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17,000 Students Use New D.C. Lottery To Apply For Schools

Over 17,000 students used a new common lottery for public and charter school applications.
My School D.C.
Over 17,000 students used a new common lottery for public and charter school applications.

D.C. officials say that more than 17,000 students used a new common lottery to apply for public and charter school seats for the coming school year.

The new lottery, My School D.C., was unveiled in December as a means to help parents and students navigate an increasing number of school choices, from out-of-boundary public schools to the growing charter school sector.

While many schools operated independent lotteries and waiting lists in the past — forcing parents to keep tabs on different requirements and deadlines — My School D.C. sought to allow parents to use a single lottery to apply to up to 12 schools.

In that, Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith says she's pleased with the outcome of the lottery's inaugural year. "We felt good that such a wide range of people were able to access the system," she says.

The city's public school's — which include traditional and charter schools — educate some 82,000 students. Only one-quarter of public school students attend their in-boundary school, and 43 percent of students opt for charter schools.

According to Smith, 13,800 students applied for placement in pre-K through eighth grade, while 3,500 students used it for high school options.

She says that since it was the first year that D.C. was using a common lottery, education officials were unsure of what to expect. "We really didn't know... there's no benchmark data," she says. Her office estimated that 15,000 students would use the common lottery.

Some high-performing charter schools opted out of the lottery this year, but say they will take part next year.

Results will be made available to parents on March 31, after which they will have until May 1 to enroll in the top choice they were assigned by the lottery.

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