When to Make Choices and Register
To increase the chances of receiving an assignment to a school of choice, students should apply in the first registration period for their grade. Once families are familiar with their school choices, they should prepare the documents that are required for school registration and bring them to a BPS Welcome Center during the registration period for their grade.
New-to-BPS applicants for Kindergarten and any students enrolling in Grade 6 or Grade 9 should register in the first registration period in January. All other new-to-BPS applicants should register in the second registration period in February. School assignments are made using our lottery system after each registration period ends, so it doesn't matter when you register within a particular period -- it's not first-come first-served and everyone has the same opportunities as long as they register within the correct period. The full schedule is below.
BPS students completing the highest grade at their current school will receive their selection form from school. In many cases, these students are guaranteed a seat at their next pathway school and no action is required. Exam School applicants follow a different process and timeline. Please see the Exam Schools page for more information.
Under the Home-Based school choice plan, each school applicant receives his or her own personal application. The application form lists all the schools you may choose – the “customized list.”
- Choose as many schools as you wish—but we encourage you to make at least FIVE choices.
- Number your choices in order of your preference.
- Save your copy of the application in case there’s a problem.
Save time at registration with BPS Express
Families can electronically send information to the BPS Welcome Centers before their visit using BPSExpress online. With BPSExpress:
- Families can complete application form(s) and make school choices on-line in advance
- Filling out forms electronically reduces errors and saves time
- BPSExpress users access a separate line at the Welcome Center during peak registration times
- BPSExpress is only pre-registration and does not increase your chances of receiving a particular school choice. Families still need to visit a Welcome Center with their required documents in order to complete registration. At the end of online pre-registration, BPSExpress provides a printable summary with a receipt number. Please bring this summary with you to the Welcome Center.
To increase the chances of receiving an assignment to a school of choice, students should apply in the first registration period for their grade. This schedule is for new registrations and transfer requests for the 2014-2015 school year, which begins in September, 2014.
First registration period:
January 6-31, 2014
Kindergarten, Grade 6 and Grade 9
To avoid long lines, we recommend the following schedule, based on the first initial of the parent’s last name:
A–I: Register January 6-10
J–Q: Register January 13-17
R–Z: Register January 21-24
All: Register January 27-31
Second registration period:
February 5 - April 4, 2014
Kindergarten through Grade 12
The second registration period has been extended to April 4.
Third registration period:
April 7 - May 9, 2014
Kindergarten through Grade 12
Fourth registration period:
May 12–June 13, 2014
Kindergarten through Grade 12
BPS will run the school choice lottery after the completion of each registration period and will send school assignments by mail. These assignments are usually mailed about six weeks after the close of the period.
All students who receive a new school assignment will also receive an RSVP form to let us know if you will attend the Boston Public Schools in September. Please sign and return the form so we can assign another student from the wait list if you are not attending. You can also use the RSVP form to tell us if you want to stay on wait lists for other schools.
School registration continues after the Rounds close; however, starting in late July, assignments are made only to schools that still have available seats. Therefore, it is advised that families visit a Welcome Center in the earliest round possible for their grade level.
For a better chance of getting one of your top school choices…
- Apply within your first registration period—January 6-31, 2014 for the transition grades (kindergarten, grade 6, and grade 9), and February 5–March 28, 2014 for all other grades. All applications received within a registration period are processed at the same time, not in the order received. It doesn’t matter if you apply on the first day or the last day of the registration period.
- You may go to a Welcome Center any time during the year to register for school or to request a transfer—but the longer you wait, the fewer choices you will have. Many schools are full after the first registration period.
- Make at least FIVE choices. (More is better!)
- List your school choices in your true order of preference. If you list a popular school first, you won’t hurt your chances of getting your second choice school if you don’t get your first choice.
- Choose a variety of schools—including schools for which you have sibling priority and schools that are easier to get into. For information about less frequently chosen schools that may be a good “fit” for your child, ask Welcome Center staff or check Countdown to Kindergarten
For more information
These documents and resources may help families with the school choice process:
- Countdown to Kindergarten Information Sheets - Detailed information for K0-K2 families
- Introducing the Boston Public Schools 2013 - A comprehensive guide to all our schools
- Next Stop: Middle School - A guide to all BPS middle schools.
- Next Stop: High School - A guide to all BPS high schools
- "Ready, Set, Go" - School Choice step-by-step - A chronological checklist for registration.
- School demand reports (excel spreadsheet) for 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15. Note: Given the move to the Home Based system of student assignment, please note that it is no longer possible to conduct an apples-to-apples comparison between schools based on their demand data, since each school has its own unique catchment area from which it draws students. In addition, it is important to remember that some schools may be able to accommodate additional students even if they are listed as having 0 seats available before the round. This is particularly true for rising 6th grade students. Many schools, including most of the traditional middle schools, appear to have 0 seats available for rising 6th graders. This is due to the middle school pathway policy. Under this model, the seats at each middle school are slated to be filled by students from the feeder elementary schools, so these seats are not listed as open seats. However, students from feeder elementary schools may choose not to participate in their middle school pathway, in which case the seats designated for those students would be available for others. Therefore, the demand report by itself cannot capture the many shifts in enrollment that take place because of choices made during the round.