Transferring into the Albany School District

Parent Q&A

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  • We are looking into transferring from Berkeley to Albany for high school.  He will be taking the placement exams for math and world language. How does timing work for the placement exams with regards to being released, accepted, etc.?  Albany does not notify you until the summer, so he will not be able to take Albany's placement exam.  If he gets released from Berkeley, I'm guessing Berkeley will not allow him to take the placement exams.  Albany enrollment starts March 1.  Is it better to get released sooner rather than later?

    Anyone who has gone through this process?

    It sounds like your son is currently in 8th grade? You can take placement tests for Albany High in August, the week before school starts. I would apply for the transfer now/ASAP and worry about placement later. FYI there are only two choices for math classes in 9th grade at AHS and if your child hasn't been at AHS for math I would suggest just going with Math 1, ie., no need to take the math placement exam. (There is a path within Math 1 to prepare for Math 2+ as a soph) Yes to the language placement if you're wanting Language 2 instead of Language 1. Although my understanding is plenty of frosh take Language 1 again to ensure a high grade. The point being, don't stress about it!

  • I recently saw a flier posted by AUSD saying they are currently accepting applications for inter-district transfers for the 2020-2021 school year.  Can someone provide any information about 1. how often these opportunities present themselves, 2. what grade levels they generally accept transfers for and 3. what the process entails?

    I reached out to the person listed on the flier and they said the first step is to be released from our district, WCCUSD and she said they would not be able to answer any of my questions above nor could they help me until we were released.

    I have two children both entering the school system via TK in the next two years and want them to be at the same school. I also don't want to go through the process of getting released and give up our TK spot to discover there are no transfer spots for kids in the lower grade levels.  

    Can anyone with first hand experience or knowledge about the process please advise. Thank you!

    Would love to hear what you learn as we're in the same boat considering this.   Hard to get any info this week as the district offices are not answering the phones and offices are closed for visits. 

    I suggest you get in contact with the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services or the Director of Student Services/Special Education at 510 558 3750 or send an email.  You can go the department pages on the District webpage. and there are direct links to send an email.  

    Best of Luck

  • Hi - looking for feedback from parents who recently (2017, 2018) applied for an out of district transfer into AMS, and either got it or didn't get it. I feel like I have heard that AUSD is more open to transfers other than elementary level in recent years (for the $$$) but don't know anyone personally. Mulling over an attempt for getting into AMS for next year as a sixth grader, knowing that my child will otherwise completely coast in 6th grade at elementary school at WCCUSD. But I also don't want to put my family through a stressful experience if there's zero chance of getting a spot on or before the first day of school - or - heaven forbid, losing our spot at our home school without getting a spot at AMS.

    Thanks for sharing your recent experience!

    When I tried to get an interdistrict transfer,  I found the difficulty was getting released from WCCUSD.  Yes, you have to be released and you have to have a reason, either you work, have child care in Albany or they offer something that your school doesn't.  I don't know what school your son would be going to but if they don't have a band,  Albany Middle has a great band so you might use that as an excuse.  Good luck!!

    The district is indeed looking to approve significantly more transfer requests at the high school, where there is capacity.  The middle school, however, is overcrowded.  I do not believe the district plans to increase transfer at that level.

My son was also approved for an intra-district transfer from WCCUSD to AUSD in 2020 -2021 and I know of 3 other families who were also approved during this time. I think during the pandemic it was much easier to get approved. My reason for requesting transfer was that our assigned WCCUSD school was identified for program improvement. Once you're granted a transfer, you're basically guaranteed renewal but you DO have to reapply for the permit every February as a formality.  This year it seems it is much more difficult to get released from WCCUSD. I know of 3 families who applied for transfer based on "parent preference", they even filed appeals but were ultimately all denied release. AUSD is currently accepting transfer students in all grades but WCCUSD will not release you unless you have a very specific reason. (ie: work in Albany, childcare in Albany, sibling attending, specific program, continuing student). 

  I also know many families who love their neighborhood WCCUSD schools, either way I'm sure you'll be able to find a happy solution. 

