by Elissa Fuchs
Figuring out the DC school lottery isn't easy, and the deadline to apply is fast approaching. Parents and guardians have under two weeks to submit their lottery applications to My School DC for public school grades Pre-K 3 through 8th grade. The lottery application deadline for those grades is March 1st.
The deadline for high school grades 9 through 12 was February 1st and has now passed. (Though, according to Emerald Becker, Director of Enrollment at DCPS who spoke at the February 8th ANC 4C meeting, you can still apply; you should check with My School DC for the details.)
For anyone unfamiliar with the lottery process, here’s how it works:
Parents create a family account on My School DC and enter their top 12 choices for DC’s public and charter schools. Parents or guardians applying for a Pre-K 3 or Pre-K 4 slot MUST enter the lottery, even for their in-bound school. Note that if you want a dual language program (like the the English/Spanish program at Powell, McFarland or Roosevelt) you have to apply for that dual language program.
Those who have children in kindergarten and higher are guaranteed a spot at their in-boundary school, but need to apply via the lottery for out-of-boundary public schools or charter schools.
The good news about the lottery this year, says Aryan Bocquet, Parent Engagement Manager for My School DC, is that there are no big changes to application process itself. So, if you’ve done it before, it should be the same experience.
People who have specific questions can visit My School DC field offices, or book a one-on-one appointment with a My School DC employee, Aryan points out. (See a PDF of the field office times.)
The School Finder tool on the My School DC website includes filters allowing people to narrow down their search by grade, distance, and program type, while past years’ results by school and grade are available on the site's data page.
Aryan’s overall advice is to do your research before pressing the submit button.
“We strongly recommend that all parents participating in the lottery to do as much research as feasible on the schools they apply to in advance of the application deadline … [they should] think of their needs and their child’s needs and be confident about their decisions," she said.
“Parents should not second guess themselves. They should rank their school choices in their true order of preference on their application. The algorithm used for the lottery is strategy-proof.”