Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Data: Private School Enrollment by Race and Ethnicity 2015-16

For families looking at private schools, here are two sources of detailed information on enrollment by race and by grade. The 2013 version of this post is here.

Enrollment by Race and Ethnicity

The Private School Universe Survey (PSS), conducted every 2 years by the US Department of Education, asks schools for information on enrollment by race and grade. The table below shows the trends in enrollment by race/ethnicity for schools with over 50 students.

Private School Enrollment by Race and Ethnicity, 2015-16

SCHOOL Source and
White Asian Latino African American Two or
more races
SF SCHOOL* website 2015-16 49% 51% students of color
PSS 2013-14 45% 20% 7% 9% 18%
website 2011 43% 29% 14% 15% -
SF FRIENDS website 2015-16 50% 50% students of color
PSS 2013-14 56% 9% 4% 3% 28%
PSS 2011-12 63% 7% 5% 1% 23%
CHILDREN'S DAY* website 2015-16 51% 49% students of color
PSS 2013-14 54% 8% 8% 2% 27%
PSS 2011-12 54% 9% 14% 1% 22%
SYNERGY website 2015-16 53% 47% students of color
PSS 2013-14 48% 5% 7% 6% 33%
PSS 2011-12 42% 34% 12% 4% 8%
PRESIDIO HILL* website 2015-16 54% 9% 8% 3% 21%
PSS 2013-14 52% 11% 7% 3% 27%
PSS 2011-12 67% 5% 9% 4% 14%
LIVE OAK website 2015-16 57% 43% students of color
PSS 2013-14 68% 2% 3% 3% 22%
PSS 2011-12 71% 4% 4% 3% 18%
HAMLIN website 2015-16 60% 40% families of color
PSS 2013-14 64% 10% 3% 5% 18%
PSS 2011-12 61% 10% 1% 3% 24%
CATHEDRAL website 2015-16 62% 38% students of color
PSS 2013-14 66% 7% 3% 8% 16%
PSS 2011-12 76% 9% 4% 6% 5%
SF DAY website 2015-16 65% 35% students of color
PSS 2013-14 59% 11% 3% 4% 22%
PSS 2011-12** 63% 8% 3% 4% 23%
ADDA CLEVENGER    website 2015-16 info on race/ethnicity not given
PSS 2013-14 66% 4% 12% 2% 17%
PSS 2011-12 69% 11% 9% 9% -
BURKE website 2015-16 70% 30% students of color
PSS 2013-14 65% 15% 3% 2% 15%
PSS 2011-12 67% 14% 5% 2% 12%
TOWN website 2015-16 info not given**
PSS 2013-14 75% 14% 5% 4% 2%
PSS 2011-12 70% 16% 6% 5% -
KITTREDGE website 2015-16 info not given
PSS 2013-14 83% 10% 5% -   -  
PSS 2011-12 83% 10% 5% - -
MARIN PREP*** website 2015-16 not given
Recruiting brochure for Head of School
90% 10% students of color
BRANDEIS-HILLEL website 2015-16 not given
PSS 2013-14 91% - 1% 1% 6%
PSS 2011-12 91% -1% 1%  6%
Source: Private School Universe Survey, National Center for Education Statistics.

* The Private School Universe Survey (PSS) does not include preschool/transitional kindergarten enrollment. Schools with preschool/TKs may include those students in race/ethnicity percentages on their websites. (ie SF School, Presidio Hill, Children's Day).
** Town reports 36% from "diverse families," not broken out by race, LGBT or family structure. 
*** Marin Prep, which did not participate in PSS, was included after finding data elsewhere online. 
**** Alta Vista did not provide information on student race/ethnicity to PSS.

Some notes on the table above:

The higher the percentage of white students, the less information schools tend to give about their racial/ethnic enrollment.

 There are exceptions, but a rule of thumb is that if a school doesn't provide info about racial/ethnic enrollment on their website, it's probably over 70% white.

Trends over time matter.
Since most incoming students are kindergarteners, shifts in the overall racial/ethnic composition of a school are concentrated in the lower grades. For example, both SF School and SF Friends School are about 50% white overall, but the trends over time are in opposite directions, suggesting significant differences in the racial/ethnic composition of their kindergarten and 1st grades.

San Francisco Day School's enrollment went to 35% students of color this year, after being stable at 40% students of color since at least 2012. Five percent is a large change for a K-8 since kindergarten is only 11% of total enrollment.  This suggests kindergarten enrollment that was almost all white for 2015-16 and/or higher attrition for students of color in upper grades last year. Another possibility is a change in reporting/definition of student of color.


Students of color does not equal parents of color.

A significant proportion of Asian, Latino and African-American children at the more expensive private schools are adopted or multiracial. Parents of color looking for a community of other parents of color, take note. At one popular school 3 years ago, of 3 Asian kindergarteners, two were adopted and the other was biracial. Does this mean there was only 1 Asian parent for the entire kindergarten class? On the other hand, this can be a big draw for multiracial and adoptive families.


Staff of color does not equal teachers of color.

