Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hot topic: Assignment process

During the 2008-09 school year, SFUSD will redesign the student assignment system for 2010-11.

If you have ideas to share about the student assignment redesign, please email them to:

Also, there will be time for comments from the public at the Board of Education Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment on Thursday, February 12th, 2009 @ 6pm in the Irving G. Breyer Board Room at 555 Franklin Street.

In the meantime -- what do you think SFUSD should do to improve the student assignment system?


  1. I would like a guarantee that we would get one of our 7 schools listed, but I am unsure how they can make this guarantee when a large percentage of families apply to the same 7 "top schools". It is the uncertainty, the fear that my daughter will be assigned a school clear across town that bothers me. I would not mind a neighborhood school, but of course I live in a neighborhood with many great schools - I do not believe a neighborhood school system in SF is fair or feasible...

  2. At least in elementary school, it's pretty rare that if you didn't get one of your seven choices that you would be assigned to a school clear across town. EPC assigns you to the closest school to your home with openings. This year in my neighborhood (Glen Park), many people were assigned to Junipero Serra, a school that is actually very close, just not on most people's radar. People who toured it after round one sounded generally positive about it, but I don't know how many ultimately ended up there after round 2 and the waitpool. I had never really heard anything about this school until last spring on this blog. Now, by coincidence, my 6th grader has become friends with several very nice girls from Junipero Serra at her middle school. Funny how that works.



  3. I went to the last meeting and watched the previous one on YouTube. It was clear that the BoE is getting tired of this issue, but they're in a bind between legal issues, a vocal group of parents and some practicalities of SF.

    It's pretty clear that they will decide on a hybrid system that combines both attendance zone and a city-wide lottery. Families within an attendance zone will probably get more ping pong balls than those outside a zone.

    Will they keep the diversity index? Will it be more transparent? That remains to be seen.

    I took the VP Kim's and the board members statements that they're pretty much done with policy discussions and that they want to move forward with an analysis of the various models. So my e-mail suggestion was much more mundane because I think that the attendance zone map and the transportation infrastructure to support moving kids around the City will have a significant influence on the practicality and success of the new system.

    Here's what I sent:

    I have two suggestions for the development of a new student assignment system:

    * The district should update its outdated attendance zone map to reflect school closures and changing population densities.

    * The district should develop a transportation plan in parallel to the new student assignment system. The transportation plan should be based on routes and schedules that are practical and affordable.

    Both of these suggestions are necessary to create a fair, workable and affordable assignment system and they directly feed into the model-based approach under review by the BoE.

  4. Ha! That's what they say every year! We've been waiting for four years for them to redesign it.

  5. Good ideas 2:54 PM

    1) Enrollment process should be modernized to allow electronic applications after proof-of-residency paperwork is approved (like Camp Mather lottery).

    2) Siblings enrollment should occur in the fall (Sept. - Nov.) at each school. On Dec. 1, the district should release the sibling enrollment numbers, so that parents can make informed decisions when they list their 7 choices. Getting sibling information on Dec. 1 gives parents time to tour a few more schools before they must turn in their forms.

    3) Language testing for immersion programs should occur Sept. - Dec., before parents turn in their forms, so that they know how their child will be categorized (i.e., "fluent" or "bilingual" in target language). If child is "English only" or "ELL," then they merely check a box--no testing required. For example, a 5-year old from Mexico, speaking only Spanish, would be "fluent" for a Spanish-immersion program, but "ELL" for all other programs (Gen. Ed., Chinese, etc.). No language, other than target language for an immersion program, would matter on the application (i.e., no loop holes for speaking German or Tagalog at home).

    4) Parents of twins, triplets, etc., need assurance that all their children will get into same school with the same odds as a single-child family.

  6. Good ideas!

    I've spoke to other parents with twins and they say the EPC was able to link their kids' apps together so there was not a problem for their kids to get in same school.

    OT - can anyone imagine the octuplet lady -- placing her kids in a school? those kids would take up nearly half of one class.

    As for English ELL -- ELL should only be a factor for immersion or bilingual programs. Otherwise no consideration given if you are a ELL student or not. Thus no loophole for the German native speaker, Spanish native speaker (unless applying for the Bilingual program, sorry German kid, no such special program for you), Swahili speaker, etc.

    Consideration should be given to families based on income levels, such as Free Lunch (under 39K for family of 4), or Section 8, or kids without homes (shelter kids).

    The living conditions, income level of family make a much bigger difference in outcome. The language we have found, created a loophole that way too many have taken advantage of...

    A child coming from a well educated parents who are native German (pick any language) speakers (but who also speak English well and have a good paying job here) will do well in any school, so why give them a leg up on the language issue. Its the educational level of the parents, the social/home environment that will probably be the driving factors.