Participation in Denver’s unified enrollment system, which parents can use to apply for any of the district’s public or charter schools, jumped nearly 10 percent this year, the district reported Friday.
Close to 25,000 students applied through the system, compared to 22,729 last year. That means well over a quarter of the district’s 90,000 students used the SchoolChoice system.
Families learned by email today which schools their children will be attending.
SchoolChoice was introduced four years ago to replace a convoluted system in which there were dozens of applications to various public and charter schools in the city.
This year, 95 percent of students were placed in one of their top five schools, compared to 94 percent last year. That’s a reversal from last year’s trend, when there was a drop in the number of students who were placed in their requested schools.
DPS officials say they will work directly with any families who did not receive a placement in any of the schools to which they applied.
Most families who used the enrollment system are preparing for transition years: Kindergarten, sixth, or ninth grades. This year, kindergartners were most likely receive first-choice schools: 83 percent, compared to 74 percent of sixth graders, 77 percent of ninth graders, and 78 percent of students overall.
Areas of the city that now have shared enrollment zones saw particularly high participation. Under the shared zone system, students are not guaranteed a spot in one particular school, but are guaranteed a spot in one of a number of schools within a limited geographic area.
DPS said the enrollment zones in west and southwest Denver saw the biggest bumps in participation in SchoolChoice, with 91 percent of students in those zones submitting applications compared to 67 percent last year.
The district created two new shared enrollment zones this year, including the one in southwest Denver.
District officials are also predicting that more middle school students will enroll next year than ever before. In Stapleton and the Far Northeast there were particularly big jumps. For instance, in Stapleton, 417 sixth graders enrolled in DPS schools in 2009, compared to 735 projected to enroll this year.
The district has at times walked a tightrope as it tries to create broad selection of school choice options while also supporting neighborhood schools.
In a press release, Superintendent Tom Boasberg emphasized that neighborhood schools still have a role. “We always recommend families look first to their neighborhood schools,” said Boasberg. “We know it is also important to provide schools throughout the city that meet the unique needs of our students.”
A report from A+ Denver, a local education advocacy group, released earlier this year found that most families in Denver that used SchoolChoice were placed in their top choice school, but that there are still inequities in the quality of schools where low-income and higher-income families enroll.
DPS officials said they would provide more information about school choice participation later this spring.