This page covers:
- Tips on getting the basic Lottery/Choice scoop for public school options in Portland, and getting your questions answered
- How to find out what slots will be available at any particular school
- How to find out what your Focus Option programs will be for PPS
- A note about immersion programs
- How to find out what charter school options exist in Portland
Getting your head around the Portland public lottery system is no small feat. (See Lottery Basics.) Perhaps the most challenging thing to determine is which schools are are open to lottery, and how many spots are available. And because the number of open slots at each school fluctuates from year to year, so do your options. The links below should point you in the right direction to find the most up to date information:
Transfer Options in General
Almost every PPS school is technically available to “apply” (via lottery) for a transfer – this includes neighborhood schools. However some neighborhood schools, especially the popular ones, are sufficiently packed that each year zero spots exist. Usually by January PPS will post a web page which shows how many spots, and at what grade level, exist for transfer.
- The School Choice Transfer Cycle page should be current by the time you start looking in earnest at your options. And it should lead you to any crucial information needed to enter the School Choice Lottery.
- The School Choice Availability Data page will tell you what slots were available in recent years at any school (including the Focus Options, but not the Charter schools). Open any year’s stats to see the opening:applicant ratio. And keep in mind that some of these slots have gone to and will go to sibling or other type of preference, which effectively reduces the odds for regular transfers.
Focus Options in Particular
You’ll have to click around the PPS website to find a complete list of Focus Option programs with a full description of each. Below, we’ve culled what we think are the most helpful starting pages:
- The Kindergarten Programs PDF list (this link from 2012-13) gives a reasonably accurate idea of what is available at the elementary level. While the Focus Option schools are not obvious by name, most will have an X/X in the right column (which indicates a mandatory meeting and obligatory Statement of Understanding).
- Focus Schools & Programs is another PDF published last year by PPS, which covers all age levels, that perhaps spells out your options a little more clearly.
Once you determine which options might be of interest, go back to the School Index page to check out the schools’ websites and/or PPS pages to gather more detailed info about the program.
A Note about Immersion Options
Since a large portion of PPS Focus Options are Language Immersion programs, a special Immersion FAQ exists.
UPDATE: PPS has a new policy of assigning a Spanish immersion school to a particular neighborhood quadrant. For example, if you live in NE, you won't be able lottery into the Ainsworth Spanish Immersion, as it is reserved for neighborhood kids and kids in the Wilson/Lincoln feeder district. To find out what your Spanish Immersion options are, consult this PPS Flyer.
And it bears repeating that Kindergarten is THE entry year for an immersion program UNLESS your child can pass a proficiency test in the target language and there is a slot available at his or her grade level.
Still have questions on the transfer or lottery process within PPS?
- Their School Choice FAQ (pdf) might answer them…
- As their website suggests "... call 503-916-3205 or email" (email@example.com)
While PPS does have a Charter School page on their site, oddly enough it doesn’t include all the Charter schools available to you. It only includes the charters sponsored by the district, but omits the charters sponsored by the State of Oregon. Hopefully the suggestions below will help you sort out your Charter School Options:
- The PPS Public Charter Schools Page leads to a “Charter School List” on the left hand column, which covers all grade levels.
- Northwest Center for Educational Options lists every charter school in the state, though unfortunately it’s not sort-able by city. The two options available in Portland that aren’t listed on the PPS website are these 2 charters sponsored by the Oregon State Board of Education: Ivy School and Southwest Charter School.
Since Charter Schools aren’t listed clearly in any one place, and we don’t have faith that we can expect either of these lists to always be current, we suggest doing a simple Google search of “charter schools Portland” which might be all encompassing…
Note: What does a school search look like? It might start out like this, even a year before kindergarten. You can follow one west side family's search here; as well as this example from an east side family.