How to Register for Boston Public Schools (BPS)

 

Boston Public Schools (BPS) is the free public school district for the city of Boston. Approximately 73 percent of Boston’s school-aged children are enrolled at a BPS school. There are more than 125 BPS schools in Boston. BPS schools serve students in grades K0 to K2 (ages 3 to 5 years old) through 12th grade and beyond.

List of Public Schools in Boston

BPS Registration Timeline & Checklist

Registration for BPS schools starts very early. The priority registration period is January through March in the same year that your child will enter school. For example, if your child will enter grade K2 in September 2020, you must register your child for school in January 2020.

Boston School Finder strongly encourages registering during priority round registration for the grade your child will enter, because this gives you the best chance to get a seat in a BPS school you want.

If you are considering enrolling your child in a BPS school, Here are the steps to apply for Boston Public Schools for the 2020-2021 school year and when you need to complete these steps.
 

November 2019

  • Understand how BPS assigns students to its schools. Your child is not guaranteed a “neighborhood” school. BPS uses a Home-Based Assignment Policy (HBAP) that factors distance from the school, school quality, and sibling preference into the school options available to your child. 

  • Get your list of your available BPS school options from DiscoverBPS.org

  • Learn more about each school on your list by using our Boston School Finder Tool to view detailed School Profile pages for each BPS school on your list.

  • Visit schools during their BPS School Preview Days in November, December, and January.
     

December 2019

  • Pre-register for Boston’s online school registration system. This will make registration easier at your Welcome Center appointment if you complete this ahead of time. 

  • Make an appointment at a BPS Welcome Center so you don’t have to wait in line during peak registration times.

  • BPS requires families to provide proof of identity*, Boston residency*, and immunization records to register their children for school. Parents/guardians must bring EACH of the following documents to their BPS Welcome Center appointment:

    1. Parent/guardian picture ID
    2. Your child's original birth certificate (or, if necessary, passport or I-94)
    3. Your child's most up-to-date immunization record (Here is a list of immunizations required by the state to register for school.)
    4. Two (2) proofs of Boston residency
    5. If a medical accommodation is required or your child has a disability, documentation must also be provided.

      *Boston Public Schools is proud to offer education to all students regardless of their immigration status. Boston has over 3,000 homeless students and is required by law to provide school assignment and transportation to such students regardless of where they are temporarily residing. Your BPS school choice list will not be based on address. Some documentation rules will be relaxed. Call BPS at 617-635-9000 to find out how to register and enroll your child if you or your child do not have a permanent address and/or are undocumented.
       

January 2020

  • Priority registration for students entering grades K0, K1, 6, 7, and 9 begins on January 6, 2020 and closes January 31, 2020.

  • Visit a BPS Welcome Center to complete your registration paperwork and residency verification in person during this time.
     

February 2020

  • Priority registration for students entering all other grades begins on February 10, 2020 and closes April 3, 2020.

  • Visit a BPS Welcome Center to complete your registration paperwork and residency verification in person during this time.
     

March—May 2020

  • School assignments are mailed to the home address you used to register your child for school.

  • Note: if you have moved after registering, your change of address could affect your school and transportation options. Please visit the BPS website for more information about change of address.
     

Types of BPS Schools & Programs

With more than 20 grade configurations, there are many different types of schools that serve a variety of student needs across Boston’s more than 125 public schools. Below is information about some of the different types of schools and programs available in BPS.
 

For Elementary & Middle School Students

K0 & K1 Grade Levels

BPS offers a small, but growing number of school seats for children ages 3 and 4, according to the formula below: 

If your child will be age _____ by September 1 of the year they are supposed to start school, they are eligible to enter into grade ____.

  • Age 3 = Grade K0

  • Age 4 = Grade K1

  • Age 5 = Grade K2
     

Advanced Work Class (AWC) & Excellence For All (EFA)

Advanced Work Class (AWC) and Excellence for All (EFA) are two program options available at select BPS schools for students in grades 4-6. Click here to learn more about participating AWC programs and EFA schools from BPS.