Many school websites give the percentage of staff of color. This may not reflect who interacts with students on a regular basis. For example, it may include the development director, janitor, IT, or (gasp!) the admissions director. Some schools try to have at least one teacher of color in each grade.  Others aim for equal numbers of male and female teachers, or Spanish-speaking teachers. If this is important to you, browsing school faculty directories can be useful.

The data is self-reported by schools, so take it with a grain of salt.  For example, Chinese American International School (CAIS) reported that they had exactly 50 students per grade for K-8, and no biracial/multiracial students (none!) on the PSS survey.

Enrollment by Grade

California requires private schools to submit information on enrollment by grade, staffing and religious affiliation. The California Department of Education compiles the information every year into the California Private School Directory.

Private School Enrollment by Grade, 2014-15

School K12345678UngradedK-8
Adda Clevenger 14 17 12 12 16 15 23 11 24 - 145
Alta Vista 44 29 32 30 17 17 - - - - 169
Brandeis Hillel 43 35 44 45 51 41 44 43 45 - 391
Brightworks 5 3 - 2 8 8 4 7 7 - 44
Burke 45 43 46 46 45 45 49 36 47 - 402
Cathedral 24 24 24 25 24 35 36 35 36 - 263
Children's Day 47 44 43 46 35 42 35 17 24 - 333
Chinese American (CAIS) 61 63 54 56 54 45 41 40 36 - 450
French American (K-12) 77 76 73 72 70 67 65 66 63 - 629
Hamlin 50 43 47 44 45 46 47 46 45 - 405
Kittredge 6 7 8 7 7 10 11 10 15 - 81
La Scuola 20 9 10 1 - - - - - - 40
Live Oak 44 24 23 24 23 24 38 53 37 - 290
Lycee Francais 54 58 57 57 55 53 72 56 58
Marin Prep 30 19 9 - - - - - - - 58
Presidio Hill 17 17 18 16 18 19 32 25 27 - 189
Presidio Knolls 43 32 16 - - - - - - - 91
Russian American Int'l/
SF Pacific Academy
12 10 12 5 10 0 11 3 0 - 63
SF Day 44 44 43 47 44 40 42 44 45 - 393
SF Friends 44 44 44 45 43 50 57 54 55 - 436
SF School 24 20 21 22 21 23 31 32 32 - 226
SF Waldorf (K-12) 67 29 23 21 30 28 30 29 23 - 280
Stratford 55 43 30 33 17 17 - - - - 195
Synergy 24 19 18 18 21 22 23 25 21 - 191
Town 47 46 46 43 43 46 45 44 48 - 408
Source: Private School Directory, California Department of Education

Declining enrollment going from K to 8 in language immersion schools (CAIS, FAIS).

It's harder for language immersion schools to fill spots in the upper grades because new students at the school must be at grade level in both English and the immersion language. This can lead to a stituation where middle school enrollments can become smaller instead of larger, at an age when many students are developmentally ready for a bigger pond. In the past, CAIS has accepted SFUSD Mandarin immersion K-5 "grads" to their middle school.

Still working on SFUSD enrollment data...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Are You Submitting a Kindergarten Application to SFUSD? General Thoughts on Building a List

SFUSD applications for the 2016-2017 school year are due January 15, 2016.
This may be late as many folks might have already turned in their SFUSD application, but we received a few questions from a reader who wanted to understand the lottery better. Parents for Public Schools has great resources to help parents understand the enrollment process--and they respond to questions very quickly! But here's a bit of background info and some suggestions on building a list. Please add your suggestions in the comments.

How Does the Lottery Work? 
Parents for Public Schools does a great job of explaining this. Basically, as we understand it, the computer does a little lottery for every school, with whatever tiebreakers apply (tiebreakers include sibling, CTIP, attendance area, etc). So, for citywide schools (i.e. Alice Fong Yu, Rooftop, etc.), there is no attendance area lottery. Spots fill up first with siblings and CTIP, the pre-K kids if applicable, and then all others. Race does not factor into the current system. Language proficiency would factor in with the language immersion programs. It all gets pretty complicated

For attendance area schools, spots will fill up with first with siblings, CTIP and attendance area students (each by a little lottery among those people), and then by lottery among all other comers. Some schools have a fair number of spots left over for folks that don't fit into one of those categories (Rosa Parks GE is one, I believe). Some schools fill up entirely with siblings, CTIP and attendance area folks (Clarendon and Grattan are good examples). 

Now, you might find a stray student who doesn't fit into one of these categories at a school like Clarendon or Grattan as well. Why is that? Does that mean there weren't enough attendance area folks who wanted spots at the school? No. There's a funny part of the lottery algorithm called the swap, also known as trading cycles. At the end of the first round, as the computer is assigning families, it will make sure there are no cases where students would be actually happier with each other's choices. For instance, if a family has Miraloma as their tentative assignment but it was their 5th choice and they would prefer Claire Lilienthal Korean Immersion and there's another family that listed the Korean immersion program 11th on their list but would prefer Miraloma, that's a case where each family would be happier. If the second family won a spot in Korean immersion, the computer would swap them. Even if the second family is not in the Miraloma attendance area, they would find themselves with a Miraloma assignment in Round 1--even though there are Miraloma attendance area families who might not have gotten a spot.  

