Changes to Student Assignment Policy

Overview

The San Francisco Board of Education has adopted a new, zone-based student assignment policy for elementary schools. This new policy is expected to take effect for students enrolling in elementary school beginning in the 2023-24 school year.

This website describes the new elementary school assignment policy and will be used to share updates and opportunities to get involved as SFUSD prepares to implement it. Also be sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive updates throughout the process.

Background

In December 2018, the Board of Education passed Resolution 189-25A1 Developing a Community Based Student Assignment System for SFUSD, which began the process of developing a new student assignment system for elementary schools. In the resolution, the Board listed a number of concerns with the current system, including that it has not reversed the trend of racial isolation, is complicated for families to navigate, and isn’t predictable or transparent enough.

Since then, the Board engaged in a two-year policy development process which included 11 meetings of the Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment, 12 community workshops to gather public input, 4 virtual community information sessions, dozens of additional conversations with San Francisco families and community groups, case studies from other districts, and policy simulations conducted by Stanford researchers. The process ultimately culminated with a staff recommendation for a zone-based assignment system.  

In December 2020, the Board adopted a new zone-based elementary school student assignment policy that supports SFUSD’s goals of diverse school enrollment, and predictable school assignment within reasonable geographic distance to where families reside.

New Elementary School Assignment Policy

SFUSD will replace our current district-wide choice system with a new zone-based assignment system beginning with students enrolling for the 2023-24 school year. 

The policy is designed to achieve three goals, which are prioritized in the following order:

  1. Diversity: Create integrated elementary schools that provide students with the opportunity to experience the rich diversity of the city of San Francisco.
  2. Predictability: Offer families of elementary school students a high degree of predictability about where their children will be enrolled in school.
  3. Proximity: Create strong community connections to local schools and facilitate enrollment in an elementary school within a reasonable geographic distance.

Under the new policy, SFUSD will develop assignment zones and allow families to choose from the elementary schools in the zone they live in. Each zone will include choices of K-5 and K-8 schools, language pathways, and special education programs. While we can’t guarantee that each child will be assigned to their top choice, we can provide families with the knowledge that their child will be assigned to one of the schools in their zone. There will be some very limited exceptions, such as for younger siblings whose older sibling already attends an elementary school in a different zone. 

Younger siblings, students who reside in Federal public housing or in historically underserved areas of San Francisco, and SFUSD PreK students who wish to continue in TK or K at the same school will all receive a preference in the assignment process.

The policy will also consider the demographic characteristics of each child’s immediate neighborhood when assigning students to help ensure that every school reflects the diversity of the zone it's in. 

Read the full policy here.

Next Steps

While the new policy includes guidelines for drawing zones, it does not include actual zone boundaries. These will be developed as a next step before the policy is implemented and then will be monitored and evaluated on an annual basis to ensure they’re helping achieve SFUSD’s policy goals. 

The process for developing zones will be open, transparent, and conducted in partnership with families and community members. Decisions about zones will be actively focused on addressing social inequities in San Francisco.

This website will be used to share updates on next steps and opportunities for community members to get involved.