District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) is the local, traditional public school system of Washington, DC. All DCPS schools are free to DC residents.
DC public charter schools are public schools, just a different kind. Public charter schools are free and open to all DC residents. They are independent from DCPS (the school district). This year, 44 percent of DC public school students attend public charter schools.
Submit an application if your child wants to be a new student at a:
- Public charter school for any grade (PK3–12)
- PK3 or PK4 program at any DCPS school
- DCPS school outside your boundary or feeder pattern for any grade (PK3–12)
- DCPS specialized high school (grades 9–12)
You do NOT need to submit an application if your child will:
- Attend a right-to-attend DCPS school for grades K–12.
- Remain in his or her current school. (Contact your current school to re-enroll.)
Students who want to apply to DCPS or participating public charter schools must use the My School DC application. Participating schools will accept only the My School DC application.
Click here to find your in-boundary DCPS school.
Visit the My School DC school profiles. Each school profile provides a snapshot of key facts and data as well as links to the school’s website and other resources for information about that school.
PK3 programs serve students who are three years old. PK4 programs serve students who are four years old. In the past, schools referred to PK3 as preschool and PK4 as prekindergarten. Please refer to the age cutoff dates for each school to see if your child is eligible for PK3 or PK4.
The My School DC Hotline phone number is 202-888-6336.
Non-English speakers should call the My School DC Hotline, 202-888-6336. A call center representative will work with an interpretation service to assist the caller. This service is available in multiple languages, including Spanish, Amharic, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and French.
The age cutoff is the age a student needs to be to attend a particular grade. For a minimum age cutoff, a child must reach a stated age for a particular grade. For a maximum age cutoff, a child can be no older than a stated age for a particular grade.
Click here to see age cutoffs for individual schools. If your child does not make the age cutoff for a particular school, you will not be able to select that school on your application.
No. DCPS specialized high schools only take new students in grades 9 and 10. All other DCPS schools accept applicants in all grades. Public charter schools vary; some accept applicants from new students in all grades (although spaces may be limited in some grades), while others only accept applicants in certain grades. Click here for a list of schools that are not accepting new students in all grades that they serve.
Every K–12 student who lives in Washington, DC, has at least one right-to-attend school — a school where he or she can enroll at any time. Students do not need to apply to their right-to-attend school(s) for grades K–12. Students can complete a My School DC application to request space at other DPCS schools. All PK3 and new PK4 students must complete a My School DC application and enter the lottery, even if they want to attend their in-boundary DCPS school. Learn more about the application process.
A student’s right-to-attend school is a DCPS school where that student can enroll at any time. Students do not apply to their right-to-attend schools. If a family has more than one right-to-attend school, the family can choose which one the student will attend. However, a student can be enrolled in only one school at a time.
There are two types of right-to-attend schools for K–12 students: in-boundary schools and feeder-pattern schools.
- In-boundary schools (also called neighborhood schools) are based on where a student lives. The school district has boundary lines, and each student is assigned to an in-boundary school based on those lines. In some cases, a school near a student’s home may not be his or her in-boundary school. In those cases, families may qualify for a proximity preference.
- Feeder-pattern schools (also called destination schools) are based on the school a student currently attends. This assignment only happens during the years a student moves from elementary to middle school, or from middle school to high school. Click here to see DCPS feeder patterns.
A DCPS school that is not your child’s right-to-attend school is called an out-of-boundary school. Students can apply to attend DCPS out-of-boundary schools using the My School DC common application. Some students have a lottery preference for certain DCPS out-of-boundary schools.
DCPS also has six specialized high schools that admit students based on specific criteria. Anyone can apply to these schools, but only students who meet a specialized high school’s requirements will be eligible to attend that school.
No, they do not. All PK3 and new PK4 students must apply to attend either DCPS or public charter schools. However, PK3 and PK4 students have a lottery preference for their in-boundary DCPS schools.
DCPS has six specialized high schools that admit students based on specific criteria. Anyone can apply to these schools, but only students who meet a specialized high school’s requirements will be eligible to attend that school.
The specialized high schools, all grades 9–12, are:
- Benjamin Banneker High School
- Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC) — CHEC serves grades 6–12. Only grades 9–12 are part of the specialized high school.
