The MNPS Lottery, Late Birthday Children, and the Loss of My Sanity


Well, it’s fall. Do you know what that means?  Time to start thinking about the 2017-2018 school year!

No, really.  It’s time.

Remember back in the days of Yore, when your mom just took you to the local public school where you were zoned, signed you up, and then called it a day?

Ah. Good times.

back to school MNPS lottery late birthday

Well, now you have options! No longer are you bound to a certain school based on your residence. No more pretending you live at Grandma’s house so that your child can attend a different school. Starting October 31st, you can apply to up to seven of the 160 different Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) available for school options.  There are so many good places to learn the process, what to do, and when to do it.  You can go to the MNPS website, or this article, Making Sense of the Metro Nashville Public Schools Application Process, and they will educate you on everything you need to know.

Now that you know where to find the basics, let me walk you through the emotions of the school lottery system.  This can go one of two ways for you.

The first (and most desired) scenario:

You fill out your paperwork for your top seven choices, ranking them in order from your top choice at #1 and your last choice at #7, and submit.  Selection day arrives in December, you check your results, and BAM! You’re in! #1 school choice! Easy peasy. “Man, that wasn’t hard at all,”  you think to yourself while wondering why everyone makes such a fuss. Good for you, first scenario person. Good for you.

The second scenario:

You realize the year before your precious snowflake is supposed to start school that the state of TN has changed the law. Now a child must be five years old BEFORE August 15th in order to start kindergarten. Your baby has an August 23rd birthday. WHAT!?! You call Metro and ask, “What can be done?!”  They say, “Nothing.”

You, of course, do not believe that, so you research and research and everyone tells you, “Nothing can be done.” You finally dig through the TN House Bill that made this TN law change (because you are now a crazy person on a mission) and see that your child can be evaluated by your zoned school principal. But what if you want to enter your child into the lottery to attend a different school? Then what?

Let me save you the heartache and the endless internet searches/phone calls and tell you to contact the Office of Exceptional Education (at 615-259-8702). They will mail you a LARGE packet that you and your child’s preschool teachers must fill out and return. Once you submit the packet, you wait for a phone call to set up your first testing session. Should your snowflake pass the first session, you begin the second testing session. If your child passes that session, then you are set for kindergarten.

You will receive a letter of approval for an early admission that must accompany your MNPS lottery application. If your child has a late birthday, and you choose to go this route, start this process ASAP. This process can take a couple of months as they have hundreds of applicants to process and test. We submitted our application in October, tested late November and early December, and got our letter of approval for early admission the day before lottery submissions were due. (Cue heart attack.)

So, you have your Early Admission letter, your lottery submission and you submit it and breathe a sigh of relief.

Selection Day arrives in December, you check your results, and see that you got your #6 pick. Wait, what? #6? You may cry at your desk over this. But do not worry! You still have a chance to move up your list. After Selection Day occurs and people accept (or do not accept) a school, it opens up available seats in other schools. Starting in March and going through July, Metro will have four “pulls” to fill the vacant seats left by people not accepting a seat at a school. This is where you have the possibility of moving up the list toward your top ranked schools. By the end of the summer, we accepted a spot at our #4 choice school and were happy.

We sent our special snowflake off to his first day at #4 school and were so happy to be done with the lottery process.   That is—until we received a phone call, five days into the start of school, letting us know that a seat had opened up for us at #1 school.

You. cannot. be. serious.

We JUST started #4 school! You may cry and tell your husband, “NO, absolutely not! We are not moving him. I’m so DONE with this!” But then your husband will calm you down with phrases like, “Stop being crazy,” and “Sibling preference for our daughter in two years,” and you will calm down and transfer your child after five days of school.  We are now on our second year at #1 school—and love it.

So there you have it. The two possible outcomes of the MNPS Lottery—at least for the elementary age children. Most of you will not have to deal with the late birthday problem (you lucky dogs), but should you not get your #1 school on Selection Day, hang in there. After all of the pulls, if you still do not make it to your #1 school, then you can always re-apply the next year.

Parents who have entered the MNPS School Options lottery, how was your experience?


  1. I’m curious what positions you started out with at your #4 and #1 schools.
    The lottery results came back for 17-18 school year and while not dismal (we landed a spot in our #4 choice and we are #4 on the waitlist at #3 choice) we’d really love for our daughter to go to our #2 choice. We’re #39 on that list though…

    Trying to hold out hope that maybe we’ll be one of the lucky ones the first week of school and get a call but I’m not sure if I’m just being delusional or not.

