School Rules Change in the City

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010  |  Updated 10:45 AM PDT
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The San Francisco Unified School District's Board of Education  unanimously approved Tuesday a new policy that will change the way students are assigned to the city's public schools.
     
The board voted 7-0 in favor of the new system that will go into  effect in 2011 and simplify the previous system, with the location of the student's home playing a larger role in deciding what school they will  attend.

The previous system, which has been in place since 2002, uses a  lottery process that takes several factors into account, including parent choice, whether the child has a sibling at the school, and the socioeconomic  diversity of the school.

District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said today that the new system is "still a form of the lottery system" but "is going to be much simpler."

Factors such as whether students were in extreme poverty, their  English language proficiency, and the academic performance of their previous school will no longer play a role in the school selection, Blythe said.

The new assignment process will be applied in different ways for  elementary, middle and high school students.

At all grade levels, the system will consider which census tract  area a student lives in, and standardized test score data for each area will factor into the school selection.

Families for students entering elementary and high schools will  submit an application form that only includes their home address and the names of schools they would like to apply to, and the assignment process will try to assign them to their highest-ranked school.

The ranking system will not automatically apply to students  entering middle school. All elementary schools will feed into a particular middle school, but students have an opportunity to accept that initial assignment or participate in the choice process.

Some details of the system, such as how many schools parents will  be allowed to apply to, and the attendance areas for each school, still have to be determined by the district, Blythe said.

"The goals of this system are to continue to diversify our schools  and decrease the population of underserved students in one school," she said. "We want academic diversity as well as other kinds of diversity."

An in-depth description of the student assignment system is  available at the district's Web site, www.sfusd.edu.

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