Below are explanations of terms used by My School DC. If you need more information, please visit the FAQ or call the My School DC Hotline, 202-888-6336.
District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) is the local, traditional public school system of Washington, DC. All DCPS schools are free to DC residents.
See feeder-pattern school.
Parents and guardians 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 see their lottery results.
A feeder-pattern school (also called a destination school) is a DCPS right-to-attend school that is based on a student’s current school. 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.
In-boundary preference applies only to DCPS PK3 and PK4 spaces. PK3 and PK4 students receive a preference at their in-boundary DCPS schools.
An in-boundary school (also called a neighborhood school) is a DCPS school that a student has a right to attend based on where the student lives. The school district has boundary lines, and each student is assigned to an in-boundary school based on those lines.
DCPS does not have magnet schools. DCPS does have six citywide high schools, called specialized high schools. These schools, which offer programs not available at other DCPS high schools, have eligibility requirements.
The My School DC 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).
The My School DC common lottery is a single, random lottery that determines placement for new students at all participating schools.
See in-boundary school.
An open house is a time when you can visit a school and learn more about it. Each school sets the dates and times of its open house(s). You can see open house dates here or on individual school profile pages. For more information, please contact the schools directly.
An out-of-boundary school is any DCPS school that is not the student’s right-to-attend school.
A DCPS school or public charter school that has agreed to be part of My School DC. All DCPS schools and most public charter schools are participating.
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.
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 charters), proximity preference (DCPS only), in-boundary preference (DCPS PK3 and PK4 only), and Adams-boundary preference (Oyster-Adams Bilingual School only). Learn more about preferences.
Your child will receive preference in the lottery if he or she lives within a reasonable walking distance of a DCPS school. It is defined as a theoretical square oriented north-south with the school in the center and the sides measuring 3,000 feet for elementary schools and education campuses and 5,000 feet for middle schools. Proximity preference applies only to DCPS schools.
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.
All DCPS and DC public charter schools require parents and guardians to present proof of DC residency in person as part of the enrollment process. Residency requirements are the documents they must present to prove residency.
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. There are two types of right-to-attend schools for K–12 students: in-boundary schools and feeder-pattern schools. Learn more about right-to-attend 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. Sibling preference applies to DCPS and charter schools. Specifics vary by school, so if you have questions, it’s best to contact the school.
Public schools do not discriminate based on special education needs of students. Special education students 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.
DCPS has six specialized high schools that admit students based on specific criteria, or eligibility requirements. Anyone can apply to these schools, but only students who meet a specialized high school’s requirements will be eligible to attend that school.
When schools have more applicants than spaces, students who are not matched to the school are placed on the school’s waitlist. When a space opens, the school offers the space to students on the waitlist. The waitlist order is determined by the lottery.