Tiebreakers

About Tiebreakers

Tiebreakers are preferences used to place students in their requested school when the number of requests for that school is greater than the number of spaces available.

  • Requests may qualify for more than one tiebreaker. In that case, requests with the highest ranked tiebreakers preference are always assigned before requests with multiple lower ranked tiebreakers.
  • Random numbers will be used for school assignments if tiebreakers do not resolve ties, or if there are no tiebreakers.
  • Tiebreakers are not used for students applying to the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts (RASOTA) or Lowell High School. Learn how to apply for Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. Learn how to apply to Lowell High School
  • Students will be assigned to their highest ranked request as long as there is space at the school.​​ 

New for the 2024-25 school year: the attendance area tiebreaker will now be used for TK applications, so that TK assignments use the same tiebreakers as K-5. For more information about why SFUSD made this change, please visit sfusd.edu/tk. Also for the first time in 24-25, ALL applicants to their sibling’s school will qualify for the sibling tiebreaker, regardless of which sibling is younger or older.

Grade Level Tiebreakers
Elementary Attendance Area Schools

1. Sibling
2. PreK/TK Attendance Area
3. Test Score Area (CTIP1)
4. Attendance Area 

Elementary Citywide Schools

1. Sibling
2. PreK/TK City-wide
3. Test Score Area (CTIP1)

Citywide Language Pathways

1. Language Pathway Sibling
2. Language Pathway
3. Sibling
4. Test Score Area (CTIP1)

Middle Schools

1. Sibling
2. Middle School Feeder
3. Bayview Elementary School to All Middle Schools
4. Test Score Area (CTIP1)

Middle Schools Language Pathways

1. Language Pathway Sibling
2. Language Pathway
3. Sibling
4. Middle School Feeder
5. Test Score Area (CTIP1)

Willie Brown Middle School

1. Sibling
2. Bayview
3. 94124
4. Test Score Area (CTIP1)

High Schools

1. Sibling
2. Willie Brown Middle School
3. Test Score Area (CTIP1)

    Tiebreakers

    Elementary Attendance Area Schools

    1. Sibling A sibling of a student who is enrolled in and will be attending the school.
    2. PreK/TK Attendance Area PreK or TK students who live in the attendance area of the school requested; and are enrolled in an SFUSD PreK or TK in the same attendance area of the requested school.
    3. Test Score Area (CTIP1) Students who live in areas of the city with the lowest average test scores.
    4. Attendance Area Elementary school students who live in the attendance area of the elementary school requested
    5. No tiebreakers Students who do not have a tie-breaker.

        Elementary Citywide Schools

        1. Sibling A sibling of a student who is enrolled in and will be attending the school.
        2. PreK/TK Citywide Incoming TK or kindergarten applicants who are already enrolled in PreK or TK at the Citywide school to which they are applying.
        3. Test Score Area (CTIP1) Students who live in areas of the city with the lowest average test scores.
        4. No tiebreakers Students who do not have a tiebreaker.

        Citywide Language Pathways

        1. Language Pathway Sibling Students who are enrolled in and want to continue in a multilingual language pathway; and they have a sibling who is enrolled in and will be attending the same program.
        2. Language Pathway Students who are enrolled in and want to continue in a multilingual language pathway.
        3. Sibling A sibling of a student who is enrolled in and will be attending the school.
        4. Test Score Area (CTIP1) Students who live in areas of the city with the lowest average test scores.
        5. No tie-breakers Students who do not have a tiebreaker.

        Middle Schools

        Middle School Tiebreakers

        1. Sibling A sibling of a student who is enrolled in and will be attending the school.
        2. Middle School Feeder Incoming 6th-grade students enrolled in an elementary school that is identified as a feeder for the requested middle school.
        3. Bayview Elementary School to All Middle Schools Incoming sixth-grade students who attended Carver, Drew, Harte or Malcolm X elementary schools from grades K through 5 and apply to any SFUSD middle school.
        4. Test Score Area (CTIP1) Students who live in areas of the city with the lowest average test scores.
        5. No tiebreakers Students who do not have a tiebreaker.

        Middle School Language Pathways

        1. Language Pathway Sibling Students who are enrolled in and want to continue in a multilingual language pathway; and they have a sibling who is enrolled in and will be attending the same program.
        2. Language Pathway Students who are enrolled in and want to continue in a multilingual language pathway.
        3. Sibling A sibling of a student who is currently enrolled in and will be attending the same school.
        4. Middle School Feeder Incoming 6th-grade students enrolled in an elementary school that is identified as a feeder for the requested middle school.
        5. Test Score Area (CTIP1) Students who live in areas of the city with the lowest average test scores.
        6. No tie-breakers Students who do not have a tiebreaker.

        Willie Brown Middle School

        1. Sibling A sibling of a student who is currently enrolled in and will be attending the same school.
        2. Bayview Students enrolled in Carver, Drew, Harte, or Malcolm X elementary schools who apply to Willie Brown Middle School.
        3. 94124 Students living in 94124 who apply to Willie Brown Middle School.
        4. Test Score Area (CTIP1) Students who live in areas of the city with the lowest average test scores.
        5. No tie-breakers Students who do not have a tiebreaker.

        High Schools

        1. Sibling A sibling of a student who is enrolled in and will be attending the school.
        2. Willie Brown Middle School Students applying to 9th grade who attended Willie Brown Middle School in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. This applies to all high schools requested except Ruth Asawa and Lowell, which have different enrollment policies.
        3. Test Score Area (CTIP1) Students who live in areas of the city with the lowest average test scores.
        4. No tiebreakers Students who do not have a tiebreaker.

        Definitions

        Siblings, Twins and Multiples

        How are siblings defined by SFUSD?