Two of the responses are not giving accurate information. I am a WCCUSD-residing parent with a student on a legal interdistrict transfer to AUSD that was approved in 2020 for the school year starting 20-21. There was zero problem getting released from WCCUSD because we had a legitimate reason and checked the right box. We do not have to "reapply" each year, including the recent year where my student moved up to a new AUSD school. You simply have to return a piece of paper annually to each district that says you want to continue the transfer. They send you the form, you return it. No complaints about either district's process; they both follow the rules as laid out in Ed Code.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Can an El Cerrito kid attend Albany middle school?

July 2014

Our boy is entering 4th grade at Madera Elementary in EC and I wonder if there is a way to legally attend Albany middle school in a few years. Has anyone here done that? Thanks El Cerrito family

The Albany USD website has a good description of how interdistrict transfers work.

Yes, they grant many transfers, but they give priority to parents who have some connection to Albany. Top priority goes to people who work for AUSD, then employees of the city of Albany, then to folks who own a business in Albany.

I live in El Cerrito and know many people who've sent their kids to Albany schools--but they've always fit in to one of the above-mentioned categories. I think it's unlikely that you'd get a spot if you aren't working in Albany in some capacity. EC mom

The answer is hard. Legally, you need to live there with established residency and re-verify your address every year. Or, you can apply for an inter-district transfer with preference given to AUSD employees, city of Albany employees, Albany business owners, and then everyone else.

I'd like to invite you to listen in on our community, where we really have a lot of great things happening. email us at portolaptsa [at] to be added to our e tree.

Is it perfect? No. But really, it isn't what you think it is. -Hoping you'll join us.

2007 - 2009 Discussions

Transfer to Albany High from Berkeley?

June 2009

Does anyone have information about attending Albany High, for a student that does not live in Albany? Is this even possible? How do you apply, and where is the information? We only saw very old information on the BPN web site, and are looking for more recent information and advice. Our daughter is in tears at the prospect of attending Berkeley High, and we want to find out about Albany. Thanks. In Berkeley, Want Albany

Unfortunately, I don't think you will be able to transfer your child to Albany High School. Albany school accepted a lot of interdistrict transfers a few years ago, and in addition have had a lot of children move into the district, and now find ourselves overcrowded. Even students at Albany Middle School, are having to prove their residency status to enroll at the High School next year. The district also has a system that gives priority for transfer to the children of district employees, siblings of current students, etc. Short of moving to Albany, it's very difficult. You can contact the district office, but you might want to look into other alternatives as well, such as charter schools in Oakland that might allow you to transfer or private/parochial schools while you have some time left before the fall. Good Luck! Albany parent

My understanding (we live in Albany) is that there are no longer any inter-city transfers into Albany schools because they are at capacity. Albany teachers that live out of district can enroll their children in Albany schools, but the schools are so full that last year they told those teachers their children might not get in. Fortunately they were able to, but I mention this to illustrate how transfers aren't happening. You can call the school district directly to confirm. anon

From what I know, a transfer into Albany is tough, since the schools are the main reason people live there. However, I would encourage a second look at Berkeley High. While it is large, the school is divided into smaller schools and has more of a collegiate atmosphere than you'd expect from a suburban school. I think most kids will find their niche there. berkeley public school parent

There are virtually no more interdistrict transfers available, from what I hear. I do know of folks who have done this: rent a room or apartment in Albany and then you are a legal resident. There are ''shared'' housing listings for Albany on Craigslist. Albany Parent

It is still true that you apply for an interdistrict transfer with the AUSD. Since admin cuts have been made, you'll need to ask who is processing those now.

Priority is given to students whose parent works in Albany or who has a sibling already attending school in Albany. In the past, Albany has accepted more transfers at elementary and middle school level than in high school. Transfers are accepted only to bring classes to maximum size. Once a transfer student is in AUSD, they can continue as long as they behave. AUSD facilities were already overcrowded by about 20%, and they're now hit badly by budget cuts. Since teachers are being let go, and classes made larger anyway, it's hard to say in the shuffle where there will be any space for transfers.

Albany citizens also pay high parcel taxes that go to the schools and are desperately raising money to preserve school programs, electives, & sports. If your child gets in, I hope you volunteer time for school activities and also make a significant donation to SCHOOLCARE or the Albany Education Foundation.

