It’s LAUSD eChoices Application Time Again!

For parents who have students in LAUSD public schools, we are now in the period every year during which applications are being accepted online, through the eChoices system, for several kinds of specialty programs attractive to many district families.

In the past, schools using the eChoices application system included Magnet programs and Permit with Transportation (PWT) schools…but this year, the district has also added Dual Language Education (DLE) programs, Schools for Advanced Studies (SAS) and a new category called Admission Criteria Schools (ACS).

The eChoices application process itself is quite simple – you fill out a form with your student’s information, on the eChoices website, and select the school(s) to which you’d like to apply. But there are differences in qualifications for each kind of program and/or how applications are handled or prioritized after submission.  The deadline for all eChoices applications is November 9.  So here’s a quick rundown of this year’s eChoices school types, and important application considerations for each type of program.

Magnet Schools

What they are:  Magnets originated in the 1970s as desegregation programs, with federal funding to create attractive new programming (often theme-based) that would draw students from all over the city and create a more diverse, racially integrated learning environment.  Today, many individual Magnet schools – with concentrations on things like performing arts, STEM/STEAM (science/technology/engineering/math or science/technology/engineering/arts/math) classes, specialty career training (medical, law enforcement, etc.) or programs for gifted and high ability students – are among the most popular in the city.

Admissions Information:  Using the eChoices page for Magnet schools, you can locate individual schools by name or program type and read extensive information about each.  To apply to a magnet school, just fill out the application form and the name of the school you’re choosing.

Because many magnet programs are so popular, however, all applications are entered into a point-based lottery for admissions.  Students are awarded 4 points if the ethnic makeup of their home school is Predominantly Hispanic, Black, Asian or Other non-Anglo (PHBAO), 4 points for each year they have previously applied to a magnet program but did not get in (up to a maximum of 12 points, which can accumulate for up to three years), 4 points if their home school is overcrowded (though few are these days after LAUSD opened a bunch of new schools in the last 10 years), and 3 points if they have a sibling already attending the school.

Schools admit applicants with the most points first, and then move down the list, based on point totals.  For some under-enrolled schools, students with as few as four points can be easily admitted…while others, which may be more popular or widely known, receive hundreds more applications and may only admit students with 16 or more points in the first round of acceptances.  Those not selected on the first go-round are placed on a waiting list, and will be offered spaces as other applicants drop out of the admissions race or spaces open up for other reasons.

Note that the eChoices page for each specific school does contain information about the number of seats available at each magnet school, and how many applications were received last year, which helps you gauge the odds of being accepted.  Also, some schools – such as gifted, high ability, and highly gifted magnets, or performing arts magnets – have additional admissions criteria, which are also outlined on the eChoices page for each school.  Finally, do note that most, if not all, magnets offer tours for prospective parents and students during application season…so check each school’s page for that information and be sure to tour any school you might be interested in.

Finally, it’s also worth noting that you can apply to up to three magnet programs each year.  If you do not get into your first choice, you’ll be entered into the lottery for your second choice.  If you do not get into that school, you’ll be entered for your third choice…and if you don’t get into that school, you’ll be wait-listed at the first school only. (Note that this seems to be a change from previous years, in which applicants were wait listed at their second or third choice, depending on how many schools they applied to.  For confirmation of this new wait list policy, see the “Selection Process” section at http://echoices.lausd.net/Magnet/Information.aspx?lang=en )  Also note that if you are admitted to a magnet program (whether it’s your first, second or third choice), but decline the offer of enrollment, you will lose all your lottery preference points and have to start over for next year’s applications.  So there is a certain degree of strategy involved in planning which, or how many, schools to apply to…and it’s probably best to apply only to schools that you would actually be interested in attending if admitted.

Magnets in Our General Area:

Carthay School for Environmental Studies Magnet ES
Melrose Ave. Science Technology and Math Magnet ES
Rosewood Ave. Urban Planning and Urban Design Magnet ES
John Burroughs Gifted Magnet MS
Bancroft Gifted STEM Magnet MS
Bancroft Performing Arts Magnet MS
LeConte Center for Enriched Studies and Communications Arts Magnet MS
LeConte Health, Engineering, Applied Sciences and Technology Magnet MS
Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES)
Fairfax Police Academy HS
Fairfax Visual Arts Magnet HS
Hamilton Performing Arts Magnet HS
Hamilton Humanities Magnet HS
Hollywood New Media Magnet HS
Hollywood Performing Arts Magnet HS
LA High STEM Magnet

Schools for Advanced Studies (SAS) Programs

What they Are:  Unlike gifted and high-ability magnet programs, which draw qualified students from all over the district, Schools for Advanced Studies (SAS) programs are for gifted and high-ability students who live within a specific school’s normal attendance boundaries.  Students who would normally attend the school, and who qualify as gifted, high ability or highly gifted, are automatically placed in the school’s SAS program without any special applications.  If there are any additional seats available, however, after all of the qualified resident students have been admitted, those seats are made available to students from anywhere else in the district (or to students transferring in from other districts) through applications on the eChoices site.  (Note: this is the first year that SAS applications have been centralized through eChoices – previously, each individual school set its own deadlines, and managed its own application process.)

