An Evaluation of Denver’s SchoolChoice Process, 2012-2014

Denver Public Schools’ (DPS) universal enrollment system provides families with access to all of the city’s public schools—both district-run and charter—through a single online or paper application. While students and their parents do not have to participate in the new process, many families in Denver—over a quarter—are using SchoolChoice to pick their children’s schools. But what are the implications of this broad participation? What do the SchoolChoice applications tell us about what families prioritize and how well Denver Public Schools is meeting their demands?

In this report, we extend the analyses in Mary Klute’s 2012 evaluation of the SchoolChoice process by examining three years of data on who is participating, what participating families want from their children’s schools, and which school matches they receive through the system. We found that across all segments of the city, families are demanding higher-rated schools, but such schools are unevenly distributed (even though the system’s overall performance is improving). In short, much work remains to adequately service Denver families’ demand for quality.

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