Brief summary of D.C. student-assignment proposals

D.C. officials have put forth a proposal to redraw elementary-school boundaries, but they are also floating three broader policy proposals, pieces of which have the potential to radically change the way in which students are assigned to schools.

Below is a brief summary of those proposals. Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith said they are not set in stone and are certain to change in the coming months as community members offer feedback.

For more details, including information about how each scenario deals with out-of-boundary lottery admissions and specialized programs such as dual-language instruction, you can read this chart from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education.

Also available are the deputy mayor’s comprehensive description of each option: Policy Example A, Policy Example B and Policy Example C.


Areas that could be affected by proposed changes to D.C.'s elementary school zone boundary

Policy Example A Policy Example B Policy Example C
Soundbite This scenario is the most different from the way things work now. When families move into a home, they would not know for sure which schools their children would attend. This scenario is most similar to current policy: Students have the right to attend one elementary, middle and high school depending on their home address. This is a compromise between A and B. Children would have a right to attend their neighborhood elementary, but would use a lottery for middle and high school.
Preschool Admissions based on lottery with certain preferences. Four-year-olds have a right to attend their neighborhood school. Low-income three-year-olds have a right to attend neighborhood school. Both three- and four-year-olds have a right to attend their neighborhood school, if it offers early childhood programs.
Elementary Children do not have the right to attend any particular school. Instead, they have a right to attend one of a “choice set” of schools near their homes, with admission by lottery. Children have the right to attend their in-boundary elementary school. Children have the right to attend their in-boundary elementary school.
Middle Children have the right to attend one of the two closest middle-grade schools to their home address, with admission based on preference but not guaranteed. Children have the right to attend their in-boundary middle school. Children do not have the right to attend any particular middle school. Instead, they have the right to attend one of a “choice set” of schools near their homes, with admission by lottery.
High Selective high schools remain. Other admissions by citywide lottery, with a preference for students who have siblings attending or live close to the school. Selective high schools remain. Children have the right to attend their in-boundary high school. Selective high schools remain. Other admissions by lottery.
Charter schools Charters continue to offer citywide lottery-based enrollment, but elementary charters would have the option to be included alongside traditional schools in “choice sets.” Charters continue to offer citywide lottery-based enrollment, but DCPS could give certain charter schools feeder rights into DCPS middle and high schools. Charters continue to offer citywide lottery-based enrollment.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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