- Duke Ellington School of the Arts
- McKinley Technology High School
- Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School
- School Without Walls High School
Students applying to DCPS specialized high schools must complete an additional section of the My School DC application. The additional section is different for each school because each school has its own requirements. All specialized high schools require recent grades and standardized test scores. Some also ask students to write essays and provide email addresses for teachers who will submit recommendations.
DCPS specialized high schools also may require entrance exams, interviews, or auditions. After students submit their applications, the specialized high schools will contact applicants directly to arrange these elements of the application process.
Students can apply to as few as one or as many as all six specialized high schools. Click here for more information about specialized high schools.
Can a student apply to specialized high schools, traditional DCPS high schools, and public charter schools?
Yes. Students can apply to any combination of specialized high schools, DCPS out-of-boundary schools, and public charter schools. Each student can apply to as few as one or as many as 12 total schools.
Yes. The six DCPS specialized high schools, which admit students based on specific criteria, participate in the same My School DC lottery as all other schools, and a student’s ranking can include any combination of DCPS schools, public charter schools, and DCPS specialized high schools. Click here for details about how the lottery works.
The common application is a single online application families must use to apply for participating public charter schools (PK3–12), DCPS out-of-boundary schools (K–12), all DCPS PK3 and PK4 programs, and DCPS specialized high schools (9–12).
On each student’s application, a family lists school choices in preferred order — their 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on. Each student can apply to as few as one or as many as 12 total schools.
The My School DC common lottery is a single, random lottery that determines placement for new students at all participating schools.
Student-school matches are based on the number of spaces at each school; sibling, proximity, and other preferences; and each student’s choices. (Through the My School DC common lottery, the six DCPS specialized high schools admit students based on specific criteria.)
When there are more students than spaces at a school, students who have a preference (such as a sibling preference) will be the first to be offered spaces. Then, random selection decides which other students will be offered spaces.
Students will be matched with no more than one school. My School DC will try to match each student with their 1st choice, then their 2nd choice, and so on through the student’s list.
The My School DC lottery is designed to match students with the schools they want most, and maximize the number of students who are matched. The matching algorithm is the computer program that runs the lottery. It is a deferred acceptance model that was developed specifically for My School DC by the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice (IIPSC) and is based on the Nobel Prize-winning work of economist Al Roth of Stanford University. IIPSC also developed the lottery algorithms for New Orleans and Denver and is currently working with Philadelphia and Newark.
The two most important things to know about the algorithm are:
- Because of the way the algorithm works, students who rank schools on their application according to their true choices have the best chance of being matched to the schools they most want to attend.
- Students who apply early get no advantage in the matching process.
For all schools except DCPS specialized high schools, the algorithm follows this process.
The matching algorithm assigns each student a random lottery number and attempts to match each student with his or her first choice first, then his or her second choice, and so on. A student’s ranking of schools (the order a student puts schools on his or her application) is critical because the matching algorithm attempts to match each student with his or her first choice first, then his or her second choice, and so on. However, when the matching algorithm is comparing two students who have applied to the same school, the decision is based on two criteria: (1) each student’s preferences at that school (e.g., sibling preference); and (2) if there is no difference in preferences, each student’s randomly assigned lottery number. The students’ rankings of the schools are not a factor at that point in the process. This is why the system is strategy-proof — and why students are best served by ranking schools according to their true choices (the school they most want to attend first, then their second choice, and so on).
Each student is waitlisted at every school he or she ranked higher than the school to which they were matched. (It is possible for a student to be waitlisted at every school on his or her list if they are not matched.) Siblings who apply to the same schools also are waitlisted at any school where one of their siblings is matched.
The six DCPS specialized high schools admit students based on specific criteria. Each of the specialized high schools identifies which applicants meet their specific minimum requirements, and then each school determines the order of priority among that group. The matching algorithm uses the process described above: It attempts to match each student with his or her first choice first, then his or her second choice, and so on. (The student’s ranking may include any combination of DCPS schools, public charter schools, and DCPS specialized high schools.) However, when the matching algorithm is comparing two students who have applied to the same specialized high school, the decision is made based on the school’s order of priority for the applicants.
In past years, DCPS had a lottery for out-of-boundary spaces and for all PK3 and PK4 spaces, plus a separate application process for the specialized high schools. Each public charter school also had its own lottery. Many families found the process confusing and difficult to manage.
