Applying to High School

Applying to High School

The District is home to over 30 public and public charter high schools (grades 9-12). Students can apply to up to 12 high schools on the My School DC application. They also have the option of enrolling directly at their DCPS in-boundary high school or applying to a school that does not participate in My School DC. My School DC can help you navigate your high school options.

 

Learn About Your High School Options

  • Make a list. Use the School Finder and search for schools by address, grade and program type (such as interscholastic sports, STEM, AP classes, and more). You can also locate your in-boundary school using the School Finder by entering your home address.
  • Check out the high schools’ school profiles. They show basic information about each school, such as contact information and extracurricular activities offered, and you can view their open house schedules.
  • Understand each school’s requirements. Some high schools are selective and have specific admissions requirements students must meet (see section on selective high schools below), some have age cutoffs, and some require transcript reviews of credits earned for promotion to the grade you’re applying to. (For example, some schools do not give credit for classes where a “D” is earned in a class.) Work with your middle school counselor for guidance on requirements.
  • Go to EdFEST and other school fairs. EdFEST is the citywide public school fair. All DCPS and public charter high schools exhibit at EdFEST in December and there are smaller fairs later in the year. Download these helpful questions, bring them with you to ask at school booths on your list to help narrow your choices.
  • Visit schools. Visit or call the schools on your list to get a feel for the school and what the commute to school looks like.
  • Use your networks. It is helpful to talk with people you know (e.g., neighbors, friends, school counselors) who are knowledgeable about the schools you are thinking of applying to.
  • Decide your ranking. You will rank your final list of schools in the order you like them (your 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.). Ranking your list in this order is important. Here’s why.

 

APPLY by FEBRUARY 3

  • Set up one family account. This account will be used to submit your application and any siblings’ applications (if applicable).
  • Gather all of the information you need to complete your My School DC application.
    • Remember: Selective high schools and programs require additional information on the My School DC application. Learn about these requirements below and make sure you allow yourself enough time to gather them prior to the February 3 application deadline.
    • If you have a mix of public charter schools, DCPS selective schools and programs, and traditional DCPS high schools, you still rank them together and in the order you like them. The order you rank your schools does not affect your chances of acceptance to a selective school nor does it affect any preferences you may qualify for such as sibling or transfer preference.
  • Select the schools on your list and rank them in the order you like them (1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.).
  • Review your choices to ensure they are ranked in the order you like most, and submit your application. You have until February 3 to make any edits on your application and until March 15 to update your school rankings.

TIP: There is no guarantee of a lottery match or waitlist offer at the schools you apply to. Apply to all schools you are willing to attend. Click on a school's profile to view the number of seats offered in the past year's lottery and historical waitlist length and movement. Note that not all schools have offered seats to students in every grade.

 

Transcripts and Credits

All public DC high schools have minimum graduation requirements. Individual schools may have additional required courses and the threshold for a passing grade can vary (e.g., you can earn credit with a “D” at one high school, but need at least a “C” at another). Many schools do require a transcript review in order for a student to enroll and a passing grade at one school does not necessarily earn credit at another.

 


Types of Public High Schools


Public Charter Schools
DC public charter schools are tuition-free public schools that do not have boundaries and are open to all DC residents without selective entrance requirements. Students seeking to be a new student at a public charter high school (grades 9-12) must complete a My School DC application. To begin your search, use the School Finder and narrow by grade and program type. You can see the distance from each school to your home address and view 8 a.m. transit times.

DCPS Schools
Each student that resides in the District of Columbia has a DCPS elementary, middle and high school they have a right to attend for grades K-12 based on the school boundary in which they live. These schools are often referred to as a student’s in-boundary or neighborhood school. Students who seek to attend their in-boundary high school (grades 9-12) can directly enroll at that school. A My School DC application is not required. DCPS also has a number of citywide schools that do not have boundaries. Students who wish to attend a citywide school or a school that is not their in-boundary school must complete a My School DC application. To find your DCPS in-boundary high school, use the School Finder and search by home address.

Feeder Schools
Students enrolled in a middle school or education campus may have the right to attend that school’s feeder high school (grades 9-12) – i.e., the high school assigned to that school’s feeder pattern – by directly enrolling at that school. A My School DC application is not required. To find out if your middle school has a feeder high school, use the School Finder and search by grade and school name. If you accept a seat at a school outside your feeder pattern, you may lose the right to that feeder pattern. Please check with your school for more information or call the My School DC Hotline at (202) 888-6336.

DCPS selective high schools and programs
DCPS selective high schools and programs do not have boundaries and admit students based on specific criteria. Students seeking to attend a DCPS selective high school or program must submit a My School DC application. DCPS has eight selective high schools and programs that admit students based on specific admissions requirements and selection criteria. Anyone can apply to these schools and programs. An applicant’s eligibility for admission is determined based on the school's admissions criteria and rubrics. Students applying to one or more DCPS selective high school or program must complete an additional section of the My School DC application on which schools may require the following components:

  • Report Cards. With the exception of Bard DC 9th and 10th grades, all DCPS selective high schools and programs require recent grades be uploaded to a student's My School DC application. Some schools ask that attendance information be included as well.
  • PARCC Scores. Four schools require students to provide PARCC scores, but there is no minimum score required to apply.
  • Essay. Some schools require essays be completed through the application and others require the essay be completed in person. School Without Walls does not require an essay at all.
  • Recommendations. With the exception of School Without Walls, all schools require two or three recommendations, which are submitted through the My School DC application.

