Nov 2, 2010

LAUSD Choices Booklet Comes Out This Month

I am having a seriously hard time accepting that it's the beginning of November. I feel like school just started and that summer just ended, but I see Christmas decorations and Black Friday deals everywhere already.

And, we got notice that the Los Angeles Unified School District's Choices Brochure should be coming home next week. The Choices brochure contains an application and is the only way to apply for admission to a magnet school. I don't know if other school districts offer similar choices or mechanisms, but I do know LAUSD's magnet admissions process is rather confusing.

At least the application itself is actually pretty straightforward. If your child is already enrolled in an LAUSD school, you should receive a pre-filled application next week. If you don't get one, or your child isn't in an LAUSD school, you can get a blank application at all LAUSD schools, LAUSD Local District Offices, Los Angeles City Libraries, and the Student Integration Services office downtown. Fill out the form and send it in.

Everything else about the magnet admissions process is complicated, at least in my opinion. There are points to worry about, and I've written more about the points process here. The one thing really worth pointing out here is that if you have a child who will be entering kindergarten next fall and you think you might want to apply for a magnet school for first grade, you should apply for one of the few kindergarten magnets and hope to be rejected so you can get points for when you apply in 2011.

Similarly, if you hope to get your child into a magnet later on, you should apply to a highly desirable magnet to build up points before your child is actually eligible to enroll. For example, there are a couple of schools that are Centers for Enriched Studies that start in either fourth or sixth grade and go through twelfth grade. To apply with the maximum number of points, you want to have failed to get into your desired magnet school for the previous three years (you can have a max of 12 wait list points and get 4 points each year you're rejected). The Choices booklet should indicate the number of applications and the number of students admitted to each school last year, which will give you a good idea of which schools are the hardest to get into.

Like I said, it's all terribly confusing, especially when you factor in sibling points, ethnicity, and school status. I found the Choices Information Fair in 2008 very helpful, but they didn't hold one last year probably because of budget cuts, and it doesn't look like they're doing one this year either. However, the Choices web site is useful and includes links to other helpful resources. It's down for maintenance right now, but does have a list of important dates, and should be back up soon.

And don't forget, the Choices application must be postmarked by Friday, December 17.

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