School Choice Enrollment Process

  • NHPS School Choice


    To learn more about the New Haven Public School Choice Program please visit

    New Haven Public Schools is committed to ensuring all students are engaged in their learning. The School Choice Program supports students' educational success by offering a diverse set of schools with unique themes and programming designed to engage students' interest. The program is open to students in grades PK3 - 12.

    Through an application process, families have the opportunity to select schools that match their child’s academic interests. Annually this application is available to students entering grades PK3 – 12. The application is available in both English and Spanish, is available online and typically opens in February.


    What information is used to place students at schools?

    All information used for the school choice process is taken from the completed application. This includes the residential address, selected schools of interest, the name and grade of any sibling currently attending a school the student is applying to and the applying grade level.

    The Office of Choice & Enrollment uses the preferred list of schools submitted by each applicant, the number of seats offered at each school by grade in the upcoming school year and each school’s priority structures (e.g. sibling preference and neighborhood preference) to determine placement. In the common case that there are more applicants than seats, applicants are placed by their priority. Ties between applicants with the same priority are settled using an assigned lottery number.


    Why didn’t my child get placed at a School of Choice?

    There could be several reasons a child is not placed at their preferred school. Most commonly, there are no available seats in the school and grade combination your child is applying to. For example, a student applying to one of our K-8 interdistrict magnets for Grade 4 may be considerably less likely to be placed there because there may be no open Grade 4 seats, since the majority of these seats will be occupied by rising 3rd graders.

    Student placements are made using a computer-based algorithm. This algorithm takes into consideration the applicant’s preferred schools and their verified preferences. In a nutshell, this is what happens:


    Process Steps:

    1. All applicants are temporarily assigned to their most preferred school.
    2. Next at each school, the temporary applicants are sorted by their priorities at that specific school. Priority ties are settled using a lottery number.
    3. At each school, seats are now filled in the above order until no more seats are available.
    4. Students who do not receive a seat in Step III will now be considered for their next preferred school. The process continues until 1) all applicants are placed or 2) all non-assigned applicants were considered at all their preferred schools.


    The Choice & Enrollment Office determines the number of available seats at each school by grade in collaboration with each school’s administration. Available seats for the next school year take into consideration mandated class size maximums and the number of student retentions at each school.


    What is Sibling Preference?

    Sibling preference is taken into consideration for applying students who already have a sibling attending a school they are applying to for the next school year. Sibling preference simply improves an applicant’s chances of being placed at a school of their choice and is NOT a guarantee. Sibling preference is defined as an applicant who has a sibling in the school and shares the same address and at least one legal parent or guardian as documented in PowerSchool. Sibling preference is always denied for all applicants not meeting the above definition.


    If my child was not placed at their preferred school, where will they go?

    It is the responsibility of the New Haven Public Schools to provide a free education to all children residing in the City of New Haven in grades K-12. If a student who is currently enrolled in a New Haven Public School has applied via the school choice process and is not placed at one of their preferred schools, they will remain enrolled at their current school provided the school serves their grade level for the next school year.

    Entering Kindergarten students who are New Haven residents and are not placed at a school of their choice will be assigned to a school with appropriate availability.

    Grade 8 students currently enrolled in a New Haven Public School who are not placed at a school of their choice or did not apply via the school choice application process, will be enrolled at their neighborhood zoned high school. These schools include James Hillhouse High and Wilbur Cross and placement is determined by the child’s residential address.

    Students who are not residents of New Haven and have applied via the school choice process but were not placed in a preferred school must enroll in their home district.


    When is my child now on a waitlist?

    Students will only be placed on a waitlist if the Choice & Enrollment Office is unable to place them into ANY of their listed schools of choice. In such cases our office will work collaboratively with school administrators and parents to exhaust school placement waitlists when a seat may become available prior to October 1st. Waitlists will not be considered after this time.

    To learn more about the New Haven Public School Choice Program please visit our