  • Advanced Work Class (AWC) is a full-time program in the Boston Public Schools that provides an accelerated academic curriculum for students in grades 4-6. This program includes subjects studied in greater depth, more schoolwork, and more home study than the traditional curriculum. Students are invited to participate based on their Terra Nova test scores, given in the fall of grades 3, 4, and 5.
  • Excellence For All (EFA) is an initiative designed to ensure all learners in grades 4- 6 have access to high quality, authentic learning experiences that prepare them for high school, college, and careers. EFA is a school-wide program. All students in grades 4-6 at a school that offers EFA participate in the program. There is no admission requirement for Excellence For All. 
     

Middle School Pathways

For students in general education programs, every BPS elementary school is connected to a middle school or K-8 school. This is called a “pathway” school. Students in 5th grade who attend schools connected to a Pathway school will receive a letter in the mail in January that lists their Pathway school for the following (6th grade) year. 

Families are welcome to accept and enroll their child at their assigned Pathway school. Families may also decline and choose another school that meets their needs. If you want your child to attend a different school instead of their assigned Pathway school, families must go to a Welcome Center and participate in the registration process to select a new BPS school.


 

For High School Students

Exam Schools

Boston has three “exam schools” which serve students in grades 7–12. Admission to these schools is based on grade point average and test scores on the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE), a national standardized test. Learn more about Boston’s Exam Schools at our Exam School resource guide

High Schools that Require Special Admissions or Additional Application Requirements

There are 33 BPS high school options. Six of these high school options have additional requirements for admission. These additional requirements can include a separate, extra application to other materials such as essays, teacher recommendations, or the completion of an audition.

In order to be considered for any of these special admission schools, these schools must be ranked in order of preference AND students must complete whatever additional application requirements are specified by each school. As special admissions and additional application requirements vary by school, please visit the School Profile for each school below:

For ALL Grades

Innovation Schools

An Innovation School has increased autonomy and flexibility in curriculum, budget, schedule and calendar, staffing, professional development, and district policies. Innovation Schools represent a chance for local school committees – in cooperation with superintendents, teachers’ unions, parents, outside partners and others – to internally charter their own schools.

Boston has five Innovation Schools. To view a list of BPS Innovation Schools, click here and select “Innovation” from the School Type field and hit “Submit.”

Pilot Schools

Pilot schools have flexibility around hiring, budget, and curriculum. Pilot schools span a variety of grade configurations through elementary, middle, and high school grades. Boston has 20 pilot schools. To view a list of BPS Pilot Schools, click here and select “Pilot” from the School Type field and hit “Submit.”

Horace Mann Charter Schools

There are six Horace Mann charter schools in Boston that are BPS schools and are free to attend. Horace Mann charter schools are also called “in-district” charter schools. 

Important note: Horace Mann charter schools are separate from Commonwealth charter schools, which are NOT part of the BPS district.

Horace Mann charter schools span a variety of grade configurations through elementary, middle, and high school grades. Admission to Horace Mann charter schools is by an open lottery. Each of the six Horace Mann schools has its own enrollment process and lottery.

To view individual enrollment information about the six Horace Mann charter schools, please visit their Boston School Finder School Profile or school website:

Turnaround Schools

Turnaround schools refer to three groups of schools designated as “Underperforming,” “Chronically Underperforming,” and “Focused/Targeted Support” via the state school accountability system.

Underperforming schools are those most struggling schools in the state of Massachusetts, based on an analysis of four-year trends in absolute achievement, student growth, and academic improvement trends. Schools designated as underperforming are required, by law, to undertake an accelerated “turnaround” process for rapid and sustainable improvement within three full school years. 

Schools categorized as in need of Focused/Targeted Support on Massachusetts' accountability system are those not already designated as "underperforming" or "chronically underperforming" that are in the lowest 10th percentile of schools in performance across the state, those with low-performing subgroups, high schools with a graduation rate below 67%, and schools with low participation rates. 

According to the Department's assistance strategy, all schools designated as Focused/Targeted Support must develop and implement a turnaround plan. 

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