Chart of the week: D.C.’s 2024 common lottery and equitable access update 

May 10, 2024
  • Chelsea Coffin
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My School DC has released the results of the common lottery for school year 2024-25, which matches students who newly enroll in pre-kindergarten, at a public charter school, or at a District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) school aside from their in-boundary option.[1] Total applications are up by 2 percent, similar to the 3 percent gain in applications last year. However, the overall level of applications at 23,312 is lower than 25,198 in the last year of pre-pandemic applications.

By key entry grade, PK3 (the grade with the most applications) is up 3 percent, after being flat last year. This is a good sign, but applications are still 766 lower than pre-pandemic levels. By ward of residence, PK3 applications in Wards 2, 4, 5 are at or above pre-pandemic levels. For middle school, Grade 6 is up 2 percent and at a similar level to pre-pandemic. For high school, Grade 9 is down 2 percent from last year, and higher than pre-pandemic.

Out of these 23,312 applications, 16,816 received a match on results day, or 72 percent.[2] About a third of these matches were through a preference, including equitable access (through both a preference and designated seats) at schools that opt into providing students who are “at-risk” a better chance at matching if they apply.[3] In the common lottery for school year 2024-25, 36 schools[4] offered equitable access through reserving designated seats (increase over 28 in previous years) and 16 offered equitable access through a preference similar to sibling preference (increase over 6 in the previous year) for a total of 52 schools. Over time, instead of just an expansion of schools offering equitable access within schools serving under 40 percent of students who are at-risk, the number of equitable access schools serving 60 percent or more students who are at-risk have also increased.

Out of the 16,816 matches for school year 2024-25, 622 (or 4 percent) matched through equitable access, including 416 through designated seats and 206 through a preference. Over time, the number of matches on results day has increased for equitable access designated seats, almost doubling since the first year these were offered. On the other hand, preference matches for equitable access have only increased by 9 percent since the first year, in part due to a change in the composition of schools offering the preference.

Among other recommendations, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME)’s 2023 Boundary and Student Assignment Study recommended that DCPS and public charter schools with less than the citywide average of at-risk students enrolled (currently 52%) should set aside existing lottery seats for students meeting the at-risk criteria.[5] This means that equitable access matches have the potential to increase in the coming years. See the table below for schools that offered equitable access in school year 2024-25.

Schools offering Equitable Access in school year 2024-25Matches on Results DayDesignated seats or preference
Amidon-Bowen Elementary School6Designated seats
Barnard Elementary School16Designated seats
BASIS DC10Designated seats
Burrville Elementary School4Designated seats
Capitol Hill Montessori21Designated seats
DC Bilingual PCS20Designated seats
DC Wildflower PCS – Blue Montessori4Designated seats
DC Wildflower PCS – The Riverseed School3Designated seats
Dorothy I. Height Elementary School10Designated seats
E.L. Haynes PCS – Elementary School5Designated seats
E.L. Haynes PCS – High School15Designated seats
E.L. Haynes PCS – Middle School12Designated seats
Excel Academy9Designated seats
H.D. Cooke Elementary School10Designated seats
Inspired Teaching Demonstration PCS20Designated seats
J.O. Wilson Elementary School5Designated seats
John Lewis Elementary School10Designated seats
Latin American Montessori Bilingual16Designated seats
Lee Montessori PCS – Brookland15Designated seats
Lee Montessori PCS – East End18Designated seats
MacArthur High School4Designated seats
Military Road Early Learning Center7Designated seats
Miner Elementary School9Designated seats
Mundo Verde Bilingual PCS – Calle Ocho Campus16Designated seats
Mundo Verde Bilingual PCS – J.F. Cook Campus36Designated seats
School-Within-School8Designated seats
Stevens Early Learning Center7Designated seats
Two Rivers PCS at 4th Street12Designated seats
Two Rivers PCS at Young Elementary School9Designated seats
Two Rivers PCS Middle School1Designated seats
Chisholm Elementary School3Designated seats
Van Ness Elementary School10Designated seats
Washington Latin PCS – Cooper Campus9Designated seats
Washington Latin PCS – Middle School20Designated seats
Washington Latin PCS – Upper School4Designated seats
Washington Yu Ying PCS32Designated seats
Breakthrough Montessori PCS23Preference
Brent Elementary School2Preference
Digital Pioneers Academy PCS – Capitol Hill41Preference
Digital Pioneers Academy PCS – Johenning45Preference
Garrison Elementary School5Preference
Hearst Elementary School2Preference
Hendley Elementary School4Preference
Ketcham Elementary School4Preference
King Elementary School0Preference
Mann Elementary School0Preference
Marie Reed Elementary School0Preference
Payne Elementary School4Preference
Savoy Elementary School4Preference
The Children’s Guild DC Public Charter School42Preference
The Sojourner Truth PCS30Preference
Turner Elementary School0Preference

[1] My School DC. 2024. Data. My School DC. Retrieved from

[2] This is a decrease from the match rate of 74 percent in 2023-24. For more information, see

[3] Applicants to D.C.’s common lottery are eligible for designated equitable access seats if they are experiencing homelessness, in the District’s foster care system, receiving TANF or SNAP benefits, or overage in in high school by one year or more.

[4] This count includes both language programs at Chisholm Elementary School as one school.

[5] Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME). 2024. 2023 Boundary and Student Assignment Study. DME. Retrieved from


Chelsea Coffin

Director of the Education Policy Initiative
D.C. Policy Center

Chelsea Coffin joined the D.C. Policy Center in September 2017 as the Director of the Education Policy Initiative. Her research focuses on how schools connect to broader dynamics in the District of Columbia. She has authored reports on diversity in D.C.’s schools, the D.C. schools with the best improvement for at-risk students, and the transition after high school in D.C. Chelsea has also conducted planning analysis at the D.C. Public Charter School Board, carried out research at the World Bank, and taught secondary school with the Peace Corps in Mozambique.

Chelsea holds a Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College and a Master of Arts from Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) in International Economics and Development.

You can reach Chelsea at