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High School Choice (9th grade) Lottery Process

Procedure for the assignment of incoming 9th grade students at Portland Public Schools (PPS) high schools - Casco Bay High School (CBHS), Deering High School (DHS), and Portland High School (PHS).

The purpose of this process is to ensure that the high schools have a balanced enrollment so that they can each continue to offer comprehensive programming and that the demographic composition of the schools more closely resembles the district’s overall enrollment. This procedure is designed to ensure that as many students as possible receive their first choice. Students who do not receive their first choice school are reassigned to achieve balance in the number of students enrolled and the diversity factors at each school.

Definition of student(s) with diversity factor(s) - A student with diversity factors is one who has one or more of the following designations or qualifications:

  • has an IEP,
  • is designated a multilingual learner,
  • is designated McKinney Vento,
  • and/or qualifies as economically disadvantaged.

If a student has none of those designations or qualifications, they are considered a student with no diversity factors.1

  1. All students who have completed the choice process are entered into the lottery, including students from outside the district.
  2. Students who have applied to CBHS as their first choice are selected based on the CBHS selection criteria that considers sibling preference and diversity factors such that their enrollment of students with diversity factors is, at a minimum, the district average.
  3. Students who are not selected in the CBHS lottery are added to the CBHS waitlist and moved into the second phase of the high school lottery 1 Over the past five years ~80% of our students who have one or more diversity factors identify as BIPOC students.
  4. All remaining students, those who applied to CBHS but were not granted admission and students who listed DHS and PHS as their first choice, are entered into the second phase of the high school lottery.
  5. In the second phase, all students are assigned to their first choice school. For CBHS waitlist students, we assume that their second choice is their first choice as we are blind to the fact they applied to CBHS. If the number of students assigned to PHS and DHS 9th grade classes differs by more than an annually determined number we then rebalance the class sizes by conducting the lottery and changing assignments as needed to balance the enrollments
  6. Rebalancing occurs so that the class sizes between DHS and PHS differ by no more than an annually determined number of students and in order to make the schools balanced in the percentage of students who have diversity factors.
  7. The goal is for at least 90% of students to receive their first choice, if their first choice was DHS or PHS. For CBHS there is no guarantee that they will receive their first or second choice but it is highly likely that they will receive their second choice 90% of the time.
  8. The process of rebalancing will assign students from the larger 9th grade class (between DHS and PHS) to the smaller one. We determine who will be moved, i.e. not receive their first choice, by randomly selecting them from the pool of students with no diversity factors at the school with the larger 9th grade class
  9. Additionally, students who express no preference in their school selection form or students who have a sibling currently attending a specific school and have indicated their desire to attend that same school will not be included in the reassignment pool regardless of diversity factors.
  10. Once students are assigned to a high school, that is where they are expected to enroll for at least one full school year. There will be an appeal process and transfers may be allowed in their 9th grade year but will be reviewed and approved centrally. That process will follow the rules used for out of neighborhood transfers currently administered by the superintendent’s office.

Undecided and Transfer Students

  1. Students who were enrolled in 8th grade in a PPS middle school but did not complete the choice process will be assigned to DHS or PHS based on the class sizes and number of students with diversity factors thereby lowering the number of decided students who are not able to get their first choice.
  2. Students who transfer to PPS from outside the district during the school year will be assigned centrally to DHS or PHS in order to further balance the number of students at each school and the number of students with diversity factors.

Caveats and Adjustments:

  1. When students move off the waitlist at CBHS that may further impact the balance of students at DHS and PHS. The second choice of those students may or may not be balanced between the other two high schools. If they are not balanced, the gap between class sizes may grow. This will be solved through the assignment of incoming students over the course of the year.
  2. It could be the case that the school with the larger incoming 9th grade class also has more students with diversity factors. In that case, moving students with no diversity factors to the school with the smaller class would further increase the gap in the percentage of students with diversity factors. If this were to occur, students with diversity factors would be the ones moved through the lottery

1 Over the past five years ~80% of our students who have one or more diversity factors identify as BIPOC students.