Monday, March 8, 2010

SFUSD press release: Vote Imminent on New Student Assignment System

Vote Imminent on New Student Assignment System
for San Francisco Schools

March 5, 2010 (San Francisco) - This Tuesday, March 9 at the San Francisco Board of
Education’s regularly scheduled meeting, the Board is expected to take action on a new policy on student assignment. These recommendations would replace the current system with a new system that primarily uses a family’s home address and their school requests to assign students.

Superintendent Carlos Garcia says this is just one part of a multi-part strategy in the district’s strategic plan to make sure every school is a quality school.

“The more we studied this issue, the more we realized how complex it is. Urban districts across the country are grappling with the same issues and no one has figured out the perfect assignment system. We’ve been fortunate to work with some very knowledgeable people from across the nation in developing this new system and I’m hopeful that it will help move us closer to our goals,” says Garcia.

Last month, after several years of gathering data and community input on the topic, the Superintendent submitted a specific proposal for first reading to the Board of Education. On February 17th and February 24th, the Board of Education held public meetings to discuss his recommendations. From these discussions adjustments were made to the initial proposal.

Unlike the current system, the new system would be applied in different ways at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Families would be able to choose from all schools in the city and, when a school has more requests than available seats, the proposed system would have a new series of preferences which aim to meet the Board’s goals of reversing the trend of racial isolation and the concentration of underserved students in the same school; providing equitable access to the range of opportunities offered to students; and providing transparency at every stage of the assignment process.

At all grade levels, the assignment system would take into consideration the census tract area in which a student lives. Standardized test score data would be computed for each combined census tract, and those combined census tracts would be divided into quintiles based on average scores. In the policy this preference is called Census Tract Integration Preference “CTIP1” and “CTIP2”. CTIP1 tracts would be the quintile with the lowest average CST scores, and CTIP2 tracts would be the four remaining quintiles.

Following adoption of this Student Assignment Policy, SFUSD staff would develop
administrative regulations, which includes working out several details, including the number of school choices a family can submit. The superintendent would conduct an annual assessment of the student assignment system.

The new policy would take several years to fully implement and would begin with students entering transitional grades in Fall 2011. Here is how the majority of school assignments for Kindergarten, sixth and ninth grade would take place under the proposed new system.

Elementary Schools Families would submit an application form that includes their home address and the names of the schools they would like to apply to listed in order of preference -- the assignment process would try to assign students to their highest ranked school. All applications would be processed at the same time, and all applicants would receive a single assignment offer. Students would be assigned to schools using the preferences listed in order below; students who are not assigned
to one of their choices would be assigned to their attendance area school if it still has openings after the choice process, or to the school closest to where they live that has openings.

1. Siblings - younger siblings of students who are enrolled in and would be attending the school during the year for which the younger sibling requests attendance.
2. SFUSD PreK - students who live in the attendance area of the school and are also
attending an SFUSD PreK program in the same attendance area.
3. CTIP1-students who reside in CTIP1 census tracts.
4. Attendance Area - students who live in the attendance area of the school.
5. Densely populated attendance areas - students who live in attendance areas that do not have sufficient capacity to accommodate all the students living in the attendance area.
6. All other students.

Middle School
All elementary schools would feed into a particular middle school. At the beginning of the enrollment process, SFUSD fifth graders would receive an initial assignment offer to a middle school based on the elementary school they attend. Students would have an opportunity to accept their initial assignment or participate in a choice process. Students who participate in the choice process would maintain their initial assignment unless they get an assignment to a higher ranked choice. Students would be assigned to schools using the following order of preferences:

1. Initial assignment – students who received an initial assignment to attend that school.
2. Siblings - younger siblings of students who are enrolled in and will be attending the school during the year for which the younger sibling requests attendance.
3. CTIP1 - students who reside in CTIP1 census tracts.
4. Attendance Area -students who live in the attendance area of the school.
5. Densely populated attendance areas - students who live in attendance areas that do not have sufficient capacity to accommodate all the students living in the attendance area.
6. All other students.

High School
Families would submit an application form that includes their home address and the names of the schools they would like to apply to listed in order of preference -- the assignment system would try to assign students to their highest ranked school. All applications would be processed at the same time, and all applicants will receive a single assignment offer. Students would be assigned to schools using the preferences listed in order below; students who are not assigned to one of their choices would be assigned to their attendance area school if it still has openings after the choice process, or to the school closest to where they live that has openings.

1. Siblings - younger siblings of students who are enrolled in and will be attending the school during the year for which the younger sibling requests attendance.
2. CTIP1 - students who reside in CTIP1 census tracts.
3. All other students.

Although every family would have an attendance area school, some elementary/K-8 schools would not have an attendance area and would not offer a local preference to students – these are called city-wide schools.

For more information about how students would be assigned to city-wide schools as well as language and special education programs, go to www.sfusd.edu/studentassignmentredesign.

