Boosting Opportunity for Underprivileged Youth, Charter Schools Launch Weighted Lottery System in Nevada | Education
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) — In an effort to bring more socioeconomic diversity into charter school classrooms, state education officials said several Nevada charter schools will use a system of weighted lottery this spring for enrollment in the next school year.
The soon-to-open Cadence Campus at Coral Academy is just one example of a charter school using a weighted lottery system.
They will select students on Tuesday, March 1 to fill seats on this campus. The Cadence campus at Coral Academy aims to attract nearly 2,000 students for the next school year. However, as demand skyrockets for charter schools in the Silver State, according to leaders of the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority, waiting lists are growing.
“I think parents really want the flexibility to choose what’s best for their student,” said Melissa Mackedon, chair of the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority board of trustees. “The pandemic has really highlighted the inequalities in education, frankly.”
With charters using weighted lottery systems, some lottery applicants will have a better chance of being chosen than others, and Mackedon said we’ll see a lot more of those systems this year than in the past.
“[Let’s say] everyone had a lottery ticket, if you will, didn’t they? The way these weighted lotteries work … is if a student qualifies for a free or reduced lunch, they get an extra number of tickets,” Mackedon said. “I saw that Coral Academy will use four tickets. Pinecrest in northern Nevada will use a five-ticket ratio. So that kind of increases their chances. »
Only schools whose populations do not reflect the socioeconomic makeup of the community will be invited to run this type of lottery, council leaders told FOX5.
“We want schools to ensure that students who have historically underachieved and who have been deemed at-risk have maximum access to these high-quality schools that we allow,” Mackedon said.
Nevada charter schools have long been criticized for taking in students from more affluent backgrounds, creating inequity because charters often provide a high-quality education.
“We recognize that was a flaw, we recognize that it was a criticism of charter schools, and a fair criticism!” said Mackedon.
The new weighted lottery system is part of the Charter School Authority’s strategy, Mackedon said.
“We want to make sure that the student in these seats represents the demographics of Nevada as a whole,” she said.
Over the next two weeks, several charter schools will fill their spots for the upcoming school year. Other charters expected to use the weighted lottery system include Pinecrest, Somerset and Founders. The Cadence campus at Coral Academy was the first system to be state-approved.