SFUSD board delays vote on policy to amend student assignment process 

The San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education will postpone a vote Tuesday on whether to give kindergarten students living in attendance areas priority to enroll in schools rather than students who live in neighborhoods with the lowest test scores.

The current Census Tract Integration Preference student assignment policy, which took effect in 2010 to select sites for the 2011-12 school year, seeks to reduce the academic achievement gap and reverse the trend of racial isolation. However, some contend that after three years there is no evidence the policy supports that objective.

The argument, according to the resolution, is that residents of areas with higher-demand schools might have less access to educational opportunities than families living in CTIP areas — the 20 percent of census tracts in San Francisco with the lowest average scores on the California Standards Test.

Additionally, less sought-after schools could draw on a wider range of students if those in CTIP areas do not apply to schools outside their attendance area.

According to SFUSD data from March, 87 percent of kindergarten applicants for the 2015-16 school year received one of their choice schools. The district has reported that each year about 15 percent of families applying for kindergarten placement in SFUSD do not receive any of their choices in the first round of the student assignment process.

Commissioner Rachel Norton, who introduced the resolution nearly a year ago with Commissioner Sandra Fewer, said ultimately the goal for the current and proposed policies is to ensure all students have equal access to schools.

“If you limit choice out of some of these areas, what are you offering people?” said Norton. “Do you look at it as in you need to keep people in their local schools…or give people access to higher performing schools in other locations?”

Norton said the board will postpone its vote to consider amendments discussed by the committee on student assignment April 13, including to make a deeper commitment to program improvements at schools with concentrations of underserved students and a track record of low performance.

A new date for the vote has not been set.

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for Patch.com, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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