It’s also worth nothing that while some schools – like John Burroughs MS – host both gifted magnets and SAS programs, with similar (or sometimes identical) curriculum in both programs, they are funded and maintained separately within each school. This means that SAS students attend classes with other SAS students, and magnet students attend classes with other magnet students. Also, SAS classes are generally taught by teachers who also teach other classes for the school’s resident students, while magnet classes are taught by staff dedicated exclusively to the school’s magnet program (this is because SAS programs are funded by the local district, while magnets – as noted above – also receive federal funding for their staff and programs).

Finally, unlike magnet programs, which provide bus transportation for students who live more than five miles from the school, SAS programs do not provide bus transportation for any students.

Admissions Information:  Like other eChoices programs, all SAS applications are entered into a lottery for admissions.  Unlike with magnet programs, however, there is no point system for SAS applications.  Students who have siblings at a specific school are admitted first, but then all other qualified students are on equal footing.  If the program fills up, additional applicants are placed on a waiting list.  However, do note that SAS applicants must also meet the same general admissions criteria as applicants for Gifted, High Ability and Highly Gifted magnet programs.

SAS Programs in Our General Area:

3rd St. ES
John Burroughs MS
LeConte MS
Fairfax HS
Hamilton HS

Dual Language Programs

What they Are: Dual language programs aim to help children become both bilingual and biliterate, to better succeed in today’s global economy.  Currently, LAUSD offers 130 dual language programs in Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, French, Armenian, and Arabic, with new languages added each year.  There are also differences in how specific programs teach language proficiency, with Two-Way Immersion, One-Way Immersion and World Language options available.  Each program is located on a regular neighborhood school campus, and shares programs, experiences and other resources with the host school.  For a list of the available programs and schools, see the eChoices site.

Admissions Information:  As with SAS applications, there is no point system for admissions to DLPs, but the programs do have some proficiency requirements, depending on grade level.  Also, all of the programs aim to enroll 50% native English speakers, and 50% native speakers of the school’s target language.  If there are more applications than open seats at a given school, additional applicants will be placed on a waiting list.

Dual Language Programs in Our General Area:

Queen Anne Place ES (Spanish)
Wilshire Crest ES (Spanish)
Wilton Place ES (Spanish)
3rd St. ES (Korean)
John Burroughs MS (Korean)
Fairfax HS (Korean)

Admission Criteria Schools

What they are:  This is a new category in the eChoices school lineup this year, for schools that have special admissions criteria.  This year, they include the district’s two same-sex schools (the Girls Academic Leadership Academy and the Boys Academic Leadership Academy), and four Early College Admissions programs in which students take college-level classes at a specific local community college, while also finishing classes to fulfill high school graduation requirements.  Information about each of the specific schools and programs is available at the ACS link above.

Admissions Information:  Acceptance is by lottery, through the eChoices application, without a point system or sibling preference (except for twins, who are guaranteed admission with their sibling).  If the program fills up, additional applicants are placed on a waiting list.

ACS  Programs in Our General Area:

Girls Academic Leadership Academy
Early College Academy at Los Angeles Trade Tech College

Permit with Transportation Schools

What they are:  In short, the PWT program – also designed to help desegregate district schools – allows Hispanic, Black, Asian and Other non-Anglo students at PHBAO schools to transfer (with bus transportation provided) to more integrated schools…while Other White (OW) students can opt to attend PHBAO schools, with bus transportation provided.

Admissions Information:  Since eligibility for the PWT program is based on the ethnic makeup of a student’s home school, check the list of PWT schools to see if your school, or the school to which you’d like to apply, is eligible for this program.  If so, and if you’d like to apply, fill out the application form on the eChoices site.

PWT Schools in Our General Area:  None

And One Last Thing…

Finally, a word about waiting lists:  because families often apply to more than one school each year (whether regular LAUSD schools, magnet programs, or charter, independent and/or religious schools), waiting lists for all LAUSD schools are accessed almost immediately after the initial acceptance letters go out in the spring.  This is because many initial acceptees often decline enrollment, either immediately or later, for a wide variety of reasons.  And the wait-list churning process generally continues through the spring and summer, and often even into the first few weeks of the next school year. So if you wind up on a wait list at any school, don’t despair.  Many schools, even magnets, actually get to everyone on their lists at some point in the process…and – for magnets only – if you still don’t get in after all is said and done, there is a consolation prize: an additional four preference points for next year’s magnet applications.

So enjoy exploring your LAUSD school choices!

[This story was updated after publication to include information about multiple-school magnet applications, wait list and non-acceptance information for magnet programs, and the difference between SAS programs and gifted magnets.]

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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