What are student assignment policies?
Student assignment policies establish the access rights that families and students have to public schools in Washington, DC. School choice and student assignment policies determine who gets to go to which school, where and how families and students apply to school, what rights students have to remain in a school they have chosen, and what rights students have to transfer between schools.
What are the goals of this process?
The Boundary Study will develop recommendations to address three goals specified in Council legislation:
- Students have clear assignments to schools of right based on DCPS attendance zones and feeder pathways;
- There is adequate capacity in the geographically zoned DCPS facilities at each grade level (Pre-Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle, and High), including feeder pathways, taking current and future population and enrollment trends into account; and
- There is equitable access among District students to high-quality public schools.
When will changes take effect?
The charge of the Advisory Committee is to develop recommendations that will be presented to the Mayor. The Mayor will then assign the associated agencies to develop implementation plans to put those approved recommendations into place. The earliest any changes to school assignment zones or feeder patterns implemented from the Boundary Study would go into effect are SY2025-26, starting in August of 2025. New policies will be clear to families in advance of the lottery process that begins in December 2024. However, to support a smooth transition, “phase-in” provisions may buffer the immediate impact on many current students and their families. No student will be required to enroll in a different school than they are currently enrolled.
What is the role of the DC Advisory Committee on Student Assignment?
The Advisory Committee, chaired by Deputy Mayor Paul Kihn, is charged with developing recommendations addressing the three goals that will be presented to the Mayor via a public report, the Boundary Study. The Advisory Committee members will consider research, analysis, and public discussion and feedback to develop the policy recommendations. The Advisory Committee will:
- Formulate guidelines and principles for public school assignment and choice policies and practices.
- Review current citywide policies on attendance zones, feeder patterns, and school choice.
- Review data and information.
- Listen to the community and incorporate community ideas, concerns, and questions into Committee discussions.
- Develop recommendations and scenarios for attendance zones and feeder patterns.
- Make recommendations for student assignment and choice policies to improve access to high-quality public schools.
The DME will present the finalized Boundary Study to the Mayor who will then identify the agencies to develop implementation plans for the approved recommendations.
How were the Advisory Committee members chosen?
Members of the Advisory Committee were recommended by education stakeholders and selected by the DME to reflect Washington, DC’s public school education system including ward of residence (taking the most recent 2022 redistricting into account) and enrollment preferences. These members are invested in their school communities and are committed to the success of the public education system and the future of our city. The DME considered the following criteria for the committee:
- Public school involvement
- Ward representation similar to the current public school population
- Enrollment types similar to the current public school population
- Diverse experiences and perspectives
- Zoned school and citywide school representation
- Expertise in relevant content areas
To see the list of committee members, please visit the DC Advisory Committee on Student Assignment and Boundaries 2023 page.
Will the Advisory Committee meetings be open to the public?
Advisory Committee meetings are public – they will be live-streamed with limited space for the public to attend in person. Agendas, meeting summaries, documents, and presentations shared with the Committee will be posted to the Boundary Study website. Additionally, there will be many opportunities for broad community engagement so that the Advisory Committee can hear from the public, including a series of three community town halls and engagements with specific school communities.
What is the breakdown by ward of representatives on the advisory committee?
The Advisory Committee on Student Assignment and Boundaries 2023 contains 15 ward designated members. The number of ward designated seats are approximate to Washington, DC’s public school population:
- Ward 1: 1 representative
- Ward 2: 1 representative
- Ward 3: 1 representative
- Ward 4: 3 representatives
- Ward 5: 2 representatives
- Ward 6: 1 representative
- Ward 7: 3 representatives
- Ward 8: 3 representatives
In addition, the Advisory Committee includes four citywide representatives, seven District agency and LEA members, and the Deputy Mayor for Education as the chair. For more information about the Advisory Committee, visit the Advisory Committee page on this website.
How is this advisory committee coordinating with other relevant DC agencies to consider issues relating to economic development, growth trends in certain areas, transportation, crime, etc.?
The DME works cross-agency and across government clusters on a number of these issues to ensure our efforts are coordinated with other DC government efforts as closely as possible. For example, we work with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Planning (DMPED) and the Office of Planning (OP) to coordinate with the DC’s Comeback Plan, Office of Planning’s Comprehensive Plan and small area specific plans, and DMPED’s affordable housing efforts. While we don’t anticipate making explicit recommendations for economic development or public safety, for example, we want to connect the work of this study and the Advisory Committee to the efforts underway on those issues.
How can parents, students, school staff, and the public participate in the process?