        Students who live at the same address and have the same parent/guardian are considered siblings.

        How does the sibling tiebreaker preference work?

        Applying siblings can be assigned to their enrolled sibling’s school if the enrolled sibling will still be attending during the upcoming school year, and if space is available. If placement in the enrolled sibling’s school is desired, we strongly recommend that you list the enrolled sibling’s school on the application form as your first choice. If you do not list the enrolled sibling’s school as the first choice, there is a possibility that the student will be placed in a different school. We also recommend that you list other schools also in the event there is a lack of space in the older sibling’s school.

        The purpose of the sibling priority is to assist families with multiple children to enroll their children in a school together, but placement is dependent on space being available at the requested school in the applying sibling's grade and program. We encourage you to list additional schools in the event that space is unavailable in the older sibling’s school or program.

        Beginning with the 2024-25 school year, the sibling tiebreaker will apply to any student who requests their sibling's school, regardless of the two siblings' respective ages. I.e. the applying sibling is eligible for the tiebreaker to their enrolled student's school, regardless of whether they are younger or older.

        Siblings who are applying for school at the same time for different grade levels cannot be guaranteed placement into the same school. There is a possibility that new siblings applying for school may be assigned to different schools based on space availability. Some families, in fact, choose to have the siblings attend different schools. There is no way we will know you desire to keep siblings together if different schools are listed in a different order of preference.

        How do I apply for twins and multiples

        If placement into the same school is desired for twins, triplets and multiples, each application should indicate the same school choices in the same order.

        The parent/guardian must indicate on the enrollment application check box that they wish to have their twins or multiples placed in the same school. When one twin is assigned to a choice school, the student assignment process will seek to place the other twin into the same school if space is available. If an assignment cannot be offered to one of the requested schools, then the twins will be assigned together into the school closest to home with openings as space allows.

        If you choose ‘No’ on the check box, then twins, triplets or multiples will go into the assignment process as individual students. In the event that multiples are separated in the assignment process, a sibling tie-breaker will be assigned to the sibling requesting placement into the other sibling’s school for any subsequent placement period.

        What happens if I check the “Yes” box on the enrollment application to have my twins assigned together?

        If you check the “yes” box, indicating that you want your twins to be assigned together, then the student assignment process will treat them initially as individual students in the computerized process. Once one twin receives a tentative assignment, the other twin will be linked with the sibling and the process will seek to assign the sibling to the school if space allows. If there is no space for the second twin, then neither twin will be assigned. If neither twin receives an assignment to any choice school, then both twins will be assigned to the school closest to home with two openings.

        What happens if I don’t check the “Yes” box on the enrollment application to have my twins assigned together?

        If you do not check the “yes” box indicating that you want your twins assigned together, they will go into the assignment process as individual students for the entire process. There will be a possibility that they may be separated in this process.

        What are my options if the twins are separated?

        The parent may submit an application form for the May Placement Period or Wait Pool Process for one twin to join the other. The twin will receive a sibling priority in the assignment process to join their sibling for any future openings. The assignment of a sibling is a higher priority after appeals, but can only be offered if there are openings at the school and program. There cannot be a guarantee that there will be openings to accommodate siblings.

        I want my twins assigned together, but I am concerned about getting a lower choice school, what are my options?

        Parents of twins and multiples must make a decision regarding how they want the twins’ assignment to work. Linking them together will ensure that they will be assigned together, but the trade-off will be that they both may be assigned to a lower choice or non-choice school.

        Having twins treated separately in the process may result in, but not guaranteed of, one or the other twin receiving an offer to a higher choice school.

        My twins are in a non-transitional grade (not TK, K, 6th or 9th) but I would like to transfer them both to another school. What are my options?

        Applying for and receiving an assignment into a school and program in a non-transitional grade is only limited to available openings since students presently attending are expected to promote to the next grade.

        It is recommended that parents of twins who want to transfer to another school or program check the “yes” box on the enrollment application so that the twins will only transfer if there are two seats available. Otherwise, there is a risk that one twin may be assigned and the other not. Once a twin receives a new assignment, they relinquish the former placement and there may be no opportunity to return.

        Attendance Areas

        What is an attendance area?

        Elementary attendance areas are geographic borders drawn around elementary schools throughout the district. Middle and high schools do not have attendance areas/geographical borders.

        How does my attendance area affect school placement?

        We create attendance areas so there can be a system of helping you get placement in your attendance area school if you wish. You are not required to choose your attendance area school, nor can you be guaranteed a placement at your attendance area school. Middle school students get an initial placement offer based on the elementary school they attend, regardless of where they live. If middle school students decide to choose different schools, they will get an attendance area tie-breaker based on where they live.

        Does every elementary school have an attendance area?

        No. City-wide schools and city-wide programs do not have an attendance area. To find your attendance area school, click here.

        How will the PreK/TK Attendance Area tie-breaker work?

        The PreK/TK Attendance Area tiebreaker applies for PreK or TK students who live in the attendance area of their requested school; AND are enrolled in an SFUSD preK or TK in the same attendance area. This tiebreaker can apply for current PreK students applying to TK or Kindergarten; and for current TK students applying to Kindergarten.

        Citywide Schools

        What does ‘citywide’ mean?

        City-wide means there is no attendance area, and as a result city-wide schools and programs do not provide a tie-breaker for students who live near the school.

        Which schools are citywide?

        To find your City-Wide school, click here

        What are examples of citywide programs?

        Newcomer programs are one example. These serve students who have recently arrived in the US and help them learn English. All elementary language programs are considered city-wide, because they are available only at a limited number of schools, and have a separate enrollment capacity. K-8 schools and the SF Public Montessori School are also citywide schools.

        This page was last updated on December 12, 2023