13 comments:

  1. Middle School prodedure (an interpretation)
    1. initial assignment. This means middle schools have selected elementary schools as its feeder schools?
    2. siblings. The choice process starts.
    3. census tract integration preference. If a CTIP2 wants to go to CTIP1, sure, but, most typically a CTIP1 will try to go to CTIP2. (CTIP1 is now the bottom 20% only, but the bottom 21% to 40%could still use some help--and will get it with (5) densely populated attendance area preference.)
    4. attendance area. Local preference at work here, but the middle school attendance area could be non-contiguous and not governed by proximity.
    5. densely populated attendance area. A consolation prize given to the bottom 21% to 40% who got moved out of CTIP1 into CTIP2.
    6. All others.

    ReplyDelete
  2. San Francisco is bleeding. Middle class families are moving out to cheaper, user friendlier suburban communities with rational school policies. The new twist on the failed policies of the last 25 years, that is likely to be adopted tomorrow, is not going to stem the tide with its preferences, school reclassifications, flexible boundaries, built in flux and other complexities. It is NOT a neighborhood schools policy (with the possible exception of middle school) because it provides little by way of a guarantee. Some people will never trust their children's education to a lottery if they have a way out.

    A quick look at SF demographics over the last quarter century shows black, white and Latino middle class families exiting in mass or turning to private schools. For example, the white population is 45.6% of the city, but represents only 10.1% of SFUSD students.

    The numbers vividly illustrate a thumbs down for SFUSD public education. The district, which had 92,000 students at one time, now has 55,000. The total population hasn't changed. Families leave the City or public education for private, voting with their feet. We have the lowest child ratio of any city in America. SFUSD's family unfriendly policies are among the main causes of this flight.

    San Francisco cannot continue to repel all middle classes and be a diversified school district. With over 55% low SES it is already numerically impossible to keep schools below the targeted 40% SES goal without some far above it. That will only become less likely as the exodus continues.

    We need to radically reform budgeting and policy to increase student achievement across all sectors by:

    1. moving money into classrooms where it belongs,
    2. geographically diversifying experienced high performing teachers,
    3. providing equitable programming across the district
    4. cancelling programs that are unaccountable and non performing
    5. lengthening school hours

    If you like what SFUSD has delivered over the years, the assignement system soon to be adopted will give you more of the same. If you want neighborhood schools with choice and an emphasis on creating good schools in every neighborhood, vote in November for the measure supported by "Students First".

    ReplyDelete
  3. The new student assignment system for middle school students is a vote of no confidence in the safety of Muni for 6th graders.

    Also, when push comes to shove, protecting union jobs outweighs parental choice. If the district is going to ask the unions for concessions, the district had better have cut everything that did not involve large numbers of union jobs. Thus, cut bus service before cutting school site personnel. (There are bus drivers, but fewer salaries are at stake when bus service is reduced.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. My one and a half million dollar home is in the dark green! Excellent!

    ReplyDelete
  5. So the K process will remain just as stressful and uncertain (especially to those living in the west of the city who live at the wrong zip code) and will screw with a MS system that seems to be fine as it is?

    ReplyDelete
  6. 6:43 am, you should be thrilled that your expensive house is in the dark green. that means you get priority and your pick of schools. good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. If in fact middle school placement is determined initially by where the child currently attends elementary school I think that could have a really positive effect on middle school enrollment. I for one would be far more likely to take my chances at a less popular middle school if I knew that my 6th grader was going in with 50-60 of his current classmates.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What about the middle school zone children who went to an alternative elementary school outside the zone. Are they just out of luck?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Why wouldn't they just be assigned to whatever middle school for which their current elementary school is a feeder. So, if I live in the Richmond, but attend an alternative or out of zone school in the sunset I follow those kids off to whatever school my current elementary school is assigned. In the subsequent choice round, I have a slight priority to get back into a middle school in my assignment zone.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love it, there is a complaint that you want priority in your neighborhood MS when you purposefully sent your child out of your neighborhood for ES. Really? Come on, you got your 'pick' for ES, you obviously don't mind driving your child across town so why should we accomidate you over people who like the neighborhood school?

    (Except for an all out free for all, and even there are arguments that would not be fair, SOMEONE has to get top priority, and therefore someone will complain)

    ReplyDelete
  11. If you are referring to me, I did not enter the lottery for an alternative school for my children. I was making a hypothetical. If are parent chose to go to an alternative school out of the zone, why should they necessarily lose a zone preference for middle school 7 years later?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Why should they have greater priority at a local middle school than a child who has been attending school within that zone for 7 years? Obviously it's a little more difficult for the parents already in the system who entered under a different system - which I am-, but in theory, if a family chooses an out-of-zone elementary school under the new system, they should have little to complain about when they follow that track to middle school. And, they do get a slight preference to return to their zone school in the choice round, right?

    ReplyDelete
  13. 9:10!

    I am happy!!!

    ReplyDelete