Please note, admission to a selective high school or program is based on students meeting specific criteria, not random lottery. More here on how the lottery matching works.

Familiarize yourself with each selective high school and program’s application requirements and selection criteria below.

TIP: Students: Write your essay in a Word document first to check for spelling (the application does not have spellcheck), word and character count. Save, then copy and paste onto the application when ready.

Click here to download a copy of the requirements for selective high schools and programs (PDF)

Adult or Alternative Education Options

There are public and public charter high schools that serve special populations and do not participate in the My School DC lottery program. The District also has a ReEngagement Center that offers a range of services to District youth (ages 16-24) not currently in school and who don’t have a high school diploma or GED to help them reconnect to educational options and other critical services to support their attainment of a diploma or GED. Visit https://backontrackdc.osse.dc.gov/about to learn more.

 

SY2020-21 REQUIREMENTS FOR ADMISSION TO DCPS SELECTIVE HIGH SCHOOLS

 

BARD HIGH SCHOOL EARLY COLLEGE DC

Report Card: Final SY18-19 and SY19-20 First Quarter report cards required for 11th graders only. GPA of 2.0 or above recommended.
PARCC Scores: No
Essay: Yes (to be completed at Bard, and not through the My School DC application)
Admissions Process: Application review; Essay (on-site); Individual interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): Math teacher; English teacher
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 11th

 

BENJAMIN BANNEKER HIGH SCHOOL

Report Card: SY19-20 First Quarter, no minimum GPA requirement
PARCC Scores*: Required, no minimum score requirement
Essay: Yes       
Essay Question: Discuss why you wish to attend Benjamin Banneker Academic High School.
Essay Character Limit**: Word count: 250 words; Character limit: 5,000
Admissions Process: Application review; Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher; Counselor
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 10th

 

*If student did not take PARCC, include other state standardized test scores on the My School DC application for schools that require them.

**The My School DC application does not have spellcheck or character count. It is recommended that students first write their essay in a Word document to check for spelling and character count limits, save, then copy and paste onto the application when ready.

 

COLUMBIA HEIGHTS EDUCATION CAMPUS (CHEC)

Report Card: SY19-20 First Quarter; Attendance should be included on report card.
PARCC Scores: No
Essay: No essay; however, a student interest survey is required.
Admissions Process: Application review; Individual review
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 12th

 

DUKE ELLINGTON SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

Report Card: SY19-20 First Quarter; Attendance should be included on report card.
PARCC Scores: No
Essay: Yes
Essay Questions:
#1: Please write a paragraph explaining why this art (selected in the application) is important to you and what role art plays in your life.​

#2: Most applicants audition for a single arts area, however you may also request an audition for a second arts area. Please write a paragraph explaining why this art (selected in the application) is important to you and what role art plays in your life.​
Essay Character Limit**: 5,000 characters per essay
Admissions Process: Application review; Audition; Academic placement assessment; Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): Math teacher; Art teacher (or other); Counselor
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 12th­

**The My School DC application does not have spellcheck or character count. It is recommended that students first write their essay in a Word document to check for spelling and character count limits, save, then copy and paste onto the application when ready.

 

EARLY COLLEGE ACADEMY at COOLIDGE HIGH SCHOOL

Report Card: SY19-20 First Quarter
PARCC Scores*: Required, no minimum score requirement
Essay: Yes (To be completed at Early College Academy at Coolidge HS; not through the My School DC application.)
Admissions Process: Application review; Essay (on-site); Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher, Math teacher
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th and 10th

*If student did not take PARCC, include other state standardized test scores on the My School DC application for schools that require them.

 

McKINLEY TECHNOLOGY HIGH SCHOOL

Report Card: Final SY18-19 and SY19-20 First Quarter; GPA of 3.0 or above recommended
PARCC Scores*: Required, no minimum score requirement
Essay: Yes (To be completed at McKinley Tech; not through the My School DC application.)
Admissions Process: Application review; Essay (on-site); Individual interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher; Counselor
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th - 11th

*If student did not take PARCC, include other state standardized test scores on the My School DC application for schools that require them.

 

PHELPS ARCHITECTURE, CONSTRUCTION, AND ENGINEERING HIGH SCHOOL

Report Card: SY19-20 First Quarter; Attendance should be included on report card.
PARCC Scores*: Required, no minimum score requirement  
Essay: Yes
Essay Question: Describe and evaluate one experience that significantly influenced your academic interests in Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School
Essay Character Limit**: Character limit: 5,000
Admissions Process: Application review; Family interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): English teacher; Math teacher
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th - 11th

 

*If student did not take PARCC, include other state standardized test scores on the My School DC application for schools that require them.

**The My School DC application does not have spellcheck or character count. It is recommended that students first write their essay in a Word document to check for spelling and character count limits, save, then copy and paste onto the application when ready.

 

SCHOOL WITHOUT WALLS HIGH SCHOOL

Report Card: Final SY18-19, GPA of 3.0 or above required
PARCC Scores: No
Essay: No
Admissions Process: Application review; Admissions test; Student & Parent / Guardian interview
RECOMMENDATIONS (completed online through My School DC application): None
Grades Accepting Applications: 9th – 12th­