In March, we celebrated another successful year of SchoolChoice, as families all over the city received their school placement information for the 2019-20 school year.
Over 27,000 SchoolChoice applications were submitted. It’s heartening to see thousands of parents and guardians take the steps to find the best-fit school for their students — and an important one as we all work toward ensuring every child thrives in our city.
One powerful aspect of our Choice system is that families have the ability to find the best school for their children by looking first look at their neighborhood school but also considering many of the specialized programs and schools we offer around the city. We believe students and families thrive when they have high-quality choices, and one of our top goals is to have joyful schools that create excellence for all in every neighborhood.
We recently visited Lake Middle School, one of our great neighborhood schools to celebrate its strong Choice results. Due in large part to the amazing work of principal Amanda Stewart and executive principal Michelle Koyama, more than 260 students selected Lake Middle School on their Choice application, and over 130 incoming sixth-graders were admitted.
These dynamic school leaders have brought important changes to Lake. From increased investment in arts and Spanish language programming to beautifying their school and prioritizing family communication, there’s a renewed sense of pride at this historic DPS campus.
And Lake is just one example of how great schools come in all shapes and sizes. Different kids thrive in different environments and right on the Lake Campus, over 125 students selected STRIVE Prep – Lake as well. We are fortunate to have a rich family of schools including traditional, innovation and charter that offer a variety of programs, services and cultures.
This Choice season built on our success from previous years, with families matched to their most-preferred schools at very high rates. For example, 89% of incoming kindergartners and 93% of sixth- and ninth-graders were matched with their first- or second-choice schools.
These successes are especially gratifying given this year’s improvements to the enrollment process. We opened a new walk-in enrollment center in the southwest area to better support families. And we shifted the timing of the Choice window to close in mid-February, allowing us to release results almost a month earlier than in 2018.
Another highlight was the continuation of our enrollment pilot aimed at building more integrated schools that reflect the diversity of our communities. Because we know (and research shows) all students benefit from diversity in their classrooms, some of our higher-performing, lower-poverty schools were able to prioritize enrollment for students eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch.
To reach our vision Every Child Succeeds, we know all students need access to quality schools that meet their specific needs, regardless of their background or address. Thank you to our families for taking the first step in choosing a brighter future for their kids.