Options and Transfers

Options and Transfers

Arlington Public Schools provides families the opportunity to enroll in an option school/program or request a neighborhood transfer as an alternative to attending their neighborhood school. Option schools/programs have specialized instructional programs that provide pre-K, elementary, middle and high school students the opportunity to thrive in a specialized educational setting. Students may apply for an option school/program or a transfer to a neighborhood school that is accepting transfers based on the Superintendent’s annual update to the School Board.

In order to be considered for an option school/program or neighborhood transfer, families must submit an application through the online application portal. If more applications are received than the seats available, APS will conduct a random, double-blind lottery to determine admission to these programs and schools.

Below is a brief overview of the options and transfers application, policy, and process for elementary and secondary schools and programs. Information includes key dates and deadlines, along with information about lotteries and waitlists, the appeals process, transportation, sibling preference and more. Option schools and programs are free for all students to attend and transportation is provided.

Options and Transfers Policy and School Information Resources

Families are encouraged to review the Guidebook for Parents to learn more about neighborhood schools and option schools/programs.

The Options and Transfers Policy (J-5.3.31) and Policy Implementation Procedure (J-5.3.31 PIP-1) outlines the process determined by the School Board that APS follows to ensure equitable access for all students to the available option school/programs and neighborhood transfers. Families are encouraged to review this policy and PIP for additional procedural information on the options and transfers process.

Pre-Kindergarten

Primary Montessori Application Timeline
Application Window: OPEN Feb. 3 – April 27, 2020
Application Deadline April 27, 2020 at 4 p.m.
Lottery May 6, 2020
Lottery Notification May 13, 2020
Accept/Decline May 22, 2020
VPI & CPP Application Timeline
Application Window: OPEN Feb. 3 – June 1, 2020
Application Deadline June 1, 2020 at 4 p.m.
Lottery June 10, 2020
Lottery Notification June 15, 2020
Accept/Decline June 22, 2020

General Pre-Kindergarten Application Information for School Year 2020-21

  • The Montessori program is an interdisciplinary, multi-age approach to learning where students work independently and cooperatively in a prepared environment that allows students ages 3-5 to work at their own pace. The fees for this program are based on sliding scale contingent on family income.
  • The Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) program is a FREE high-quality pre-K program for eligible four-year-old children. Children engage in enriching educational experiences, explore learning materials and new ideas, and build their skills as they prepare to enter kindergarten.
  • The Community Peer Pre-K Program is available at select APS elementary schools for preschoolers ages 2 years 6 months (by September 30) through 4-years old from the community to participate in a high-quality pre-K program. This program provides play-based instruction to target all developmental areas with a focus on communication, interactions with peers and adults, as well as fostering growing independent skills. This program is aligned with the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) program and differentiated to meet student’s needs. The fees for this program are based on the same sliding scale as the Montessori program and is contingent on family income.
  • ADMISSION: Students are admitted to these programs throughout the year as seats become available.
  • Lottery Information: The lotteries for the Primary Montessori Program was held on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The recording of the lotteries is available online. The lotteries for the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) & Community Peer Pre-K (CPP) Program will be conducted online due to APS offices being closed currently for COVID-19. Families will be able to watch the results of the lotteries, but will not receive lottery results on the day of the lottery. Families will be notified of their student’s acceptance or placement on the waitlist by email and/or text message on June 15. Visit the following link to watch the lotteries live: https://bit.ly/3dK1EQV.
  • TO APPLY: The application for all pre-K programs is available on the online application portal.

Additional information is available on the Preschool Options and Transfers page. 

Elementary School

Elementary School Options & Transfers Application Timeline
Application Window: OPEN Feb. 3 – April 27, 2020
Application Deadline April 27, 2020 at 4 p.m.
Lottery May 6, 2020
Lottery Notification May 13, 2020
Accept/Decline May 22, 2020

 General Elementary School Options & Transfers Application Information for School Year 2020-21

  • Option Schools: Arlington Traditional, Campbell, Claremont, Montessori Public School of Arlington, and Key.
  • Neighborhood Transfers: APS is unable to offer elementary neighborhood transfers for the 2020-21 school year. However, families that would like to request their child attend an elementary school other than their neighborhood elementary school can request an administrative transfer.
  • Information Night: Watch the Kindergarten Information Night video or view the PowerPoint presentation. In addition, each elementary school offers a school-based information session for families.
  • Lottery Information: The lotteries for all elementary option schools were held on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The recording of the lotteries is available online.
  • Waitlists: The waitlist for elementary option schools is maintained year-round, and families will be notified if they are on the waitlist and a seat becomes available. All waitlists reset when the options and transfers period begins each year, so families must reapply if they are still interested in attending a school or program they applied to previously.
  • Sibling Preference: Siblings who will be concurrently enrolled at the same elementary school will receive priority in admission.
  • Transportation: Transportation is available for students attending option schools/programs. However, bus stops may be centralized and a longer distance from a student’s residence. Transportation is not provided for neighborhood or administrative transfers.
  • Appeals: Families with students placed on a waitlist can file an appeal for an administrative transfer under the appeals process. Approval under the appeals process occurs after the lottery and the timeline to accept or decline options and transfers offers.
  • TO APPLY: Submit an Elementary Option School Application through the online application portal.

