Placement results from the first round

Well, the first set of numbers are out and they’re interesting. I expect people will have different interpretations based on their particular take on the assignment debate, and remember these are preliminary first round results — we won’t be able to draw hard conclusions about school composition until we see who enrolls and actually attends come August 15.

Here’s the most interesting highlights, from my perspective:

  • The number of people applying to Kindergarten has increased by more than 20 percent since 2005;
  • Only 23 percent of K applicants listed the school closest to them as a first choice;
  • 39 percent of K applicants listed a language pathway (primarily Spanish/Cantonese/Mandarin immersion but some biliteracy pathways as well);
  • 50 percent of all K applicants listed one of 14 schools (see below) as a first choice;
  • 50 percent of all 6th grade applicants listed one of three schools (Giannini, Presidio or Aptos) as a first choice.
  • 53 percent of all 9th grade applicants listed one of three schools as a choice (Lowell, Lincoln or Washington).
  • Four out of five applicants received one of their choices (similar to previous years).  For K, 74 percent received a first, second or third choice (81 percent received a choice); 85 percent of 6th grade applicants received a first, second or third choice (86 percent received a choice), and for 9th grade applicants, 84 percent received a first, second or third choice (86 percent received a choice).
  • I was totally wrong about Clarendon demand from CTIP, and my commenter Wayne was right. Residents of the Clarendon attendance area, if they were not siblings of existing Clarendon students, were not very likely to get seats, due to a huge number of siblings (40) and a large number of CTIP requests (30).  Of the 14 high-demand elementary schools, demand from CTIP definitely affected attendance area residents at Clarendon more than others on the list that had high CTIP requests ( E.R. Taylor and Alvarado).  See the table below, taken from page 16 of the district’s report.

Here’s the breakdown for Kindergarten ( less detailed 6th and 9th grade tables appear on page 30 of the report):


84 responses to “Placement results from the first round

  1. thanks Wai. This is fascinating.


  2. @Lorraine,

    Done. Added 6th and 9th grade chart. There aren’t a strong pattern like in the Kindergarten. The big story is white, the largest group in Kindergarten assignment, is only 13% here. Asian constitute 50% in 6th and 9th grade.

  3. Roberta Sanchez


    Can you answer if you know, are all the openings in the top desired schools filled? Or do they withhold some openings for hardship, appeals for the second round.


  4. This system is a joke. Yes if you got your choices it would be great. All the parents I have spoken with have been disappointed. This system punishes the children living in higher scoring zip codes. Since they ruling of segregation by race was tossed out in the courts. Somehow the school district deemed to continue segregation by utilizing CTIP , giving lower scoring areas priority over children living in the neighborhood. CTIP is still segregation but transparent.

    Go back to neighborhood district assignment and no parent will have any complaints. If you want your children to attend a desirable school, move to that location. That’s what my parents did when I was young. Oh yes, my father had to work 3 jobs for the move. But it was his choice for a better education for all his children. Stop the taking away from the haves and giving it to not have’s. As it stands now the CTIP parents get a free pass to cut in line. It is a form of discrimination. I am all for equal education for all but not at my child’s expense. The school district needs to bring all schools to the same level making every school a desirable school.

    Just wait and see there will be a day when this system has forced a parents hand to attend a school in a drug infested area. When a drive by shooting erupts and a strikes a innocent grade schooler waiting for a bus. Yea bet your bottom dollars the City will be sued. But does anyone care?

    My blame points to the liberal and progressive ways of San Francisco. Parents as voters have a choice at the ballots. Inclusive is good , but this has to stop.

  5. Hey, Rachel –

    About the number of potential kindergartners whose parents opted for private school without trying the lottery — no one could get perfect numbers, but there was a census in 2010, and that should allow for an estimate.

    By the way, we got our first choice, a our neighborhood general ed, K-5 school. It’s a good school, but not one of the sought after 14, and we’re excited to be sending my daughter there in the Fall. Last year many of my neighbors were unable to get any placement at all in the Sunset. I know it’s not going to make everyone happy, all the time, but I appreciate the changes to the system, and how hard you all have tried to make something that produces less anxiety for families.

