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Denver school choice: Look up how many students were accepted and waitlisted in 2020

Yadira Rodriguez gets her hair done by Mareli Padilla-Mejia on the first day of school at McGlone Academy on August 15, 2018.
AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

Before the coronavirus upended American education, shuttering schools and turning kitchens into classrooms, Denver families faced a big decision: which school to choose for the fall.

Most Denver students are guaranteed a seat at the school in their neighborhood. But the 92,000-student district encourages families to research other schools to find the best fit, whether that’s a traditional district-run school or an autonomous charter school.

This year, Denver families could submit up to 12 rank-ordered school choices in January and February. Families found out in March where their children were accepted.

Acceptance depends on several factors, including the school’s capacity, its enrollment priorities, a student’s address, and their lottery number.

Eighty-four percent of students got into the Denver school they ranked No. 1. That’s slightly up from last year, when 83% of students got into their first-choice school.

The searchable databases below show how many students were accepted at each Denver school in the so-called transition grades of kindergarten, sixth grade, and ninth grade. The “accepted” numbers include both students who applied through school choice and students who didn’t apply but who live within the school’s boundary and will likely attend.

The databases also show how many students are on each school’s waitlist. A single student can be on multiple waitlists. For example, if a student gets into his third-choice school, he’ll be put on the waitlist for his first- and second-choice schools.

There are several more caveats to the data, which we detail below.

One caveat is that these numbers will change by the fall. Students move in and out of neighborhoods over the summer, and most schools keep seats open for such students. Students also move off and on waitlists.

The coronavirus is also a factor this year. It’s not yet clear if school buildings will reopen in the fall — and even if they do, some families may choose to keep their children home.

Another caveat is that at some schools, the number of “accepted” students might look artificially low. That’s because those schools span grade levels and do not require students to apply to continue to the next level.

For example, an eighth grader at DSST Montview Middle School would not have to apply to enroll in ninth grade at DSST Montview High School. Only students who didn’t attend DSST Montview Middle School would have to apply.

And finally, a note about Denver School of the Arts. It’s the only school in Denver that requires an audition to get in. It runs its own application process separate from the district process.

Families who didn’t participate in school choice in January and February have another shot. A second round of school choice is now open. You can find more information here.

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