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A Closer Look at: School of Choice in DPS

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 Leave a Comment

by Marissa Ferrari

In November, we got to know Loan Maas, the new principal at Stapleton’s neighborhood high school, George Washington, and got an insider perspective on GW’s academic approach and college-prep programs. This month, we talk with Shannon Fitzgerald, Director of Choice & Enrollment Services about the School of Choice program.

What is School of Choice in DPS?
School of Choice is the process that allows students to apply to enroll in a traditional DPS school that is not their neighborhood school.

How does the process work?
Beginning January 3rd, School of Choice applications are available at http://soco.dpsk12.org and at all traditional DPS schools. The application is a simple one-page form that takes 5 minutes to fill out. All you need is your student’s ID#. On the form, you can list up to two traditional DPS schools. Parents may then submit the application to any DPS school, between January 3-31, 2011.

If you are new to DPS and your student does not yet have a DPS ID#, you can complete a Pre-Enroll form in January, 2011 to get an assignment to your neighborhood school. Once you have completed this step, you can fill out a School of Choice application.  Birth certificate and proof of address must accompany the Pre-Enroll form. Pre-Enroll forms will be available at all DPS schools and on the School of Choice Web site January 3, 2011.  

How is acceptance determined?
If there is space for every School of Choice applicant at a school, all applicants are accepted. If there are more applicants than space available, the Choice & Enrollment Services office will assign random numbers to each applicant, which will determine their placement on the school’s selection list.

All applicants fall within a priority group, and then are assigned a random number. We place as many applicants as we can from that randomly assigned list, and then put any remaining students on a waitlist in order of their lottery assignment.

So, for example, if your student came up 25th on the randomized list, and the school could only take 20 students, your student would be fifth on the waiting list.

I should point out that the priority groups have changed for the 2011-2012 school year. Of particular interest to parents who are also DPS school-based employees is the fact that their children now have a priority at the school at which their parent works.

So, what are my chances of getting in?
About 85% of students who use School of Choice are placed at their first-preference school. Very popular options, such as East High School, have a higher percentage of students placed on their waitlist.

If you aren’t accepted at your first-choice school, you can apply to as many other traditional schools as you’d like during the Second Round – March 1 through August 31, 2011. Second Round is a first-come, first-served basis. Apply directly at the school you’re interested in.

Can I apply to any DPS school using School of Choice?
No. School of Choice is the process for applying to traditional, or “neighborhood”, DPS schools. Examples of traditional schools include Montclair Elementary and Denver Green School ECE-8.  Magnet schools or programs – such as the International Baccalaureate program at George Washington – as well as charter schools such as DSST have their own, separate application processes. Check with the school you’re interested in to determine whether it’s a traditional, magnet or charter school and be sure to ask about application requirements and timelines.

The process is also a little different for preschool and kindergarten. It’s the same timeline – January 3-31, 2011 – but the application is different. You can get all of the details at http://earlyeducation.dpsk12.org and there’s also an overview of the process on Page 3 of the Enrollment Guide.

It’s important to note that you can apply for as many magnet or charter schools as you’d like. These applications have no bearing on your School of Choice application.

How do I figure out what schools I want to apply to?
There are a lot of options for researching schools. Download a copy of the DPS Enrollment guide at http://www.dpsk12.org/pdf/2011-2012%20Enrollment%20Guide%20English.pdf. It’s a good starting point because it includes contact information for all schools, shows schools on a map and includes in-depth profiles of high schools.

You can also get a sense for the buzz around schools by checking out conversations on Stapleton Mommies or even on this Web site!

Some other Web sites we point parents toward include the DPS School Performance Framework page, which includes detailed “scorecards” for all DPS schools (including magnets and charters). http://communications.dpsk12.org/initiatives/school-performance-framework/. Another great option is www.scooptoo.com. This site includes in-depth profiles of select DPS schools, created by two moms who personally visit each school they review. Rather than focusing on test scores, ScoopToo reviews describe other important factors like school leadership, school culture and quality of programs and facilities.

Once you’ve researched specific schools, you can contact the school directly to meet the principal, take a tour or have your child spend time with other students or in classrooms – what DPS calls “shadowing.” Contact information for all schools can be found at http://www.dpsk12.org/schoollist/.

Where can I get more information?
Visit http://soco.dpsk12.org or call (720) 423-3493 to speak with a School of Choice Liaison.







1 comments »

  • Liz said:  

    Thanks for this timely information! I'm getting ready to apply for kindergarten, and all 3 Stapleton schools are choice.