The NOLA-PS Common Application Process (NCAP), formerly known as OneApp, opened on November 1st. Applying to a public school in New Orleans is complicated, and the more you know the better you will be able to navigate the application process. Last year I completed OneApp for the first time for my older daughter, and it was definitely a little painful, but not so bad. Although the application has a new name, I started one for my younger daughter this week and so far it’s an identical process.
Here are some important considerations as you tackle the NCAP:
Do I need to fill it out?
If you live in Orleans parish and you have a child age 0 through grade 12, then the NCAP may be for you.
You definitely need to complete NCAP if:
- Your child is not currently attending a New Orleans public school, and you want them to attend one next year.
- Your child currently attends a New Orleans public school, but you want them to attend a different public school next year.
You may need to complete NCAP if:
- Your child is in a transitional grade level (e.g., pre-k, 4th or 5th grade, 8th grade) and you want your child to attend the “same” school next year. Please check with your school to confirm that your child automatically has a placement. For example, almost all pre-k students are guaranteed a placement in their same school in kindergarten, but there is at least one exception. Some 8th graders matriculate into a specific high school, but not all.
You do not need to complete NCAP if:
- You are sure your child will attend private school next year, and you aren’t interested in publicly funded scholarship seats.
As an additional note, there are several charter schools in New Orleans that operate under Type 2 charters. These schools are open to any Louisiana residents.
Due Dates and Timeline
- Applications are due January 21, 2022. Once you have decided on your school preferences (see section below) the actual application does not require much time.
- You may need to submit additional forms after submitting the NCAP. For example, if you are applying for an early childhood seat, all applicants must verify program eligibility by uploading documents online. As another example, if you are expecting sibling priority, you may need to submit proof of sibling status. (As usual, how to do so varies by school.)
- You can expect results by the end of March, 2022.
- New Orleans has many great options for public schools. You can search for schools on this site. Click on the name of any school and use the tabs on the left to find out more info.
- Expand your school search beyond the most popular options. Keep in mind that school ratings are not the best predictor of your child’s experience in any school.
- Schedule school visits. Many schools are offering in person as well as virtual tours this year. Take this list of questions with you to help you learn more about each school.
As you’re making your list, it’s important to know that NCAP uses an advanced algorithm to match students to schools. Adding a higher number of schools to your list does not hurt your child’s chance of getting into their first choice.
Eligibility and Admissions Criteria
Although we use a common application in New Orleans, some schools have maintained specific eligibility and admissions criteria. For example, you may need to attend a parent meeting, or your child may need to take a test, in order to match with certain schools. Once you know what schools you’re interested in, be sure to visit their specific websites and see if they have additional admissions criteria. PK-8 schools that I know fall into this category include: Lusher, Lake Forest, Audubon, Hynes pre-k, and most language immersion programs in G1 and above.
Questions and Support
Unfortunately there is no centralized site to find answers to your NCAP questions, at least not that I’ve found. However, there are staff members who are quick to respond and generally very helpful. You can ask questions directly from the school enrollment portal, or you can email [email protected]. If you prefer in-person support, you can visit a Family Resource Center weekdays from 8:30am-3:00pm.
I know the school application process has a complicated reputation in New Orleans. Although you may not be looking forward to it, the actual data is encouraging. In fact, last year over 80% of K-12 applicants matched with one of their top three choices. In my personal experience, my daughter initially matched with our fourth choice school. The week after school started, she moved off the waitlist and was able to enroll in our top choice. I would have been happy to send her to any of the seven schools we included on our school choice list.