The only guaranteed way to get into AHS is to move to Albany. You must show the school district a lease or deed, plus utility bills and a driver's license, with your name and Albany address. Albany apartments aren't as expensive as you might think, and there are some older condos with beautiful Bay views on Pierce Street. Albany parent

''Albany citizens also pay high parcel taxes that go to the schools and are desperately raising money to preserve school programs, electives, & sports. If your child gets in, I hope you volunteer time for school activities and also make a significant donation to SCHOOLCARE or the Albany Education Foundation''

This is an important part of what keeps AUSD alive. Households are encouraged to donate $500. per child attending Albany schools. In addition to this there is the ''Albany Music Fund'' which supports the sagging but terrific music program with many years of tradition and high quality. Ditto for sports boosters. Being an AUSD family means paying high parcel tax as was mentioned above and donating money and/or time. AUSD parent


Transferring from private school to AUSD

Dec 2008

We are considering transferring our kids from private school to the Albany school district next year. They are currently attending a small school with hardly any homework and no standardized tests. Our daughter will be going into fifth grade and our son into third grade. I would like to hear about other people's experience: what was it like academically and socially, what is your sense of the parent community, sense of safety in the school and communication with teachers. And also: what would you recommend doing in preparation for this move? Thanks. anon

As a parent of two children at Marin, I'd say that the AUSD I know is very supportive, with active PTAs and a lot of parent support of classroom activity, and responsive teachers. I wouldn't worry about the standardized tests (other than to worry about the whole ''No Child Left Behind'' philosophy as a time suck generally); there's a fair amount of homework, esp. in 5th grade, but it's less difficult than just takes time. Safety, at least in our experience, isn't a question. I'm sure you'd be welcomed! Dolphin Dad

Our daughter transferred to Marin Elementary this year after 4 years in a very small cozy private school and she is doing beautifully. She is in 4th grade so the class size was a shock at first (she went from a class w/ 19 kids and 2 teachers to a class w/ 31 kids and one teacher). We think the teaching and the curriculum are great, and the parent community is friendly, committed and involved. An added plus is that we can walk to school (which many families do), and my daughter can casually run into and play with her new friends. At her other school, everyone drives so all kid contact after school hours had to be mediated by parents. We are completely pleased with the move and my daughter is too, though when we first floated the idea she was so upset she told us she would never talk to us again! But the transition has been even easier than we hoped. Feel free to contact me directly if you have more questions. Happy Marin Mom

2004 - 2006 Discussions

I heard there are ways for Berkeley kids to go to AHS

Sept 2005


As the high school years approach for my Berkeley twin boys, I am increasingly worried about our options. My kids are currently 7th graders at Tehiyah Day School and will graduate from there in June 2007. I recently heard that there are ways for Berkeley kids to attend Albany High School. Does anyone know how one does that? I would also appreciate general feedback on Albany High. I've looked on the web page but the posts are from a couple of years ago. worried mom

Albany High School has not been able to accept transfers to the high school for the past two school years. Only residents. The district is strict in checking for residency. (It is possible that there is room for a few transfer students in some younger grades; you can ask the Superintendent's office: 510-558-3750) AHS is crowded with 1200 students this year. School has already started, class assignments have been made, and there is not room for more students in many classes.

Except for the high school, transfer priorities as amended this spring are (a) children of AUSD staff, (b) children of Albany city employees, (c) children of other people who work in Albany, (d) others. BUT . The rule for people who work in Albany does not apply to high school (as per state education code). If you're transferring a kid to another district (ie, from Berkeley to Albany), you need formal permission from the district that they are leaving (and some districts don't like to give permission for departure).

AHS is a good school, with some really great teachers, lots of good teachers, great counseling staff, great principal, and a very active parent community. It's smaller than Berkeley, which is a plus, overall, though it has fewer class offerings. Kids who are focused and directed do better here (as elsewhere); and there is increasing effort to encourage kids who don't naturally do well. Lots of clubs, activities and a fair number of sports are available for students. Good luck. Merry


Non-Albany resident attending Albany High?

