How Does Demand for Public Charter Schools Compare to Where Students Live and Go to School?

Public charter school students tend to travel farthest to the schools in the highest demand, which are located in Wards 4, 5, and 6. However, schools in the highest demand (measured by the longest waitlists) usually offer popular programs, including eight dual language/language immersion or seven expeditionary learning programs. Almost all schools that offer these popular programs are located in Wards 4, 5, and 6. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that greater availability of these high demand programs throughout the city would decrease travel time for some students.

How far do students travel to attend public charter schools throughout the city?

Students travel the farthest to attend public charter schools in Wards 2, 4, 5, and 6. However, Ward 2 is an outlier because it only has two public charter schools, one of which serves adult learners who travel the farthest (4.3 miles) to attend school out of any public charter school. Students attending public charter schools in Wards 7 and 8 are more likely to live closer to school with the shortest travel distances.

Note: Likelihood of matching in the lottery is calculated by dividing the number of students who are matched to schools in a certain ward by the total number of students who apply to schools in the same ward and have their applications processed.

How does distance traveled compare to demand for seats?

In general, students travel farther to public charter schools that are in wards where schools are in higher demand as evidenced by data analyzed from My School DC, the common lottery. In the graph below, students travel the farthest to reach schools in Wards 4 and 5, where students are least likely to match to a public charter school through the lottery. By comparison, students travel the shortest distance to schools in Ward 8, where it is more likely that students will match to a school.

Note: Likelihood of matching in the lottery is calculated by dividing the number of students who are matched to schools in a certain ward by the total number of students who apply to schools in the same ward and have their applications processed.

Where are schools that are in the highest demand located?

The ten schools with the longest waitlists (highlighted with darkest red dots in the map below) are all located in Wards 4, 5, and 6. These wards are the same wards where students travel farther than the average distance to attend school and where it is generally more difficult to match to a public charter school. 

 

The public charter schools in the highest demand as measured by waitlists also tend to offer dual language/language immersion or expeditionary learning. These program offerings are more likely to influence decisions to apply to these schools than location, as many schools in Wards 4, 5, and 6 have low waitlists.

Currently, the District of Columbia International School is the only school outside Wards 4, 5, and 6 that offers either of these highly-demanded programs, and next year it will relocate to Ward 4. DC PCSB did not receive any schools that offered these programs during the spring 2017 application cycle, but the Board will vote on the expansion of two dual language/language immersion program in June that would make more spaces available to families.

For more information about distance traveled to schools and maps of where students live and go to school, check out the Choosing Quality, May 2017 report.

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