March 2023 Update

Progress update on SFUSD’s new elementary student assignment policy

SFUSD working to implement the new elementary student assignment policy

In a December 2018 Board Resolution, SFUSD’s Board of Education called for a new assignment system for elementary schools, predicated on greater predictability, transparency, accessibility to neighborhood options, equity, and a strong commitment to integrated schools. In the years since, staff have been working to develop and implement the new policy, which is scheduled to begin in the 2026-27 school year.

Why SFUSD is changing the student assignment process for elementary schools

San Francisco is one of the few urban school districts that currently uses a system of “district-wide choice,” in which families can apply to any of the elementary schools in the city. In the 12+ years since SFUSD introduced the district-wide choice system, we’ve seen that system create many challenges for students, families, and schools. The new student assignment process is being designed to increase predictability and proximity for families, while promoting diverse and integrated learning environments that support all students.

New assignment policy overview

There are three features of the new policy:

  1. Zones
    • Overview: Zones are a way to help strengthen connections between schools and families living nearby. Families can choose from the 10-12 schools in their zone, but will only be allowed to apply to schools outside of their zone to access specific language or special education pathways.
    • Update: Staff have been working with research partners to develop zones that balance SFUSD’s goals. Right now, we are getting input from city partners and parent advisory groups about how to improve draft zones before the next round of community engagement and decision-making in 2024. 
  2. Diversity Categories
    • Overview: Diversity Categories help promote diverse enrollment at each school. Each student is associated with a category based on the aggregate characteristics of their neighborhood. After SFUSD gets everyone’s applications, we will first try to assign students in a way that helps our schools reflect the city’s diversity.
    • Update: Staff are working with research partners to simulate different versions of diversity categories, so that district leaders can review the recommended details this year.
  3. Tiebreakers, including the Equity Tiebreaker
    • Overview: The Equity Tiebreaker can help advance equitable access to schools and programs. The Equity Tiebreaker will replace the current CTIP1 tiebreaker, and will give priority to students living in underserved areas, or in federal public housing. SFUSD will continue using the current tiebreakers for siblings and for PreK students.
    • Update: Same as Diversity Categories! These two features both impact how families’ choices result in school assignments and enrollment decisions, so we are working on them both together.  

Find more information about the features of the new student assignment policy, and the work staff are continuing this year, in this presentation. Staff will provide more updates and multiple opportunities for the public to provide input as we get closer to the implementation date.

This page was last updated on July 19, 2023