High schoolers may have choice of campus 

San Francisco students entering high school would continue to choose what school they want to attend rather than be assigned to the campus closest to them under a proposal to revamp the student- assignment process.

San Francisco Unified School District officials on Tuesday night released a slew of recommendations to improve the way students are assigned to campuses. For elementary and middle school students, officials are considering two options — one would give students a choice of school and then place them based on academic performance, and the second would assign students to the school closest to their homes.

But for eighth-grade students entering high school, they would be able to pick their school. When the school is filled, names would go into a lottery, using academic performance to place high- and low-performing students more evenly at campuses. The goal is to better integrate schools.

“I think the high school choice option is great,” said Lorraine Woodruff-Long, who has a fifth-grader and a seventh-grader. “Limiting people for high school doesn’t make any sense.”

Also in the plan, eighth-grade students who are in a language program or other career pathway programs and want to continue those at a certain high school will have priority in their school choice, said Gentle Blythe, spokeswoman for the school district.

District officials say they are still hammering out the details of the high school proposal, which will be finalized at a March 9 Board of
Education hearing.

Currently, instead of students attending the school closest to their home, San Francisco uses a complex assignment system so students from all backgrounds will have a fair shot at going to the best schools.

Every year, parents apply to seven preferred schools. Students are then entered into a computer lottery that assigns them to schools based on many factors, including socio-economic class, and home location and language.

In 1994, the district stopped using race as a factor. But parents and even district officials have for years complained about the assignment system, saying it has not helped to racially diversify schools.

One of the other goals in revamping the assignment process is to balance enrollment so that schools are better utilized, Blythe said.

“Ideally, we are seeking to have all schools have a robust enrollment,” she said. “All schools are operating at 56 percent of the capacity.”


Change in the air

High school recommendation and goals:

•Families could continue to choose any high school in SFUSD
•Younger siblings would have priority to attend the same school as older siblings
•Students would not be assigned based on geographic location
•Students participating in language program who wanted to continue in that language at a certain high school would be given priority
•Maximize school integration
•Balance enrollment

Source: SFUSD


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