My School DC gives families a single application and a single lottery that matches all students and all participating schools. The common application and common lottery are designed to accomplish the following goals:
- Maximize the number of students who are matched with a school they choose. No student will be offered more than one space, so more students will be matched with schools.
- Match students with the schools they want most. My School DC will try to match each student with their 1st choice, then their 2nd choice, and so on through the student’s list.
- Simplify the process for families.
No. There is no advantage to applying early for either being matched with a school or placement on waitlists. Just submit your child's application by the deadline for his or her grade. The deadlines are February 3, 2014, for grades 9–12 and March 3, 2014, for grades PK3–8.
Yes. You will only be matched to schools you list, and the lottery system works to match students with their 1st choice, then their 2nd choice, and so on through the student’s list. For this reason, it is important that you rank your list of schools in the order you prefer.
Does the common lottery make it more likely or less likely that my child will be offered a space at a school?
More likely. With the common lottery, more students will be matched with the schools they select. With the common lottery, no student is offered multiple spaces, so more students get matched to schools.
No. My School DC will not give this information to schools.
Students will be matched with no more than one school. Students will be placed on the waitlist of any of the choices they ranked above the school where they were matched. For example, if a student applies to five schools and is matched with his or her choice #3, the student would be waitlisted at choices #1 and #2. He or she would not be waitlisted at choices #4 and #5. If a student is not matched at any school, he or she will be waitlisted at every school he or she selected.
Students may have a preference at one or more schools. Students with a preference at a particular school are offered space at that school before students who don’t have a preference. There are four types of preferences:
- Sibling preference (DCPS and public charter schools). Your child will have a sibling preference at a school where a sibling is currently enrolled. Some schools also offer a preference in the lottery and/or on the waiting list to siblings of accepted students. For example, if you have two children applying to the same school this year and one is accepted, the school may offer a preference to the accepted child’s brother or sister. These preferences vary by school, so if you have questions, it’s best to contact the school. If your child is admitted with a sibling preference, be prepared to prove that your children are siblings when you enroll them. (DCPS specialized high schools do not offer a sibling preference.)
- Proximity preference (DCPS only). Your child will receive a preference if he or she lives within a reasonable walking distance of a school. (DCPS high schools do not offer a proximity preference.)
- In-boundary preference (DCPS PK3 and PK4 only). PK3 and PK4 students receive a preference at their in-boundary DCPS schools.
- Adams-boundary preference (Oyster-Adams Bilingual School only). In 2007, John Quincy Adams Elementary School merged with Oyster Bilingual School. Students living in the boundary of the former Adams Elementary School get a preference when applying to Oyster-Adams.
- Transfer preference. Transfer preference applies to only a handful of public charter schools. Some public charter schools offer a transfer preference to students who currently attend one of their campuses and want to transfer to another one. Schools will verify that a student is eligible for a transfer preference before the lottery.
Each public charter school can set its own order for preferences. For all DCPS schools except dual-language schools, the order is:
- In-boundary with a sibling already enrolled at the school (PK3 and PK4 only)
- In-boundary with a sibling who is applying at the same time and is matched to the school (PK3 and PK4 only)
- In-boundary (PK3 and PK4 only)
- Out-of-boundary with a sibling already enrolled at the school
- Out-of-boundary with a sibling who is applying at the same time and is matched to the school
- Out-of-boundary with proximity (PK3–8 only)
- No preference
For DCPS dual-language schools only, the order changes for PK3 and PK4 applicants. For these applicants, all sibling preferences (including out-of-boundary with sibling enrolled and sibling matched) come before the in-boundary preference.
For high school applicants, Round 2 begins on February 5. Eligible applications submitted between February 5 and May 15 for high school will be considered for Round 2. For PK3 to grade 8 applicants, Round 2 begins on March 4. Eligible applications submitted between March 4 and May 15 for PK3 to grade 8 will be considered for Round 2.
The application deadline for Round 2 is May 15 for all grades. Results for Round 2 will be released by May 31 for all grades.
Round 2 will be open only to students who (1) did not participate in Round 1; or (2) were not matched with any schools in Round 1. If you have already submitted a Round 1 application, do not submit a Round 2 application until after you have received Round 1 results. If you are matched in Round 1, you are not eligible to submit an additional application in Round 2.
Students who are not matched in Round 1 will be eligible to submit a new application in Round 2. Families should submit a new application only if they want to apply to additional schools. (They already will be waitlisted at all schools on their Round 1 applications.)
