SFUSD explores new elementary school student assignment policy

Laura Dudnick
Oct 18 · 2 min read

The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is revising its policy for how elementary school students are assigned to public schools in the City.

In December 2018, the Board of Education passed Resolution 189–25A1 Developing a Community Based Student Assignment System, which began the process of developing a recommendation for a revised Student Assignment Policy. Throughout the 2019–20 school year SFUSD will host a series of public meetings with the Board’s Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment as well as a series of community engagement events with the goal of developing a revised elementary school Student Assignment Policy by June 2020.

Currently, SFUSD offers a full choice system, and families may apply to any elementary school in the District. Families submit a ranked list of choices, and students are placed in their highest requested school as long as there are openings. If there are more requests for a school than openings, the student assignment process uses a series of preferences to ensure that all students are equitably assigned to schools. Students who do not get assigned to a requested school because there is not enough space are offered the school closest to where they live that has space.

The current policy, which took effect for the 2011–12 school year, is intended to reverse the trend of racial isolation and the concentration of underserved students in the same school; provide equitable access to the range of opportunities offered to students; and provide transparency at every stage of the process.

Despite these well-intentioned efforts, the Board determined last year that the policy is not working as intended. In their 2018 resolution, the Board listed a number of concerns with the current system, including that it has not reversed the trend of racial isolation, is complicated for families to navigate, and isn’t predictable or transparent enough. The board stated that any new policy will be predicated on greater predictability, transparency, accessibility to neighborhood options, equity, and a strong commitment to integrated schools.

In developing a recommendation for a revised policy, this fall SFUSD will develop definitions, goals, priorities, a theory of action, and different policy options. In spring 2020, community input will help staff form a policy recommendation, which is scheduled to go to the Board of Education for a vote in June 2020. If a new policy is adopted in June 2020, it would likely go into effect for students enrolling in kindergarten for the Fall of 2022.

To stay up to date and participate throughout the policy development process, be sure to visit www.sfusd.edu/studentassignment.

Laura Dudnick

Written by

Laura Dudnick writes about public schools for the San Francisco Unified School District.

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