As of March 15, 2018 (Posted May 2018)
Each spring, charter schools send the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) the number of students enrolled for the upcoming school year as well as the number of students who were placed on the schools' waitlists through each school's initial lottery, which is typically held in February or March.
The information provided below reflects the number of students who applied to charter schools but did not gain admittance as of March 15, 2018. This initial 2018-2019 waitlist report finds the following:
It is important to note that for the second consecutive year, the same 16 Commonwealth charter schools utilized the Boston Charter School Application online application system for the 2018-19 application cycle. This system makes it easier for families to apply to one or more of the participating charter schools. While the total number of waitlist records decreased when compared to last spring's initial waitlist report (56,233 in March 2018 compared to 58,733 in March 2017), the total number of unique students newly applying to at least one charter school increased (26,579 in March 2018 compared to 24,524 in March 2017). The total number of unique students decreased from 31,600 students in March 2017 to 29,430 in March 2018.
The decline in the total number of waitlist records and the total number of unique students may be attributed to the 4,225 reduction in the number unique students appearing on waitlists established prior to March 31, 2014. This reduction is due to four schools choosing to no longer maintain waitlists established prior to March 31, 2014 as indicated in their amended enrollment policies, as well as the expiration of one of the other schools' waitlists established prior to March 31, 2014. Another factor that continues to contribute to the decline of the total number of unique students has been an increase in the number of schools that are continuing to grow or have increased access to new seats by revising backfilling practices to exceed requirements.4
In 2014, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted regulations requiring charter schools to refresh their waitlists every year, based on the most recent application cycle for the upcoming school year. These regulations, however, allowed schools to keep students on their waitlists who submitted applications before March 31, 2014. As shown in the table below, 3 schools continue to include such students from prior years on their active waitlists.
This year's report continues to build on the additional support and technical assistance provided by the Department to the field over the past few years. The Department continues its efforts to increase the timeliness and accuracy of school waitlist reports. Each charter school is responsible for maintaining its own individual waitlist. To ensure uniformity, the Department created a waitlist collection template and required charter schools to use it to input waitlist data. This template embedded tools that automatically flagged duplicate records, which each school could then remove before submitting its waitlist. The template also embedded tools that flagged the waitlist for other inconsistencies, such as unrealistic dates of birth (e.g., 2/28/2018). In order to verify student information and address overall waitlist accuracy, the Department corrected any transcription errors or inconsistencies in submitted charter school waitlists. Additionally, charter schools that self-identified as including waitlists established prior to March 31, 2014, as permitted by 603 CMR 1.05(10)(a), were required to identify each individual student who was included in those waitlists (and continued to remain on their waitlist) and each student who was removed from those waitlists. Finally, the Department continued to implement its previously revised and updated matching process in order to increase accuracy for identifying students who applied for admission to more than one charter school.
The Department has made significant improvements over the years in quantifying the exact number of students who may be actively waiting for admission to a charter school. The unique waitlist counts provided in this current report should be taken as the Department's best understanding and representation of initial demand for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year rather than exact numbers of students willing to accept offers at each school.
The Department thanks all of the charter school administrators and staff who worked diligently to report their waitlists as accurately and as promptly as possible.
The appendix to this report can be found in the attached Excel file, which contains:
For more information on waitlist policy and procedures and the number of students found on previous cycles of charter school waitlists, see Charter School Technical Advisory 16-3: Enrollment Processes and FAQ's Charter Schools Enrollemnt website. For further information regarding this report, please contact Brenton Stewart or the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign at email@example.com.
1 The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted changes to the charter school regulations in March 2014 (see 603 CMR 1.05(10)(a)), which has affected how charter schools collect waitlist data. Under the amended regulations, charter schools maintain waitlists only for the school year for which students applied (i.e., carrying over student names from enrollment lotteries from one year to another is no longer permitted). However, charter schools were allowed to maintain any waitlists that were established prior to March 31, 2014 until such waitlists are exhausted, provided that such maintenance is clearly articulated in the school's enrollment policy approved by the Department.
2 The Department has worked with schools to identify the students who were placed on waitlists prior to March 31, 2014. This additional information allows the Department to identify students who submitted applications for admittance in the current year.
3 Note: Out of 26,579 newly applying students in 2018-2019, 170 were added to new waitlists while still remaining on other school waitlists based on applications submitted prior to March 31, 2014.
4 To meet the requirements of M.G.L. c. 70, § 89(n), charter schools must continue all reasonable efforts to fill vacant seats until February 15th, and if the school chooses, it may continue to try to fill the seat after February 15th. Unless the school's enrollment policy or a term of its charter requires, the law does not require charter schools to fill vacant seats in the last half of the grades offered and in grades 10, 11, and 12. If a school has an odd number of grades, more than half of grades offered are included in grades for which the school must fill vacant seats. For more information on these requirements and others regarding charter school enrollment processes, see the Department's Technical Advisory 16-3.
Last Updated: May 31, 2019
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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