Sept 2005


It looks like my son Ben, 15, will be coming to live with me at the end of the year. He currently goes to a private school in San Jose, where he is about to begin 10th grade. I live and work in the Berkeley area. I am happy to move so that he will be in the best place in the area, but it's been years since I thought about high school. My other boy is 25 and went to Davis. Ben has no special issues and is bright and athletic. I want to put him somewhere he can thrive. I don't hear such great things about Berkeley High. What about Albany etc? Thanks, single parent again. Nick

The Albany superintendent said this year that no out of district transfers are allowed into the HS, but if students enter the Albany school system at an earlier level (and stay out of trouble) they are allowed to go on to the HS even if they don't live in Albany. Of course, students who move into Albany are allowed to transfer in. The houses are small and the prices high here. There are many condos for sale or rent on Albany Hill.

We moved to Albany before we had children, and now have one child in high school and one in middle school. Both schools are HORRIBLY crowded, even though both facilities are practically new. The teachers are pleased to teach kids whose parents care about education (a high proportion of Albany parents have college degrees, especially the foreign families in University Village).

If you want to send your kid to Albany, please be prepared to support Albany schools the way Albany parents are asked to do: a total of $1000 per child is recommended by fundraising groups, of which SCHOOLCARE is the largest. Albany has to raise money to pay for school counselors, librarians, lunchtime supervision, electives, music, and after-school sports. Without this money, and without the dedicated parent volunteers, Albany would not be a good educational experience at all.


Transfer policies for middle school & high school

May 2005


I attended a PTA meeting at AHS on May 2 for a presentation by the school board and the school superintendant. Among other interesting things they said, was that the school district's policy is NOT to take transfer students in middle school or high school (except, perhaps, to replace other transfer students who leave). They do accept new students at those levels who live in (have moved to) Albany. However, they DO accept transfers at the elementary level-- and then, once you're in, you stay in all the way, unless the student becomes an attendance problem. Warning: practically every school in Albany is overcrowded, and the latest estimate is that over 40% of all new K-1 students are English language learners. It's not clear if there's funding for ESL teachers. concerned

I just wanted to add something that someone posted this week, regarding Albany's transfer policy with respect to elementary schools. They are very strict about transfers, and do check addresses and make sure everything is current. We were Albany residents and our children attended the Albany elementary school in our neighborhood for four years. We moved in August, to Berkeley, and received a phone call one week later from the Albany school our children had attended saying that our children could not attend school in the fall (which was starting the next day!). Though they had attended the school for four years, Albany refused to allow them to attend school while Berkeley Unified attempted to place them at the last minute (they ultimately missed three weeks of school, though we fou! nd Berkeley Unified to be kind and sympathetic). If you do transfer into Albany schools from another district, I would make very certain what the rules are, if you have to re-apply every year, and what will happen to your child if the schools become impacted. From our experience, the well-being of your child may come last on their list of priorities. Happy to be in Berkeley


2003 & Earlier



We own a business in Albany, can son attand Albany High?

Sept 2004


My son is in 8th grade....high school is a year away. I know that Albany has strict rules for non Albany residents entering the Albany schools, but we have what may be a border line situation and I''m wondering how we can go about finding out correct info and who to contact..... We do not live in Albany. My husband has owned his business in Albany for 27 years. We own property and a business building in husband uses this building and part of the property for his office and business, and there is a rented apartment upstairs. My mother-in-law lives in Albany and my son spends a fair amount of time there. We pay Albany business, city and property taxes. Any help on this would be appreciated. anonymous please

Our daughter is a Senior at Albany High and does not live in Albany (she lived in Albany with her mother, who died, and then came to live with us). Your business affiliation with Albany should make your son's acceptance into Albany High fairly simple. Merely go to the District Office (just off of Solano Ave in Albany) and get the requisite forms. You have to get you son's current district to agree to let him transfer out (get forms from them) and then get the forms from Albany to submit asking them to allow him to transfer in. Once accepted, you don't have to keep applying every year (as we once did). Get the address you need by checking the Albany web site at Good luck! Ilene

THere is no guarantee, but having a business in Albany greatly improves your odds of getting an out-of-district spot. From the Albany Unified School District web site (

''If you do not live in Albany and want your child to attend Albany schools, you must obtain an inter-district permit from your district of residence. There is no separate application to fill out the permit from your district serves as an application. If you are seeking a transfer based on employment in Albany, there is a form you must submit with the permit. It is available at the District Office, 904 Talbot. If you are seeking a transfer based on childcare in Albany, please submit a letter stating the name, address and a telephone number of the provider. Submission deadline is May 1. Preference is based on category (work-related, childcare, other), not date of submission. ...If you have questions, please call Linda Baker at 558-3765.'' R.K.


