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Record High Participation In District’s Round 1 of SchoolChoice

Mar. 21, 2019

DPS marks eighth year of providing equitable, transparent enrollment through unified system

Denver –Thousands of Denver families took an active role in selecting the best-fit school for their student during another successful SchoolChoice enrollment season. Denver Public Schools (DPS) this week sent out over 27,000 emails and text messages notifying families of their students’ school assignments for 2019-20. Round 2 of SchoolChoice opens on April 3.

The goal of SchoolChoice is to level the playing field by giving all DPS students access to a quality education, regardless of their address or socio-economic background. And SchoolChoice is succeeding. This year, SchoolChoice placed 92% of kindergarteners and 95% of sixth-graders in their first-, second- or third-choice school. Ninth-graders were placed in one of their top three choices 94% of the time. For all three grade levels, match rates for first or second choices were also strong: 89% percent for kindergarten; and 93% for sixth and ninth.

In a continuing effort to provide the best service to Denver families, DPS shifted the timing of the Choice window to close in mid-February, allowing the district to release results nearly a month earlier than in 2018. And the district opened a new walk-in enrollment center in the southwest area to better support families. The DPS SchoolChoice process allows families to rank their top school choices on a single online application. The district then runs a computer algorithm designed to maximize the number of students getting their most-preferred option, subject to availability. The system is based on the 2012-Nobel Prize-winning work of Stanford and Harvard professor Dr. Alvin Roth.

DPS is one of the only large districts in the country in which all its schools, whether traditional, innovation or charter, participate in its choice program. Prior to 2011-12, families had to complete different applications for different schools on different timelines. SchoolChoice is primarily for families with students who will be transitioning into a new school next year, including those entering kindergarten, middle school and high school. The process is also open to families who are not necessarily in a transition year but would like the opportunity to choose a new school for their student.

Because virtually every school is an option in this single enrollment process, DPS provides families with the tools they need to adequately research schools and make informed decisions. These tools include the annual Great Schools Enrollment Guides, School Finder online school search tool, the Great Schools Regional Expo series, and individual school tours.

SchoolChoice is not limited to the Round 1 window that closed Feb. 20. Round 2 of SchoolChoice begins April 3 and will provide opportunities for families who did not participate in Round 1, or who participated in Round 1 but want to re-explore their options or who are new to DPS.

SchoolChoice Data

SchoolChoice participation rates by transition grades:
Kindergarten – 89%
Sixth-grade – 84%
Ninth-grade – 76%
TOTAL – 84%

SchoolChoice Match rates:

Grade 2019: 1st Choice 2018: 1st Choice Change 2019: 1st or 2nd 2018: 1st or 2nd Change 2019: 1st-3rd 2018: 1st-3rd Change
K 81% 80% 1.6% 89% 88% 0.9% 92% 92% 0.5%
6 83% 83% -0.2% 93% 94% -2.0% 95% 97% -2.1%
9 85% 80% 5.0% 93% 93% 0.0% 94% 95% -0.6%
K,6,9 83% 81% 1.8% 91% 92% -0.4% 94% 94% -0.7%