Should I List the Schools In the Order I Want Them?
YES. As we described above, the lottery is actually a whole bunch of lotteries--one for each school or program. So it's possible you could "win" a spot at multiple schools; in that case, the computer will assign you to whichever you have listed first. That's why it's important to list the schools in the order you want them. We have heard people say, "I knew we would never get Clarendon so I didn't put it as my first choice." That doesn't really make sense (at least as far as we can figure out--if anyone knows different, please comment). If it's your first choice, put it first. One thing to know is you have to list your attendance area school somewhere if you want it (you will NOT be assigned there as a default).

Should I Make a Long List? 
YES. It seems like the biggest tip most parents share after they have gone through the lottery is to make a long list in Round 1 (at least 30-40). Why? A couple of reasons. Once you stop listing, you are saying to SFUSD that all of the other schools are equal to you. 
If you know your attendance area school is not popular and you'd be fine with it, this is probably less of an issue. But it also can't hurt to make a long list. We've heard people say, "But if I put down Rosa Parks, then I might get it". Yes (and Rosa Parks is a lovely school), but if you only put 7 or 10 schools, you might not get any school you've heard of, and the one assigned to you might be super far away. The second reason to make a long list is because you might find a school you haven't toured is a good fit. You never know. 

Should I List Schools I Don't Want? 
MAYBE. There is an advantage to putting popular citywide schools on your list even if you don't want them, because as described above the algorithm will "swap" families who would prefer each other's first tentative assignment (this is the school the computer assigns first, not what you get in your first letter from SFUSD). But you should probably only list schools you don't really want if you are making a long list. Otherwise you might end up with a school you don't want. 

I'm sure readers will have more suggestions below!

Monday, December 7, 2015

SFUSD Application Deadlines Coming Up

If you are looking to enter your child in the SFUSD assignment system, applications for most schools and grades are due on January 15, 2016. Remember, as SFUSD states on their website:

Please note that you must submit an application to be assigned to a school. Students are not automatically assigned to a school without an enrollment application, nor will students be automatically assigned to a school in their elementary school attendance area. 

Applications for Lowell High School are due December 11, 2015.

Applications can be dropped off at the Educational Placement Center. Here's their information:

555 Franklin Street, Room 100
Tel: 415-241-6085
Fax: 415-241-6087
Office Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Due to staff professional development, EPC will open at 10:00 AM on every 3rd Friday of the month.

Here's a link to what you need to apply:

We also received some information about alternate locations to drop off enrollment forms for SFUSD:
  • Permanent Satellite Collection Site: Leola Havard Early Education School, 1520 Oakdale Avenue, 94124, 8:30AM - 2:40PM
  • Tuesday, January 12, 2016: West Portal Elementary School, 5 Lenox Way, 94127, 4-7 pm
  • Wednesday, January 13, 2016: Sutro Elementary School, 235 12th Avenue, 94118, 4-7 pm
More information can be found in this year's Enrollment Guide (also available in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog): 

Questions? Want to share your list with other parents? Let us know in the comments.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What the new law means for vaccine opt out rates

A bit off-topic, but some parents may be interested in this and there seem to be some misconceptions about the recent law changes in California, so if you have strong feelings about immunizations (whether you want to avoid them or avoid people who avoid them), then read on.

[Caveat, let's not turn the comments into a giant debate between those for and against vaccines. Many other forums for that. Let's just try to give parents information they can use to make better choices of schools relative to whatever views they may have.]

Background: CA previously allowed opt-out of vaccination requirements for students attending schools, called Personal Belief Exemptions, or PBE. But a recent law makes it harder to opt-out. There are subtle details though.

First, current PBE rates for all schools in CA (public and private) can be found here (at the bottom of an article about recent overall trends in the rates):
Search for any string and all matching schools will be displayed in decreasing opt-out rate order. Just put in San Francisco for example to find the schools with the highest PBE rates in the city.

Second, two helpful links I found to help understand the recent law change and how it is being implemented:

My quick read is that existing exemptions are grandfathered: Anyone with an exemption on file by Jan 1, 2016 gets to avoid vaccination until they hit 7th grade (if they are in K already) and now that everyone knows the law is passed, they still have time to get new PBEs through the end of 2015. In addition, these grandfathered PBEs appear to be transferable school to school within California.

This means that PBE rates won't go down quickly at those elementary schools where they are already high---only slowly as new kids enter each year. And in fact, kids in kindergarten now will remain in the cohort that can have the highest PBE rates for the longest (since they won't hit 7th grade for many years).

It's worth also noting, since many people might not be aware, that many Waldorf schools (which typically have the highest PBE rates) consider "kindergarten" to be 2-years starting with 4-year-olds (the year that most other schools would consider the final year of preschool). Thus, this year's Waldorf 4-year-old K cohorts may have high PBE %s for 7 more years.

For families applying for kindergarten for next fall, it will be very hard to avoid vaccinating. Home schooling might be the easiest route to avoid it. (If homeschooling can be considered easy!)