Using a friend's address to attend Albany High?

January 2002


Does anyone have any experience with Albany High School ? I have a son who is smart, but not too focused or motivated , has some learning issues, and we have been told he could likely get lost at Berkeley High. Socially he has done well in big schools. We are looking into private but worry that all the private schools are too small for him. We have thought about the idea of using a friends address in Albany. Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions about this (dumb?) idea. Thanks

" We have thought about the idea of using a friends address in Albany. Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions about this (dumb?) idea. " Please don't do this. There are legal ways to apply for intra-district transfer, and it seems like that would be the appropriate action to take. There are implications for your son if you "teach" him that lying is ok sometimes, if it seems necessary... and you mean well... Good luck Heather


Transferring to Albany High from Berkeley High

July 2001


I would like information about Albany High School in the 10th - 12th grades. My son finished ninth grade at Berkeley High with very poor academic results. He cut a lot of classes, didn't do his homework and generally has a very cavalier attitude about school. I have the possibility of sending him to Albany High School. I'd like to know if the school climate is more personal and if the school keeps closer track of students? I'd also like to know what the social atmosphere of the school is like? Sherry

I have a daughter who will be junior at AHS, and I am very active with the PTA there. My perspective is based on my duaghter's experience but also on that of many other students whose parents are also involved with the school.

This year is a very good time for the AHS community because the teachers and the District have reached a tentative agreement which we hope will resolve the labor dispute, and the new high school will open in September.

Around 95% of Albany graduates go on to a two or four year college. The class work is academically challenging for most kids beginning in the 10th grade. However it is small enough that most kids can find some type of extra curricular activity in which they can become, theater, athlectics, journalism or a myriad of clubs. Most kids know all their classmates (about 240 per grade level) and some have know each other since kindergarten. I would like to say that it depends for the most part on the individual student whether they can find a place in the social life of the school.

The size makes it very hard for a student to fall through the cracks academically. There are 3 counselors for about 900 students, quite a great ratio. The current administration is young, energetic and student centered.

Is it a perfect place?,,,of course not. Some kids don't find the hook they need to plug into the school, not all classes work for all students, the size also limits the breadth of academic choices that a large school offers, sometimes kids feel it is too small. Also it is not always easy to be admitted as space is limited.

I would recommend you call the school office and ask to speak with the principal to see if there is an opportunity for your son this year. It is certainly worth looking at alternatives if another school is not working for your particular child. Sandy

In response to the parent whose son did poorly at BHS and is considering Albany HS for next year: I taught science at BHS for 12 years then taught at Albany HS last year. I'll be returning to BHS next year because I think the science department there is superior and for other personal and complicated reasons. I think I have a good perspective on the differences between the two schools.

Albany HS has less than 1000 students. This means that the average teacher who sees about 150 students per year (5 classes of 30 each) will know between 300 and 500 of the students at any given time, depending on the grades taught. If a teacher notices a student doing something antisocial or having any kind of trouble the teacher is likely to know the student and to report it to a counselor or administrator or to intervene in some other way. This means it is very hard for kids at AHS to get away with bad behavior. In general, I'm a proponent of positive reinforcement for good behavior as the major method of helping students learn to behave; but negative response to bad behavior is also critical. The big problem at BHS is that any given teacher will know a much smaller percentage of students and thus is unlikely to be able to respond effectively to bad behavior.

Students who are unresponsive to the teachers at BHS and who do poorly as a result are probably not getting sufficient feedback from teachers who they know and respect. At AHS they are more likely to hear from people who know them and see them acting badly. It's really hard to cut classes at AHS without being noticed. When you can cut and don't get any consequences as can happen at BHS, then you're likely to continue that behavior since it is easier and presumably appears to be more fun. I'd strongly recommend AHS for the student mentioned. The teachers and the curriculum are approximately equivalent to BHS but the adult supervision is superior because of the small school size. Steve

see also: Advice about Berkeley High School