The Round 2 lottery will work in the same way as Round 1. Students will be matched with no more than one school. They will be waitlisted at any of the choices they ranked above the school where they were matched. It is possible to be placed on the waitlist at every school you select.
The best chance of getting into the schools you choose is to participate in the first round of the lottery. Students who apply to schools that were filled in Round 1 will be added to the schools’ waitlists in Round 2. Round 2 applicants will be added to waitlists BELOW applicants from Round 1.
Families will use the My School DC common application, available on this site beginning December 16, to apply to any DCPS or participating public charter school. For each child, you can apply to as few as one school, as many as 12 schools, or any number in between. (You cannot apply to more than 12 schools.)
Before starting your first application, you will create a family account. Use this account to create, save, edit, and submit applications for every child in your family applying to a new school. You also will use this account to see your lottery results.
After creating your family account, create a separate application for each child in your family who is applying to attend a new school. For each application, you will be asked to:
- Set up a family account and create a separate application for each child in your family who is applying to attend a new school.
- Select the schools your student is applying to. List the schools in the order of your preference — your 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on.
- If needed, complete the DCPS specialized high school section of the My School DC application. (This step is only for students applying to a DCPS specialized high school.)
- Confirm your choices and submit your application.
You may submit only one application (listing up to 12 schools) per child for the lottery, and you must select one grade on the application. Submitting more than one application per child may result in being ineligible for the lottery.
The application is available here.
Yes. You can edit your application any time before the deadline. This includes adding schools, deleting schools, or changing your school ranking. The deadlines are:
- February 3, 2014, 11:59 p.m.: Deadline for high school (grades 9–12) applications
- March 3, 2014, 11:59 p.m.: Deadline for early childhood, elementary, and middle school (PK3–grade 8) applications
Yes, you must submit a separate application for each child who is applying to attend a new school. But, you should create only one family account because students who apply under the same family account are identified as siblings in the lottery. Families use a single family account to create, save, edit, and submit an application for each child in their family who is applying to a new school. Families also use this account to view their lottery results.
Families with multiple children should learn about sibling preferences, which are offered by DCPS and public charter schools.
All schools offer a sibling preference to siblings of currently enrolled students. If a child wants to attend a school where his or her sibling is already enrolled, the child must apply. The application includes a place to note that a sibling is currently enrolled at the school. Families must provide the name and grade of the sibling currently enrolled at the school to receive a sibling preference.
Some schools also offer a preference in the lottery and/or on the waiting list to siblings of accepted students. Specifics vary by school, so if you have questions, it’s best to contact the school.
On the application, you have the option of applying without a DC address. If you use this option, you will not receive in-boundary or proximity preferences.
If you are matched with a school through the lottery, you must accept your space by May 1. Accepting your space requires submitting required enrollment forms and proving DC residency.
Families who move to the District after Rounds 1 and 2 of the lottery can apply to schools individually using the My School DC application. Families who apply after Round 2 of the lottery will not rank schools or participate in a lottery, but they will be eligible to attend schools that have space in their child’s grade.
No. The application is only available online.
Families who do not have access to a computer have several options for completing their applications.
- You can complete applications at any DC public library, at any DCPS school, or any participating public charter school.
- My School DC staff will be at school-related events throughout the city, and they will have computers. You can attend one of these events and use a My School DC computer to complete your application(s).
- You can call the My School DC Hotline, 202-888-6336, and complete your application over the phone.
No, students who are currently homeless do not have to prove DC residency. The residency requirements include an exemption for homeless students. If you have questions about your particular situation, please please email email@example.com or contact your school's liaison for students who are homeless.
You can only submit one application for your child in the lottery. You should apply for the grade you think your child will be eligible for in the 2014–15 school year. Schools require report cards and transcripts from your previous school as part of the enrollment process and will verify that your child was promoted into the next grade. If you have questions about a school’s academic or enrollment requirements, please contact the school directly.
I have a child applying to high school. Once my child has been offered a match through the lottery, can the school turn him or her away for past academic performance?
High schools have different policies on credit requirements so it’s best to contact the school directly with questions. For example, some schools do not accept a D as a passing grade. If your child is admitted to a school in the lottery and upon reviewing your records the school determines that he or she is not eligible based on credit requirements, the student may not have a space at that school. If you have concerns, review the requirements of the schools you are applying to or talk to the schools’ counselors or admissions officers.
