BPS has adopted a Home-Based student assignment policy to assign students to kindergarten through grade 8. All of our high schools remain citywide options for our students.
The Home-Based plan uses a student’s home as the starting point.
The Home-Based plan is designed to make sure every family has high-quality schools on their customized lists. Under the School Quality Framework, each school receives a score from 0-100 based on various metrics across five different categories: Student Performance; Family, Community, and Culture; Teaching and Learning; Leadership and Collaboration; and Student Access and Opportunities*. The measurements in these categories reflect what the BPS community values in its schools and believes should be found in every high-quality school.
The Home-Based plan continues to work to keep families together. As such, the plan includes sibling priority. While BPS cannot guarantee siblings seats in a particular school, the sibling priority is the highest priority we offer to ensure that we make every effort within our policies to keep families together.
Supporting English Learners and Students with Disabilities
Understanding the Home-Based school choice plan
What are "priorities?"
Sometimes a school doesn’t have room for every student who lists it as a choice. When this happens, the computer assigns students based on choice and priorities. Sibling priority is our highest priority, and other priorities include EEC/ELC priority, present school priority, and East Boston/Non-East Boston priority.
We try to assign children in the same family to the same school if the parent requests it. If you want your children to go to the same school, ask the Welcome Center staff how to apply for sibling priority. However, sometimes a school doesn’t have room for all the siblings who apply for it; so we can’t guarantee sibling assignments. Be sure to list sibling preference the first time you apply.
Present School Priority
Present school priority gives a student priority to a program in his/her school over another student attending a different school. For example, a student currently enrolled in grade 3 at the Hennigan School will receive a priority to a grade 4 AWC (Advanced Work Course) seat at the Hennigan over a grade 3 student attending the Mendell School who has selected the Hennigan AWC program.
Priority for EEC and ELC students applying for Grade 2
Students completing grade 1 at an Early Learning Center (ELC) or Early Education Center (EEC) that does not have a Pathway school will be assigned to available grade 2 seats before students new to the BPS or those applying for transfers from other elementary schools.
When assigning these students to grade 2 seats, including assignments from wait lists, the usual factors will be considered, including the registration period when the students applied, priorities, and a random number. Exceptions may include program seats for English Language Learners, services for some students with disabilities, and middle school-age students because some East Boston elementary schools have pathways to middle schools in Charlestown.
East Boston/Non-East Boston priority
Due to its unique location, East Boston general education students beginning in K2 have a guarantee to an assignment in East Boston, if they so choose.
The computer gives each application a random number. Random numbers are used to break “ties” between students who have the same priorities for the school.
How does this work? Let’s say there is one seat left for K2 at the Kenny School. All applicants with sibling have been assigned. Three additional students, all without sibling priority, listed the Kenny as their first choice. The student with the lowest (“best”) random number will be assigned.
Middle School Pathways
Middle School Pathways link elementary schools with middle schools.
Grade 5 students who are currently enrolled in a K-5 school will receive a guarantee to their middle school pathway school. Parents and students may also visit a Welcome Center to select a different school from within their customized Home-Based list and enter the choice process. If the parent does not select the guaranteed middle school pathway, and the student cannot be assigned to a chosen school because of seat availability, the BPS will administratively assign the student to a home-based school.
State law requires every child must attend school beginning in September of the calendar year in which the child turns six years old. If you do not receive one of your school choices, or, for currently enrolled students, you do not return an application for a student age six and older starting a “transition grade,” we will assign the student to the school closest to home that has a seat.
For students entering grades K2, 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8, an administrative assignment will be made to a school on a student’s customized home-based choice list. However, due to the grandfathering provision, which allows current BPS students to continue in their school and program, seat availability in the other grades may be limited. Students entering grades 4 and 5 may still receive an administrative assignment based on the prior zone-structure. When assigning students in these grades, we will use the following order during the algorithm run. If there is no seat available at one level, the computer will move to the next. Here is how it works:
Generally, kindergarten students are not administratively assigned, unless you have requested us to do so by selecting this option on the registration form. However, if your child will turn six years old before December 31, the district will assign your child to a school even if you do not receive one of your choices. If your child will remain five years old (or younger) through December 31, and you are not assigned to one of your schools of choice, you may return to a Welcome Center to make additional choices.
If you don’t get your first choice, the computer will assign your child to one of your other choices, or your child will be "administratively assigned" (see below). Your child may also be placed on a wait list for one or more of your other choices. Here are the rules for wait lists:
Coming Off a Wait List
When seats become available, students will be assigned from wait lists based on round applied, the assignment priorities, and random numbers.
From mid-March through mid-August, as seats become available, children are automatically moved off the wait list into their chosen school. Families receive notification about their new school assignment with a letter sent in the mail.
For kindergarteners after mid-August, if a space becomes available at a school with a wait list, families on the wait lists are contacted in order. Families have 24 hours to decide if they want to attend the school. Families are contacted only at the phone numbers they listed on their registration form. This process continues into the school year through January as seats become available.
For students in grades 1 through 12, if a space becomes available at a school with a wait list, families on the wait list are contacted from mid-August through the end of September.
After September, families are only contacted about transferring schools where they are wait-listed after marking periods (mid to late November and late January). Families have 24 hours to decide if they want to attend the school and families are contacted only at the phone numbers they have listed on their registration form.
All lists, regardless of grade, expire at the end of the second marking period (January of the following year).
If your child is already enrolled in the Boston Public Schools and you want to enroll in a different school next year, you may apply for a transfer. For the best chance of receiving approval for your transfer request, apply during the first opportunity for your child's grade level:
Families also may apply to change schools during the current school year. Requests received by September 30 will be processed as they are received. Requests received after September 30 will be processed in two batches: mid-November and late January. Regardless of when you apply, we can’t guarantee your transfer request will be approved.
School Committee policy limits the number of times students may transfer to a different school: