Press Release

National Alliance Releases State-by-State Analysis of Weighted Lotteries for Educationally Disadvantaged Students

July 6, 2015

Riya V. Anandwala
202 521 2833

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released a report, State Laws On Weighted Lottery and Enrollment Practices: Summary of Findings, which examines how public charter school state laws treat the use of weighted lotteries – a provision that gives additional weight to students who are identified as a disadvantaged group – in light of the guidance issued last year by the U.S. Department of Education on the permissible use of weighted lotteries for student admission.  

According to the Department’s guidance, public charter schools receiving Charter School Program (CSP) funding can offer a slightly better chance of admission – a “weight” – to educationally disadvantaged students through weighted lotteries, if the state explicitly permits their use. At this time, only four states explicitly allow the use of weighted lotteries – Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Rhode Island.  

“The vast majority of states do not have explicit standards regarding weighted lotteries when federal funds are used,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance. “This lack of clarity in policymaking inadvertently hurts disadvantaged students, the very students we seek to serve.” 

As a remedy, the House and Senate have both accepted the National Alliance’s recommended changes to the Reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which would permit all charter schools receiving CSP funds to use weighted lotteries, making it easier to serve disadvantaged students, unless a state law specifically prohibits the use of such lottery. At this time, no state prohibits weighted lotteries.

The Department defines an educationally disadvantaged student as economically disadvantaged, disable, migrant, not proficient in English, neglected or delinquent, or homeless.

“This important language, while technical, could make a difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable students,” said Rees.

About Public Charter Schools

Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, all but one independent research study has found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit

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