There are several ways to learn your lottery results:
- You can log in to your family account to see your lottery results on March 31, 2014.
- If you used an email address to create your My School DC family account, you also will receive your lottery results by email.
- In early April, My School DC will send all families a letter with their lottery results.
- Each school will contact students who were matched with the school in the lottery. The schools will provide details about how to enroll and what happens next.
My School DC and the schools will use the email, phone, and address you provided to contact you about results. If your contact information changes, please let My School DC know as soon as possible. If you have questions, please call the My School DC Hotline, 202-888-6336.
Students will be waitlisted only at schools they ranked higher than the school where they were matched. If a space becomes available at one of the schools for which your child is waitlisted, and you are next on the waitlist, you will be contacted by that school.
It is common for applicants to move up the waitlist throughout the spring and summer. If you have already enrolled at a school, and you are offered a space at a different school, you may choose to withdraw from the first school and enroll at the second. Please contact the school from which you are withdrawing so that they can offer your space to another student.
If you were matched with a school through the lottery, you must accept your space by May 1, 2014. Accepting your space requires submitting required enrollment forms and proving DC residency. Note: Schools have different enrollment requirements.
If your child currently attends a different public charter school or an out-of-boundary DCPS school, you will be asked to acknowledge that you are giving up your right to re-enroll in that school. (However, your child will always be able to enroll in his or her in-boundary school.)
- February 3, 2014: Deadline for high school (grades 9–12) applications.
- March 3, 2014: Deadline for early childhood, elementary, and middle school (PK3–grade 8) applications.
- March 31, 2014: Lottery results are available online. Families that used an email address to create their My School DC family account also will receive lottery results by email.
- May 1, 2014: Deadline to accept a space if your child was matched with a school through the lottery. To accept your space, you must submit required enrollment forms and prove DC residency. (Schools have different enrollment requirements.)
- May 15, 2014: Deadline for Round 2 of the lottery for all grades. (Round 2 of the lottery is open only to students who missed the February 3/March 3 deadlines and students who were not matched with a school in the first round of the lottery.)
Note: Most specialized high schools have additional steps in their application processes, such as interviews, auditions, or exams. Please see the schools’ profiles for more information about these dates.
There will be a Round 2 for the lottery. However, it will be open only to students who (1) missed the February 3/March 3 deadlines and did not participate in Round 1; or (2) were not matched with any school in Round 1. The application deadline for Round 2 is May 15 for all grades.
No, they do not. Public schools do not discriminate based on special education needs of students. Students who are eligible for special education services can apply to any DCPS or public charter school. The My School DC application does not ask if an applicant has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or any other questions about special education.
See My School DC resources for information about special education.
In addition, families that have questions about special education can contact:
Special Projects Manager (Community and Parent Relations)
Division of Specialized Education
Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)
I am a teacher, guidance counselor, or social worker helping a parent or guardian with an application. Should I create my own account?
No, you should not create your own account. All information in the account should be family information only. If you are helping multiple families, you have to create a separate family account for each family and then a separate application for each child in that family who is applying to attend a new school. However, you can list yourself as an additional contact on as many applications as you would like.
Are schools in Maryland and Virginia participating in the My School DC common application and common lottery?
No. Only public schools in Washington, DC, are part of My School DC.
Private schools, parochial schools, some K–12 public charter schools, and all adult education public charter schools are not participating in My School DC. Contact the individual schools directly if you'd like more information.
PK3–12 public charter schools that are not participating
- Community Academy PCS – CAPCS Online
- Creative Minds International PCS
- District of Columbia International School (DCI) PCS
- Harmony PCS
- Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science PCS
- Ideal Academy PCS
- Latin American Montessori Bilingual (LAMB) PCS
- Options PCS
- Roots PCS
- SEED PCS of Washington, DC
- Shining Stars Montessori Academy PCS
- St. Coletta Special Education PCS
- Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom PCS
- Tree of Life Community PCS
- Booker T. Washington PCS
- Washington Yu Ying PCS
Adult education public charter schools that are not participating
- Academy of Hope PCS
- Briya PCS
- Carlos Rosario International PCS
- Community College Prep Academy PCS
- Maya Angelou Young Adult Learning Center
- Next Step/El Proximo Paso PCS
- YouthBuild LAYC PCS