and inherently inequitable. So, in 2012, DPS implemented a unified one-application, one-deadline system to simplify enrollment for families and ensure equitable access quality schools. DPS is one of the only districts in the country in which virtually all schools participate.
When choosing a school, we encourage all students to first look at their neighborhood school. But, any student who wants to attend a school other than their neighborhood school can take part in SchoolChoice.
About Round 1
SchoolChoice is for any student who wants or needs to attend a new school for the following school year, particularly “transitioning” students, typically incoming kinder, sixth- and ninth-grade students. All incoming preschool students, as well as incoming students who reside in an enrollment zone, must complete an application. Please note:
- Early Childhood Education: Incoming preschool students, and incoming students who reside in an enrollment zone, must participate in SchoolChoice; due to space limitations, enrollment in a preschool program is not guaranteed.
- Kinder through 11th grade: Generally speaking, if your student is currently in kindergarten through 11th grade and will be staying at his or her current school for 2020-21, you do not have to fill out a SchoolChoice application. (In rare cases, a student who wishes to stay at his or her current school will be asked to submit a SchoolChoice application. Families will be notified by DPS before Round 1 if this is the case.)
The Round 1 SchoolChoice window for 2020-21 is now closed. The window is mid-January to mid-February for the following school year. To participate in SchoolChoice, families submit one SchoolChoice application per student, on which they rank their top schools in order of preference, up to a limit of 12. DPS then uses a computer algorithm that matches students to schools based on those preferences, as well as school admission priorities and available space.
Here’s how it works:
- Find: First, to prepare for SchoolChoice, learn more about schools in which you might be interested, starting with your neighborhood school. Check out the School Finder, read the Great Schools Enrollment Guides, attend a school open house or tour individual schools.
- Apply: Create your account. (We recommend using your Parent Portal account username and password to log in, but you may also use your email address). Then, fill out and submit the SchoolChoice application – including ranking your most-preferred schools (up to 12) – any time during the month-long Choice window.
- Register: Once placement notifications are sent in late March, contact your school for registration information.
New this year: If you are submitting an ECE-4 application, you must upload the following documents in order to submit your application:
- Birth certificate
- Proof of address
- Proof of income – 30 consecutive days
SchoolChoice online applications cannot be submitted without these documents.
The Matching Process
Following Round 1, when all applications have been submitted, the Choice computer algorithm will randomly assign all participating students a lottery number between 1 and 1 million. Students are also assigned a priority level for each of the schools they selected based on pre-determined priority categories published by each school.
The algorithm will then rank and stack students within each priority category based on their randomly assigned lottery number. This produces an ordered list of students for every grade at every school. The system then allocates seats to students based on the order in which they fall on this list; the system then assigns waitlist numbers to all students who do not obtain a seat in order of how they were ranked and stacked. Read a detailed description of how the algorithm works.
The system is highly effective in placing students in their preferred schools. Last year, 81% of incoming kindergartners were placed in their first choice; 83% of sixth-graders received their first choice; and 85% of ninth-graders were enrolled in their first choice. Read a full recap of last year’s SchoolChoice results, including participation and match percentages.
All kindergarten through 12th-grade students are guaranteed a seat at their neighborhood, or boundary, school. Students living within an enrollment zone have a seat at one of the schools within the zone, not just at one particular school. If you have “choiced” out of your boundary school or enrollment zone, your current school of enrollment is your new right-to-attend school. To find your neighborhood school or to learn if you live in an enrollment zone, enter your address at School Finder.
Read an in-depth FAQ on SchoolChoice.