There are several ways to participate:
- Attend citywide town halls. There will be three rounds of citywide town halls: in the spring of 2023 where the public may share your ideas about the vision, goals, and principles for public school assignment and choice policies; in the summer of 2023 to provide feedback on initial policy recommendations and boundary and feeder scenarios; and fall of 2023 to provide feedback on revised recommendations. See here for information from the May town halls and for information about the summer town halls in July.
- As scenarios for boundaries and feeder changes are developed, join engagement sessions with school communities significantly impacted by proposed scenarios.
- Online form
- Email us! [email protected]
How will you center voices of parents who have been excluded from opportunity in this process? We all know that without intentionality, the loudest voices will be from those protecting their privilege in the existing system.
The goal of this process is to develop school assignment policy recommendations based on feedback from communities – and the voices of parents and families who have been historically excluded from opportunity in particular are critical for this process to be successful.
We have structured the Advisory Committee proportional to Washington, DC’s public school population. This means that Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 have more representatives than areas with fewer public school students (Wards 2, 3, and 6).
DME staff including DME’s Community Ambassador who is engaging with families in schools and neighborhoods every day, are collecting feedback directly from school-based and stakeholder engagement. DME intends to attend DPR summer programming to also solicit feedback directly from families.
And we need your help! We know that families are being asked for a lot of input on a lot of different initiatives. We encourage families to spread the word and engage your friends and neighbors. Reach out to [email protected] with ideas for places, times, and ways to connect with parents and families who may not have heard of this or aren’t aware of how it may impact them.
Would it be possible to have some school specific meetings in advance of the fall prior to the committee making recommendations?
We understand that school communities want to understand and provide specific feedback on potential recommendations. As scenarios for boundaries and feeder changes are developed, the DME and Advisory Committee plan to engage with school communities significantly impacted by proposed scenarios to share draft recommendations in the fall. Recommendations will not be finalized and submitted to the Mayor until winter 2023-24. In addition, school communities are encouraged to attend the virtual town halls that will be held in July and other in person engagement opportunities throughout the summer and fall.
Is the Advisory Committee attending the town halls? How do the questions and feedback from the town halls get back to the actual committee?
Members of the Advisory Committee attend the town halls and receive summary information (e.g., key themes, questions and answers, etc.) following each round and are provided summaries at the following Advisory Committee meetings. Additionally, all of the individual responses from the town hall interactive sessions are also available on the Boundary Study town hall page of this website. Families and stakeholders are also encouraged to submit their ideas, concerns, and feedback through the Boundary Study general feedback form. Information from this form is also shared with the Advisory Committee.
Is the Advisory Committee considering shifting some middle school or high schools from neighborhood to city-wide schools? Particularly schools that offer specialized programming such as Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC) or Oyster-Adams Bilingual School, or schools offering IB programming?
As of June 2023, the Advisory Committee is still in the early stages of discussion and not yet at the point of making specific recommendations. We encourage stakeholders to share their ideas through our feedback form or by emailing DME’s planning and analysis team [email protected].
Are you looking at data on racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in schools as part of this assessment? How do you ensure that diversity isn’t ignored when changing boundaries?
One of the key components of this Boundary study is to look at the potential impacts when a boundary or feeder pattern is adjusted based on a number of different factors, including racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. In addition, the Advisory Committee has incorporated racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity into their guiding principles. These guiding principles will help it prioritize challenges to focus on as part of this process.
Do we think about actual usable space when we talk about utilization? Some of the rooms and spaces are not usable and closed off.
As part of the concurrent Master Facility Plan 2023, Perkins Eastman is walking every DCPS facility and looking at room use in every single room. If a room is not usable for a variety of reasons (e.g., facility deficiency), then the room would not be counted for capacity purposes. However, if that room was empty and just being used for storage because it is empty, then the room would be factored into the capacity for the building. School facility walk-throughs are being done with school representatives who will be able to provide context about how and why a room is being used in a particular way. In addition, DME and Perkins Eastman will be doing engagement with communities on the capacity calculations. For more information about the school capacity development as part of the Master Facilities Plan 2023, view the May 2023 town hall presentation and recordings.
How are you defining “high quality public schools” as it pertains to goal #3?
Quality is understood in a number of important ways such as ensuring students meet academic standards, offering robust academic programming, providing a caring and supportive learning environment, ensuring teaching staff are highly qualified and effective, and offering rich extra curricular programming.
Our job here – in the Boundary Study – is not to develop the definitive source or definition of quality. OSSE leads those efforts to define quality for accountability purpose. We want to focus on the policies that assist equitable access to schools and programs that families perceive as quality. For our purposes, we will be relying on the accountability measures provided by OSSE and a measure of family demand incorporating enrollment at in-boundary DCPS schools as well as acceptance and enrollment in seats offered through the My School DC lottery.
Who do you contact if you have questions?
If you have any questions, please email [email protected].