  6. Dear Rachel,

    I write to you as a proud parent of 3 SFUSD students. My children have grown up in San Francisco, nurtured by family, friends and educators. All 3 attended Miraloma Co-op, Lakeshore Elementary and Aptos Middle School. So, obviously, you and I share many of the same contacts and acquaintances. My family and I have been fighting your fight, side by side with so many other decent, good middle class families who want a better world for all children.

    My twins are eager to begin the next chapter of their education and are excited about high school. They are both thriving, happy, and generous spirits. My son works as a peer educator, teaching his schoolmates how to cope with and prevent bullying. Both will be working as camp counselors at Silver Tree this summer. Nothing prepared them for the disappointment that arrived in the mail on Saturday.

    After working hard at school and developing into remarkable citizens, my children were rewarded with assignments to John O’Connell Technical High SchooI. I still can’t get over the look on my daughter’s face when she read the contents of the envelope. What a slap in the face. My twins are now teased and are made the butt of stupid jokes. They went from being proud honors students and Aptos Tigers to being made fun of for being placed into a remedial school. We mistakenly placed trust in a process and an enrollment system that is broken.

    We have been told by a number of employees at EPC that “it’s not personal, there was an error with the algorithm, it was the computer’s fault…” On the contrary, it is personal. The process is flawed. The process is unfair. And, honestly, it is not the “computer’s fault.” This was not a lottery. We weren’t even swimming in the pool with most of the applicants. 50% of Balboa seats went to CTP1 students. By no means do I think that we are more deserving based on merit, yet, I truly believed that at least we had a fair, fighting chance. I was sadly mistaken.

    My wish is that you share this with Hydra and your fellow board members. Please, someone, fix the system before Round 2 or my family and many families just like ours will have no chance in fulfilling our dream.



  7. Another Idealist

    Hi Rachel,
    Having gone to all of those meetings, I would argue that the impact of CTIP1 and the general oversubscription to neighborhood schools in the center of the city was definitely predictable, or at least foreseeable, if the board and the district staff had used more recent data than 2000 census and current public school enrollments. This issue was raised repeatedly. Just getting the number of birth certificates issued in 2005/06 by zip code would have been a much more accurate proxy for demand. While you didn’t have historical info to tell you what demand patterns would be, they could have run a few different scenarios to see what might, and did, happen. Some of the demand info presented in those meetings was laughable to anyone who had walked through any of the neighborhoods in question. And when the actual enrollments are far less than applications, they will use that data to predict future demand when the reality is that the broken system is forcing families out of SFUSD and out of the City.
    The parents who took such an interest in those meetings were busily engaging with the social issues as well as with data and trying to crunch through how different models would play out across the system as a whole. We invested a lot of our own time understanding the complexities (not the philosophy or the ideal but the reality of how these options would play out) at a level that I’m afraid most of the Board did not. It was disheartening to see then, and more so now when we see the results.
    Another Idealist

  8. Chris Francisco

    Hello Rachel: My sped incoming MS student, did not get the SDC that we requested. I’m really confused about what special ed parents should do to try to get their choice. Our first choice, Aptos SDC, is the best for us for a number of reasons. Any advice?
    sped mom

  9. @Lauretta, thanks for clarifying. Let the trolls on SFKFiles know that as far as I am concerned, and as far as I know, district admins are expected to go through the lottery like everyone else. We do give teachers the option, after the first round, of appealing to have their child with them at the school where they teach. There may be a similar courtesy offered to other school-based personnel, but nothing like a free pass out of the lottery.

  10. Lauretta Komlos

    My apologies if you misunderstood my question. Please understand the question was not meant to be offensive. I knew that you had entered the lottery from following your blog, and was curious to know if you received a 1st choice, another ranked choice or if your child was assigned a non-ranked choice. Nothing more.

    The other part of my question involved the misinformation out there on the blogosphere. I have read several blog posts on SF K Files saying that District Admins were receiving priorities to trophy schools. These posts strongly implied that District Administrators were not required to enter the lottery. I assumed they were incorrect, and wanted you to clarify that for the benefit of the community. Thank you for doing so.

  11. @Wai
    This is very interesting – as a visual learner, I find these kids of things very helpful. Would you consider doing it for SFUSD middle and high schools as well? I think it will show that the racial isolation issues become less pronounced in upper grades as schools become larger.

