What We Have Learned About SFUSD Student Assignment This Year

The PPS-SF #BoardWatch program spent the past school year monitoring reports and updates on the current student assignment process. Although no formal changes will be implemented at this time, there was a suggestion by the SFUSD enrollment group to remove the "transfer" process. 

The year was billed by the SFUSD Board of Education as a "listening and learning" year regarding student assignment policy. Five ad hoc assignment committee meetings took place, in which Board members heard and discussed various perspectives on how the student assignment system has been working and what changes commissioners might formally propose in the next school year. 

SFUSD created a web page to house the presentations and other materials from the meetings. We recommend taking a look at some of those materials if you are interested in getting up to speed on the history of the student assignment system, various alternatives that have been considered in the past, and current challenges.

SFUSD Website Link to Ad Hoc Student Assignment Committee Materials

If you are short on time, we recommend reading these items:

  1. Discussion summary of 9/21/16 meeting on history and priorities of assignment system
  2. Presentation modeling what enrollment patterns might look like under a "neighborhood schools" model
  3. Presentation on middle school feeders, language pathways, and special education
  4. Recommendations on enrollment changes presented by the African American Parent Advisory Council (AAPAC)
  5. Final discussion on recommendations for moving forward 

No immediate changes will be made to the current student assignment system, but there was consensus that the current system is not doing its job of meeting SFUSD aims of diversity, equity, and transparency. 

At this point, PPS-SF does not have any formal position or recommendations on changes to the assignment system.

However, we want to hear feedback on a possible short-term change recommended to the ad hoc committee. The change would be to remove what is called the "transfer" process, which is commonly called "trading up" in the parent community. This is the part of the enrollment process where school assignments are swapped between participants to try to give participants their highest ranked choice. 

Per the final discussion report, this impacts 5% of families who enroll in kindergarten, and is met with mixed feedback. 

Pros of keeping the transfer: It maximizes school choice. Doesn't change outcomes for people who don't get pulled for any schools in first rounds of the lottery. 

Pros of removing the transfer: Creates inequitable feeling for students who live in an attendance area and do not get the attendance area school. Favors parents who understand the system and list many choices. 

What do you think? 

Note: PPS-SF conducted a short poll on this issue, which has now been turned off. You are welcome to give feedback in the comments or to send an email to info@ppssf.org with "Transfer" in the subject line.