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A look at round 1 results of New Orleans' school match process in 4 graphics

 Students at Young Audiences Charter School at Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep on March 21, 2022.
Aubri Juhasz
/
WWNO
Students at Young Audiences Charter School at Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep on March 21, 2022.

Most families looking to enroll their children in New Orleans’ all-charter public school system got good news last month when the district announced the round one results of its school match process.

Out of roughly 9,600 applicants, 86% matched with a school and 82% matched with one of their top-three selections, according to the district.

In a statement, New Orleans Public Schools pointed to its match rates as evidence of its “commitment to equitable access for families to the schools of their choice.”

But ensuring every applicant is matched with their highest-ranked choice continues to be an issue of supply and demand.

Edward Hynes Charter School, an A-rated school in Lakeview, received the highest number of kindergarten applications for the 2022-23 school year, making it the district’s most in-demand elementary school for the second year in a row.

Out of 628 applications, just 19% of eligible applicants were admitted, according to the district.

Audubon Charter School Gentilly received the fifth-highest number of kindergarten applications but had the lowest eligible match rate at 16%.

At the high school level, Warren Easton Charter High School received the highest number of ninth grade applications at 2,059 and had an eligible match rate of 34%.

District superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. said in a statement that the district will continue to work toward providing options and “expanding access that ensures all our students receive a high-quality education.”

The city’s all-charter system is open-enrollment, which means it's up to each family to rank up to 12 schools they would like their child to attend and hope for a match.

This year, all of the city’s 76 public schools participated in a centralized process, previously known as the OneApp and rebranded this year as the Common Application Process, or NCAP.

Lusher Charter School, Ben Franklin High School and Lake Forest Charter School, all selective admission schools, participated for the first time this year, though applicants were still required to submit supplemental applications.

The more schools a family ranks, the higher the likelihood a match can be made during the first round when more seats are available, since the district’s algorithm only matches children with schools families have selected.

While the algorithm functions like a lottery, there are still multiple layers of priority.

Most schools give seats to siblings and children who live nearby first, and a few reserve spots for the children of partner university employees. Meanwhile, more equity-minded schools sometimes prioritize students who qualify as economically disadvantaged.

If a family doesn’t match with a school or is unhappy with its match, they can re-apply during the NCAP’s second round, which is currently open and closes May 13.

More than 9,600 applications were submitted during the NCAP’s early match process, which opened on Nov. 1, 2021 and closed on Jan. 21, 2022. Like past years, the bulk of applications, 5,797, were submitted for kindergarten and ninth grade.

Those kindergarten and ninth grade applicants were even more likely to match with a school somewhere on their list, according to the district. Nearly 95% matched, and 90% received one of the top-three choices.

Round one applications were up this year, after 9,200 applied for the 2021-22 school year.

Still they remain far below the number of applications received five years ago and are expected to plateau rather than rebound due to the city’s low birth rate.

The district acknowledged its diminished enrollment last year — a problem many urban school districts are facing — and has already begun downsizing.

Many families continue to find the district’s school enrollment process challenging, from usability issues to dissatisfaction with the selection process, according to the Cowen Institute’s annual parent survey.

A quarter of respondents offered a positive assessment of the OneApp, now NCAP, while another quarter offered a negative one, and nearly half of respondents said they were neutral.

When looking at the rationale behind families’ school selection, the survey found high-income households were more likely to base their choices on quality, while lower-income households were more likely to take location and transportation into consideration.

Heading into the district’s second round of enrollment, a number of sought-after schools no longer have open seats in certain grades.

For example, Lusher Charter School was able to admit 100% of eligible applicants during the first round, but it has very few remaining vacancies. Its kindergarten class is full, and most grades are waitlist only, according to the school’s website.

The district has provided a full list of schools with projected open seats by grade level.

Aubri Juhasz is the education reporter for New Orleans Public Radio. Before coming to New Orleans, she was a producer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She helped lead the show's technology and book coverage and reported her own feature stories, including the surge in cycling deaths in New York City and the decision by some states to offer competitive video gaming to high school students as an extracurricular activity.

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