  12. Wai, thank you for that chart. Even more sobering visual information would be API results, but this alone is indeed facinating.

  13. @Wai this is fascinating! Very interesting for people to see. Thanks for doing this.


  14. @Pressing On, not trying to be unresponsive but I don’t have much more information than is in the report at the moment. I would argue with the point that the CTIP 1 demand was “forseeable”, since based on past years it is significantly larger. There are a number of issues to investigate and evaluate. However, I think it’s unlikely that policies will change for THIS enrollment cycle. If I were you, I would focus more on what my options are today. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh or uncaring. I don’t mean it that way, but I’m just trying to give people realistic expectations.

  15. Rachel – I’m hoping you can try to answer my question posted earlier, March 20 at 11:18 pm. I’m not trying to be difficult, but would really like to understand the thinking with SFUSD in an attempt to move forward. My original post gives more context, but in a nutshell:

    Why were the boundaries drawn so large for Clarendon when it could be anticipated that CTIP 1 demand would be strong?

    Has the SFUSD seriously considered limiting the number of CTIP 1 applicants as a certain percentage of any one school?


  16. Hello Rachel,

    Thanks for the reply to my message below, as now I have some hope.
    I reviewed the Amended Choices Request application for round 2. There is no check boxes for sibling attending or mention of a sibling being selected in the first round in which I am requesting the second twin sibling to also attend in the second round. Is the an oversight on the application?

    rpnorton | March 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm |

    @Rosita, @Michelle is right. You automatically have sibling priority at the 4th choice school. Accept the spot for that twin, and apply again for Twin #2, listing Twin#1 school as first choice, with a sibling. I spoke to EPC about the Twin issue today and was told it is almost always resolved in later rounds (I do know of one case where one twin was placed in immersion and one was placed in GE but at the same school, but usually EPC can find a sibling spot for a twin).

  17. @lauretta – I know it’s not meant to be offensive, but I do find the question offensive. I most certainly DID enter the lottery. I suppose the Superintendent does have the authority to make a space at a school for a VIP, but I don’t know of it happening, and I would discourage Carlos from using that authority if I heard about it. I certainly did not ask for that favor and he didn’t offer!
    Anyway, I am no longer posting the names of my childrens’ schools on the blog as that information has been spread more publicly than I am comfortable with in the past. I don’t really mind that people know, I just don’t want it searchable on the Internet. Anyway, I’ll tell you that we received our first choice Middle School, which was NOT one of the three most requested MS (Giannini, Aptos or Presidio), and it is not a charter school.
    As an aside, just today I was talking to a high-level district administrator who will need to enter the HS lottery for her stepson next year. She expressed anxiety about the outcome, given the tight demand patterns for certain schools. She certainly wasn’t talking like someone who is confident in the outcome of next year!

  18. @htownjohn sorry I sent you on a wild goose chase. It was worth a shot – glad it wasn’t too bad.

  19. @GC you’re reading into the data, which shows demand for bilingual vs. imms but only capacity data for immersion. I don’t know how many seats there are in each program but I would say there are more spanish immersion seats than bilingual. Anyway, it’s not that simple. We can’t say that one approach is better than another, and different families prefer different approaches. And anyway, adding immersion to Sanchez might be a good solution for English-speaking families in the Mission, but I think the jury is still out as to whether its the perfect solution for the native Spanish speaking families primarily being served at Sanchez. I’m not saying your idea is a bad one, but it’s more complex than just “put an immersion program there!”

  20. @Rosita, @Michelle is right. You automatically have sibling priority at the 4th choice school. Accept the spot for that twin, and apply again for Twin #2, listing Twin#1 school as first choice, with a sibling. I spoke to EPC about the Twin issue today and was told it is almost always resolved in later rounds (I do know of one case where one twin was placed in immersion and one was placed in GE but at the same school, but usually EPC can find a sibling spot for a twin).

  21. @bernal mom – I wish I had the perfect answer for you! I would say that if any immersion seat opens up, it would be likely to open up at Revere. But I realize that Immersion seats don’t open up as often as GE seats. My recommendation is to accept Revere GE and try in later rounds for Revere SpImm. You will have the advantage — if a seat opens up on the 10 day count — of already having your son at the school.