    • Hey! We started at #15 on our #1 school. After the first pull we got down to #8, then to #6 after the last pull. I even double-checked our status the day before school started and we were still at #6 on the list. But then I guess 6 kids didn’t show up on the first day? So I guess that’s is why our call came after school started.

      I honestly cannot remember what number we started at for our #4 choice school, we just eventually got in there after a few pulls.

      We were like number 50 something on our second choice school and I think we got down in the 30s after all of the pulls, but we never came close on that one.

      I’d say you have a good shot at your #3 choice being at 4. We got good results for our daughter this year on the lottery, but that is due to sibling preference. So now I’m really glad we moved our son 🙂 Good luck! This process is exhausting… :-/

  2. I’m biting my fingernails and dying to talk to people who’ve went through this experience, so thank you for this post! We got a seat at our 4th choice. #7 on our top choice, #16 on our second choice, and #21 on our 3rd choice. I’ve already 90% made the decision that we would probably pass if we get a seat at 3rd choice. I can’t decide if I should be hopeful about being #7 for our top choice or not (I hate getting my hopes up), as it’s a pretty popular school. From what I know about our second highest choice school, I think our chances of getting in there are decently high. The scenario of sending my little dude off to one school for his first day of school, then moving him to a new school is hard on me. Overall of course we want him at one of our higher priority schools, but the emotions & explaining to him if we switch after the first day will be tough (but worth it). Luckily he’s really well adjusted and outgoing, so I know he’ll be fine. But still! This is such a roller coaster!!

    • I hear ya, it is stressful! Another mom one day tried to talk with me about middle school options and I was like “I really cannot even with this right now, I need a break.” 🙂

      I think you are sitting pretty good at #7 for your top school. I don’t want to get your hopes up either, but that’s still not a bad position to be in. You still have 2 pulls to work your way down the list.

      Transferring our son on his 5th day of school was not easy, but not as bad as I imagined. He cried when I told him, and he was nervous starting at the new school a week later than everyone else, but he came back from his first day at his new school all smiles and it was never an issue after that. Kids are so much more resilient than we are. I was a mess! He was fine after 10 min. Ha! 🙂 So I’m glad we did it, even though I threw my own little temper tantrum about it.

      Try not to stress it too much, especially before the pulls happen. 🙂 Good luck mama!

  3. My son turns 5 at the end of September next year. I am trying to start the process now. I used your information above, but I keep getting the run around. At first I was told that we would have to fill out the extensive amount of forms you mentioned, then I was notified that in order for my son to be admitted for early entrance into kindergarten that those forms may not be necessary. By any chance, would you be able to email me information concerning the forms that were used for your child? Thank you!

    • Hi CJ! If you are not trying to enter the lottery, then you may be able to go to your zoned school and meet with the principal and have him evaluated (that was my understanding at the time anyway). Since we wanted to enter the lottery, we didn’t have a certain school to go to and do that because we didn’t know what school he’d be going to. I had to call to have the forms sent to me.

      Here’s the info from the MNPS website ” HOW DO I GET MY CHILD SCREENED TO PARTICIPATE IN ENCORE?

      For children younger than kindergarten, please contact the Office of Exceptional Education at (615) 687 – 4551, x665702. ”

      Good Luck!

      • Thank you so much for responding, Amy! Yes – we are definitely interested in entering the lottery for an optional school. I think my only concern is that the forms from Encore primarily seem to speak on intellectually gifted children. I believe my son is very bright for his age and can certainly thrive in Kindergarten next year. However, I’m not sure if he would be considered as “gifted” by Encore standards. I do not want him to be rejected and not given the chance to at least be tested because of the Encore guidelines listed on the forms. Nevertheless, we will try this route and see how it goes. Thank you again for the help! All of this is certainly overwhelming! 🙂

  4. Hi! My husband and I are planning to move to Nashville this summer. Would you mind listing your top 7 school picks? It is so overwhelming to look at the list of schools and not be there to check any of them out.

  5. I am new to Nashville. And I have a 2 year old with late birthday. Lol, I guess I have to call the 615 number to get the large package. Do you have any school recommendations for Nashville schools? I live in Antioch, the schools’ rate on are very bad. I definitely need to do the lottery thing.


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