Additional information is available on the Elementary School Options and Transfers page. 

Middle School

Option Middle Schools & Programs Application Timeline
Application Window: CLOSED Nov. 4, 2019 – Jan. 17, 2020
Lottery Jan. 29, 2020
Lottery Notification Feb. 7, 2020
Accept/Decline Feb. 21, 2020
Middle School Neighborhood Transfers Application Timeline
Application Window: OPEN Feb. 24, 2020 – March 16, 2020
Lottery March 23, 2020
Lottery Notification March 30, 2020
Accept/Decline April 10, 2020

General Middle School Options & Transfers Application Information for School Year 2020-21 

  • Option Schools/Programs: Spanish Immersion Program at Gunston, Montessori Middle Years Program at Gunston, and H-B Woodlawn (Grades 6-8).
  • Neighborhood Transfers: The application period to apply for a neighborhood middle school transfer will open on Feb. 24, 2020. Information about middle school transfers for the 2020-21 school year is available on the Middle School Requesting a Transfer webpage. Families that would like to request their child attend a middle school other than their neighborhood middle school can request an administrative transfer after first applying for a neighborhood transfer if available.
  • Information Night: Watch the Middle School Information Night video or view the PowerPoint presentation. In addition, each middle school offers a school-based information session for families.
  • Waitlists: Middle school neighborhood transfer waitlists will be maintained by the APS Welcome Center until May 1, 2019. Options seats are continuously filled throughout the school year as seats become available. Families will be notified if they are on the waitlist and a seat becomes available. If families do not accept or decline a seat by the deadline, the available seat is given to the next student on the waitlist. All waitlists reset when the options and transfers period begins each year, so families must reapply if they are still interested in attending a school or program they applied to previously.
  • Sibling Preference: Sibling preference is not currently offered at the middle school level.
  • Transportation: Transportation is available for students attending option schools/programs. However, bus stops may be centralized and a longer distance from a student’s residence. Transportation is not provided for neighborhood or administrative transfers.
  • Appeals: Families with students placed on a waitlist can file an appeal for an administrative transfer under the appeals process. Approval under the appeals process occurs after the lottery and the timeline to accept or decline options and transfers offers.
  • To Apply: Apply for an option middle school or program through the online application portal.

Additional information on middle school options and transfers is available on the Middle School Options and Transfers page. 

High School

Option High Schools & Programs Application Timeline
Application Window: CLOSED Nov. 4, 2019 – Jan. 17, 2020
Lottery Jan. 29, 2020
Lottery Notification Feb. 7, 2020
Accept/Decline Feb. 21, 2020
High School Neighborhood Transfers Application Timeline
Application Window: OPEN Feb. 24, 2020 – March 16, 2020
Lottery March 23, 2020
Lottery Notification March 30, 2020
Accept/Decline April 10, 2020

General High School Options & Transfers Application Information for School Year 2020-21

  • Option Schools/Programs: Advanced Placement (AP) Network at Wakefield, Arlington Tech at the Arlington Career Center, H-B Woodlawn (Grades 9-12), Spanish Immersion Program at Wakefield, and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Washington-Liberty.
  • Neighborhood Transfers: The application period to apply for a neighborhood high school transfer will open on Feb. 24, 2020. Information about high school transfers for the 2020-21 school year is available on the High School Requesting a Transfer webpage. Families that would like to request their child attend a high school other than their neighborhood high school can request an administrative transfer after first applying for a neighborhood transfer if available.
  • Information Night: Watch the High School Information Night video or view the PowerPoint presentation. In addition, each high school offers a school-based information session for families.
  • Waitlists: High school neighborhood transfer waitlists will be maintained by the APS Welcome Center until May 1, 2019. Options seats are continuously filled throughout the school year as seats become available. Families will be notified if they are on the waitlist and a seat becomes available. If families do not accept or decline a seat by the deadline, the available seat is given to the next student on the waitlist. All waitlists reset when the options and transfers period begins each year, so families must reapply if they are still interested in attending a school or program they applied to previously.
  • Sibling Preference: Sibling preference is not currently offered at the high school level.
  • Transportation: Transportation is available for students attending option schools/programs. However, bus stops may be centralized and a longer distance from a student’s residence. Transportation is not provided for neighborhood or administrative transfers.
  • Appeals: Families with students placed on a waitlist can file an appeal for an administrative transfer under the appeals process. Approval under the appeals process occurs after the lottery and the timeline to accept or decline options and transfers offers.
  • To Apply: Apply for an option high school or program through the online application portal.

Additional information on middle school options and transfers is available on the High School Options and Transfers page. 


For additional information or questions, please contact the APS Welcome Center at 703-228-8000 or schooloptions@apsva.us.