  22. Lauretta Komlos

    I am curious Rachel. Can you tell us whether there are any unreported tie-breakers. One parent on a tour at our school asked about gender, and I noted that Fairmount classes have always had equal numbers of girls and boys. That’s curious, because a random lottery would never actually produce such results. Also, at least for Fairmount’s program, we are advised there are a certain number of English language spots, bi-lingual spots, and Spanish language spots. How does the District SAS factor in these additional categories? Are there a set number of “girl” spots, a set number of “English-only” spots, or does it get even more exacting like a set number of “girl/English-only” spots? Or are there is no such subcategories, and it really is random and just seems to happen to work out evenly?

    Also curious to know if you’re willing to share what your own child’s assignment was. There is a lot out there on the Kiddie/school blogs suggesting that children of administrators in the District do not have to enter the lottery, and may pick and choose where their kids are assigned. I’m certain that this is very un-San Franciscan like. Could you set the record straight on that issue.

    Thanks as always for your response.

  23. @ Bernal Mom. I went down to EPC today and it wasn’t too bad. I was there for 2 hours, maybe a little less. That’s a long time, of course, but I was braced to spend perhaps the entire day there based on what I had been hearing about the craziness on the first day after Round 1. The process was very orderly and efficient, which was also a surprise. Could have been worse, I guess is what I’m saying.

    Separately, I’m sorry that this has happened. Our bilingual child (tested fluent in both Spanish/English) didn’t get into any of the 5 Spanish immersion programs on our list. I confirmed it at EPC this morning that there was no mistake. We’re just unlucky. So I share your sense of loss and frustration. I hope Round 2 will go better for us both.

  24. I thought you may be interested to see a chart I created base on the report. It is a map of the ethnicity make up of each school.

    Some of them are well mixed. Others have a majority of one racial group.

  25. Michelle Smith

    Rosita — I’m not Rachel, but I think I have an answer for you.
    If you’re happy with the #4 choice your child got, the easy solution is to accept your assignment for that child, and go into round 2 for the other child for that school, with the sibling preference. This will maximize your chances, as sibling priority is the top criteria. If there is even 1 spot open in that school, your other child will get it.

    Good luck!!!!

  26. Hi Rachel

    Re: Bilingual vs. Immersion, I am looking at page 12 of the report which sows that demand for Spanish Immersion is more than twice demand for Bilingual even though they have almost the same number of seats. In your comment are you also saying that Bilingual programs capture the native speakers which are a limiting factor for Immersion programs? So there are several good reasons for increasing the ratio of Immersion vs. bilingual programs?

    Can we also specifically get your thoughts on Sanchez? Shouldn’t they get an Immersion program? I think it could really help in turning around the school.

  27. Hello Rachel,

    My twins are devastated with the news that they have been selected to go different schools miles apart. They are so close and the thought of them being separated is causing anxiety in them. I am concerned of the long term effect it may have as they are each other mentor, motivator and feed off of each other. I know there is a time for them to lead their own separate lives, but at 5 years old is just a bit too early. Does the process have any concerns for the children future psychological effect in situations where multiple siblings are enrolling at the same time whether they are twins. triplets etc.?

    What is my next step? Both the twins selected the same 10 identical schools, one got our fourth choice and the other none and was placed in a undesirable K-5 school. With the second round coming, how can I proceed in getting the twins into the same school?


  28. Any data on how people requested based on student address and proximity to the school? Like Webster the attendance area line is one block away from the school.

  29. Hi Rachel-
    We currently have a kinder private that we really like but desperately need to give up before youngest hits school. Held out even until Dec. convinced that a spot would open @ one of our choices and we would transfer, LOTS of time spent going to EPC to no avail.
    After receiving our acceptance letter stating that our son was placed in one of our choice schools I was so elated, right up until I saw that it is not in fact one of our choices. Got Paul Revere GE, requested Spanish immersion. What can we do now? EPC will be a mad house and I fear getting the I’m sorry we made a mistake we will put you on a waitlist speech. Very few immersion spots ever open up and even fewer as you pass kinder. Desperate for some good advice.
    Bernal Mom

  30. I’m surprised at how many people are being assigned to schools like Jose Ortega, Sunnyside and Glen Park who did not put it on their list. That would mean that the people in those attendance areas did not list it at all even as a backup. I thought for sure that those schools would be filled up with attendance area kids.

