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Northeast ConsortiumThe Choice Process → Choice Process in Detail

Choice Process in Detail

A Lottery Snapshot:  The Choice process is a lottery school assignment process that considers students’ choice ranking, base area school, sibling link, school capacity, and socioeconomic status.  Students are guaranteed their base school only when ranked first on the initial Choice form, or if it is marked second and their first choice is not available.  For all students not requesting their base area school or the same school as their older sibling,* school assignments are based on a combination of the aforementioned factors, and is not solely controlled by available space and the student’s preferred choice.  Every effort is made to assign students to their first choice, however, students may be assigned to subsequent choices.  All NEC students are subject to the school assignment lottery process except in some cases of students in special education or ESOL programs.  
* The older sibling must be attending the requested school, in the comprehensive program, the following school year.

In June 1997, the Board of Education approved a preferred choice process to guide school assignments:

In Grade 8, students and parents are invited to learn about the Northeast Consortium (NEC) Signature Programs and Choice Process.  The Choice process is a school assignment lottery process that assigns students to a high school based on a variety of factors.  There are two rounds in the Choice process: Round 1 is for residents of the NEC, and Round 2 is for new NEC students, students who did not get their first choice in Round 1 and students on transfer into a NEC middle school.  Students who participate in Round 1 will be notified of their base area high  school which is determined by their home address.

In Grade 8, students rank the Consortium high schools in order of preference, considering their interest in the Signature program offered at each school.

Students are guaranteed assignment to their base area high school if (1) the base area school is indicated as the first choice on the Choice form or (2) indicated as second choice and the first choice school is not available.

Assignment decisions are guided by the principle that comparable demographics at the three high schools will provide educational benefits to all students.  High school capacities and projected student enrollments are used to control student assignment to prevent schools from becoming disproportionately overutilized or underutilized. 

Other demographic controls are applied to the student assignment process, as needed, including student "ever" Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS) status and consideration of the impact of assignments on the percentage of male and female students at the consortium schools . 
Younger siblings of students enrolled in a Consortium high school are guaranteed attendance at the same school as their older sibling if indicated as the first choice on the Choice form; and the older sibling is scheduled to continue attendance at the high school, in the comprehensive program (i.e. not in the magnet program ), for the following school year.  Siblings who enter the Choice process at the same time will be provided the option to "link" their school choices.  The choices between the siblings must be identical in order for the sibling link to take effect.  Students who request a sibling link are guaranteed assignment to the same high school. Parents should note, however, that after Round 1 and Round 2 of the lottery process are completed, requesting sibling link during the appeal process is not always guaranteed because all students have been assigned and high school seats are limited.  

All Grade 8 students residing in the NEC are advised to complete a NEC Choice form in Round 1 (November), even if they are attending a middle school outside the NEC.  Grade 8 students who reside in the NEC and attend a Downcounty middle school are eligible to apply to the following application programs: Montgomery Blair High School CAP, John F. Kennedy LTI program, and Wheaton’s Biomedical and Engineering application programs.   See program details for application deadlines. NEC students attending a middle school in the Downcounty Consortium (DCC) may participate in the Round 2 (February) of the DCC Choice process lottery. Choice forms will be mailed to the student's home.    

Students who reside outside the NEC, but attend an NEC middle school, may participate in the high school Choice process during Round 2.  These students also are assured of attending a Consortium high school; however, they have no guarantee of admittance to a specific high school, because they do not reside within a base area of one of the high schools.  Choice forms for NEC residents are processed in the first round, and Choice forms for out-of-Consortium students are processed in the second round of the student assignment process, after students residing in the Consortium have been provided with their high school assignments.  Students who are new residents to the Consortium and those from Round 1 who did not get their first choice may also participate in Round 2.

Students who participated in the Round 1 lottery and were not assigned to their first choice, have the option of resubmitting their original choices into the Round 2 lottery.  In order to access the resubmit form, students should be logged on to their school Google account and enter the URL found in the school assignment letter.  The assignment will either remain the same or go to a higher ranked school on their choice form.  Results of the Round 2 lottery will be mailed out in mid-March.

Any Grade 8 Montgomery County student may apply to the following criteria based application programs: The Montgomery Blair High School Math/Science/Computer Science magnet program (available to students from selected geographic locations), The Albert Einstein High School Visual Arts Center, the Richard Montgomery International Baccalaureate (IB) magnet program and the Poolesville HS Global Ecology program.  These programs are available countywide, admit students based on applications, not through the Consortium choice process. Students from the Northeast Consortium may apply to these programs, but must meet the admission requirements to be accepted. These programs begin in Grade 9.

In February, students in Grades 9, 10, or 11 who wish to request a different NEC high school for the following school year may submit a Change of Choice request form. Change of Choice request forms become available in mid January at all three NEC high school counseling offices. The Change of Choice process considers a variety of factors when reassigning students to schools. These factors include school enrollment, the number of available seats, socioeconomic status, and impact of proposed assignments on gender. During the Change of Choice process, students who are requesting their base consortium high school or requesting a consortium high school to join an older or same age sibling are guaranteed assignment.  If a Change of Choice request is denied, the parent may appeal the decision in writing.

Students who reside outside the Northeast Consortium and who do not attend a Northeast  Consortium middle school may apply for transfer into the Northeast Consortium through the existing student transfer process. The Change of School Assignment (COSA) requires students to indicate a specific high school for the transfer. Requests are subject to the guidelines set forth by the transfer policy. 

Appeals of student high school assignment decisions are handled on two levels. The first level of appeal is administered through the Consortium office. The second level of appeal is administered through the Office of the Chief Operating Officer.

Related Information

Round 2 of the Choice process 
Change of school assignment (student transfers) 
Application-only programs for MCPS students