Planning for EdFEST and the DC School Lottery


Do the words “school lottery” send you into a panic? No? Just me?

I am SO grateful for the amazing universal early childhood education in DC. However, the lottery system can seem quite overwhelming. 

As a mom of a 2-year-old (and rising PreK3 student) our family will be participating in the common lottery for the first time. Thankfully, My School DC has incredible resources to help us prepare for EdFEST 2019 and to make the best – and most informed – lottery decisions for our family (and YOURS)!

2020-21 Lottery Dates

First thing’s first, the important dates…

    • EdFEST is on December 14, 2019
    • My School DC Lottery opens on December 16, 2019. 
    • The Application Deadline for Grades 9-12 is February 3, 2020
    • The Application Deadline for PreK3 –  Grade 8 is March 2, 2020. 
    • Lottery Results are released on March 27, 2020.
    • The Enrollment Deadline is May 1, 2020.

It’s important to remember that the lottery is RANDOM so if you submit your lottery picks on December 16 OR March 2, it doesn’t matter…just be sure you submit by the deadline!

Lottery 101

Did you know there are videos that walk you through how the lottery process works? My School DC has a basic overview as well as a deep dive into how the lottery algorithm works. 

A newbie like me? My School DC has an entire page dedicated to PreK applicants.  

My School DC also has quite possibly the most comprehensive FAQ lists I have ever seen. Not seeing your question/answer on their list of FAQs? Not to worry! My School DC also has an amazingly responsive staff. Shoot them an email at [email protected].  

School Research

My School DC offers a wide array of information on all public (DCPS and Charter) schools to help you find the best fit(s) for your family.

Visit the School Finder to confirm your In-Boundary School(s) – the schools to which you have a right to directly enroll for grades K-12 based on your DC address – and Filter Findings based on your family’s school priorities (proximity, ward, star ratings, school offerings, etc…) Once you click on a specific school you can find even MORE information, including information re: Lottery Preferences, School Report Card, Historic Waitlist Data, open house schedules, and more!

In Mid-to-Late November will be refreshed with School Year 2020-21 lottery information. That will include updated Star Ratings and School Report Cards.

Interested in an even deeper dive? My School DC has an entire page dedicated to data where you can find information about everything from waitlist data, research, and more!

School Visits

Data is wonderful but nothing beats experiencing prospective schools first-hand!

Open Houses: Find information about School Open Houses on individual school pages AND in the MySchoolDC Calendar of Events.

EdFEST: Can’t make it to 235 individual open houses? You’re in luck! EdFEST is My School DC’s Citywide Public School Fair on December 14, 2019 at the DC Armory.

Make the most of EdFEST by taking some time BEFORE December 14th to consider your family’s school priorities, research prospective schools, and decide what schools you’d like to visit with, including your DCPS in-boundary schools.

Here are some great questions to ask schools at EdFEST and/or at individual School Open Houses!

Seasoned Lottery Parent or Caretaker: What tips/tricks do you have for making the most of EdFEST and preparing for the lottery?

New Lottery Parent or Caretaker: What other questions do you have as lottery season approaches? 

As a new lottery parent and new Ward 1 rep on the My School DC Parent Advisory Council, I want to help ensure that ALL DC parents and caretakers feel informed, empowered, and prepared for the common lottery. 

I hope to see many of you at EdFEST on December 14th. 

Want to stay in the know? Sign up for MySchoolDC Alerts!

Don’t miss these other great DC Moms Blog Posts about why we shouldn’t panic with the lottery and what working parents need to know about the lottery.

About the guest author: 

Chelsey Christensen is originally from Decorah, IA and has lived in Washington, DC for more than 11 years. She resides in Columbia Heights with her husband John, their 2-year-old son, and fur-baby. She works full time as Director of Development at Imagination Stage. Chelsey is a consecrated Deaconess through the Lutheran Diaconal Association and an active member of Luther Place Memorial Church in downtown DC. She serves on the My School DC Parents Advisory Council as a Ward 1 representative. She is passionate about the arts, education, and equity. On weekends you can find her exploring neighborhood parks and playgrounds with coffee in-hand. GO NATS!


  1. Great post and very informative. Keep watching this space for lottery info.

    I’ve recently heard one useful tidbit- leave the small ones at home for Edfest since it is supposedly a mad house.

    • Ooo…that’s good to know! I do know they’re making sure the aisles are wider to allow for strollers/the itty bitties. I was planning to bring my LO and husband and just send them to the Stadium Armory playground if/when needed (weather permitting).
      Can’t wait to see the other great posts from DC Area Moms Blog this lottery season. See you at EdFEST?

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