    I think it would be helpful to people to see how many attendance area and CTIP1 kids list a certain school anywhere on their list. This is a better indicator for people in the future to know which schools they have a better shot of getting into. I think the focus on which schools get listed as 1st choice aren’t that helpful for that.

  31. Rachel – I noticed the enormous potential problem with those of us with Clarendon as our attendance area school before the lottery, but hoped against hope that it wouldn’t play that way. Unfortunately, it has. We are one of those that had Clarendon as our 3rd choice, only because our first two were immersion, so weren’t included in the 62 attendance area 1st choice folks.

    It was clear to me that according to past data, demand would be high from CTIP1 applicants for Clarendon leaving almost no spots for attendance area students. That being the case, why were the boundaries drawn so large for Clarendon making it even more difficult to get in?

    The bleak reality is that with having such low prospects of realizing our attendance area advantage & the density tie breaker going to 66% of the applicants, it was a foregone conclusion that the strong majority of us would be assigned schools that no one else had a real interest in. I spent 5 months touring 15 schools, and tried to represent a reasonable selection of schools versus just “trophy” schools and ended up 0/13, and assigned a school we wouldn’t dream of sending our son to for many reasons. Almost everyone I know in my area is in a similar boat.

    Have you thought seriously of limiting the number of CTIP 1 applicants as a certain percentage of any one school?

    I had discussed this possibility with another board member a few months ago – he assured me that SFUSD would have to do something as no one wanted the above scenario. Obviously this isn’t currently the case, but it sure seems to make sense. The statistics also seem to show that the new system is not helping to increase the diversity index at schools like Clarendon. The ironic thing is that our child is AA – not that I expect we should get into any school as a result, but giving CTIP 1 kids so much advantage just because of where they live seems to be an interesting choice as well. All the people I know who were classified as CTIP 1 were middle-class families who originally chose to live in a certain area because they liked it – areas whose rents are now going up because of this system. I hate to think that we would need to move to have a decent shot at getting in to an even somewhat decently-rated school.

    Would love to hear your advice for people in our situation & whether SFUSD is willing to tweak things (and how soon) to achieve a little more equitable results.

  32. The TTC mechanism is a very important part of the algorithm, since it’s the only way for a (CTIP2 etc.) applicant to get into a non-attendance-area school. However as we see there is a lot of uniformity in people’s school rankings, so trades make up a much smaller portion of assignments, and geography makes up the vast majority.

    In any case, when will the source code be published? I’m also looking forward to a map of people’s 1st choice assignments, etc., by attendance area.

  33. @GC (Hi!) I definitely think there is more English Language demand for Spanish Immersion — remember, we use the dual language immersion model that requires classrooms with equal numbers of native English speakers and target language native speakers (or, for purists, 33 percent native English speakers, 33 percent fully bilingual speakers and 33 percent target language native speakers). What we have experienced almost since the beginning of our dual language Spanish and Mandarin immersion programs is that more English language families want seats than native language speakers, leading to very unbalanced demand patterns. Anyway, I didn’t see Spanish bilingual demand specifically addressed in the report — let me know the page number if you did. Generally we have less demand for Spanish bilingual seats (for native Spanish speakers who need specific English Language Development instruction as part of the day) than seats for native Spanish speakers in immersion programs, but I don’t think the demand is so much different as to immediately demand eliminating one program or the other (we also have English-only pathways for families who want their children to be fully-immersed in English and don’t worry so much about exposure to the native language). And remember, there is a vocal and very determined constituency of native English language speakers for dual language immersion! Anyway, I have asked for data to indicate which approach, if any, is better for English Language Learners, who — under the Lau vs. Nichols court decision — are legally entitled to English language instruction to enable them to fully access our English language curriculum. More info here:

  34. Hi Rachel

    Am I reading the report correctly that we have not enough Spanish Immersion slots and too many Spanish Biliteracy slots citywide given actual demand?