San Francisco middle school placement ready to go for 2017-18 

San Francisco students entering kindergarten in one of The City’s 72 public elementary schools by the 2017-18 school year will already know which middle school they will attend.

The proposed changes to the student assignment policy for middle schools, though, will not affect any students currently enrolled in San Francisco public schools.

For the past year, district officials have been working to create a predictable placement system that would assign students a place in a middle school when they first enroll in a city elementary school. The pathway this would create is known as a middle school feeder pattern.

Superintendent Carlos Garcia told the board of education at a meeting Tuesday evening that the district sees the creation of school feeder patterns as a way to provide all students equal access to programs, correct racial imbalances and create a sense of community from kindergarten through eighth grade.

“Our current system is failing to address student success,” Garcia said. “Unfortunately you cannot expect a different outcome if we continue to do the same things.”

The proposal has sparked debate between families that see the benefits of feeder patterns and parents who still want a chance to choose what they perceive as the best schools. Currently, students are placed in a middle school based on a lottery system that requires parents to rank their preferences.

District officials hope to change parents’ views on school choice by first offering families the ability to apply to any middle school. If that school, however, has too many students applying for limited spots available, those students who attend an elementary school that will eventually feed into the middle school would get preference over other students. By the 2017-18 school year, fifth-grade students will automatically be placed into a particular middle school without the need to apply.

The district had considered offering set middle school assignments for fifth-graders as soon as the 2015-16 school year, but the plan was pushed back two years during Tuesday’s meeting.

The board of education is expected to vote on the middle- school pathway plan at the June 14 meeting.

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