April Newsletter

April 9, 2019

OneApp 101

The annual, highly anticipated OneApp results will be released later this month.  Although OneApp has existed for 8 years, this is the very first time that I, as Superintendent, will be responsible for their release. With so much riding on our schools and parents investing so much on placement results, this is at the forefront of my mind.  As a newly formed school system with a lot of firsts and new territory, releasing OneApp results presents a great challenge and a great opportunity. We are prepared to meet that challenge, seize that opportunity, and hope to prepare the community at large for the release of OneApp results.

There are some important things that our community needs to know about OneApp before results are released:

  • The OneApp, short for “one application,” is our centralized school enrollment application.  Families who are new to New Orleans, enrolling in public schools for the first time, or applying to transfer schools may submit a OneApp to apply to attend any participating school. Families rank their school choices, and are then matched to an open seat at one of those schools, through a weighted lottery process. OneApp originated as a tool to fairly coordinate enrollment across Recovery School District, state authorized, publicly-funded early childhood, and OPSB schools.  When schools returned to local control in July 2018, the Orleans Parish School Board absorbed OneApp.

 

  • A centralized enrollment system, like OneApp, is central to our quest for equity.  It precludes subjective review of student applications.  A student’s academic history, behavioral record, and special needs are not factors for admission.  It also levels the playing field for families from different economic classes or social circles, by eliminating back-door admissions and creating a convenient, one-time application process.

 

  • Demand for seats is very high, but ultra-concentrated.  There are 79 OPSB schools, but most applications list the same 5-10 schools.  It is my most urgent priority to increase capacity at A and B schools, but I worry that parents overlook schools who are doing amazing things for children.  We must increase awareness of schools with “A” rated growth, schools with specialized programming, and schools with high teacher and student retention.

 

  • Until the majority of our schools are delivering a high-quality education, OneApp results will be a mixed bag.  Many families will be elated with their placements, but many families will be disappointed.  OneApp cannot guarantee that all families will receive their top choice, but OneApp does guarantee that, in a landscape of citywide access and choice, every single family is considered fairly, in an equitable, transparent enrollment process.

 

  • Most schools have 1-2 priority areas for student placements.  Priorities are set during the very creation of a school or when that school joined OneApp and are tied to the purpose of that school.  For example, a Sibling Priority means that school prioritizes having family units together and a Geographic Priority means that school prioritizes the families in the physical community it serves.

As I highlighted in my January Aspirations for 2019, OneApp’s effectiveness is one of my biggest focuses.  In service to that aspiration, the Board Members, my team and I have made several critical moves to improve families’ experience with OneApp including ensuring that the latest school letter grades, and renewal decisions were updated before OneApp opened, enacting a system-wide Geographic Priority for families within walking distance of a school, and improving the application’s technology to show families which schools they receive geographic priority, in real-time.

These changes go a long way to providing real access to schools, but yet, we have a long way to go.  That “long way to go” is what drives me to work for students every day.  It wakes me up in the morning and fuels my every decision.  As we await OneApp results, remember that the challenge and opportunity also awaits and we are prepared.

 

 

– Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools for Orleans Parish

For more information on common enrollment systems:
https://wamu.org/story/19/03/28/after-five-years-is-d-c-s-school-lottery-working-for-families/
https://www.npr.org/2019/03/27/705477877/what-if-elite-colleges-switched-to-a-lottery-foradmissions 

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