Students Submit a Response for Placement in Eligible Criteria-Based Schools

Posted on April 6, 2023
Categories: News from SDP

District Hosts Community Meetings and 61 Students Submit a Response for Placement in Eligible Criteria-Based Schools

At the March Board of Education meeting, the School District of Philadelphia announced that seats would be made available in 12 criteria-based schools to 316 rising 9th grade students who were eligible to participate in the process. Last week, in an effort to promote this opportunity, the District hosted four public information sessions. Of the 316 students eligible to participate, 61 submitted a list of their preferred criteria-based schools.

The 316 students were identified as eligible for this process based on the following criteria:

    1. The students participated in the school selection process for 9th grade (current 8th graders) in the fall.
    2. They met the minimum qualifications for one or more criteria-based schools that they initially applied to.
    3. They have not yet accepted an offer from a criteria-based school they applied to for one or more of these reasons:
      • They are on the waitlist for all eligible programs
      • They declined an offer(s)

Following this year’s lottery and school selection process, enrollment projections indicated there were 800 vacant 9th grade seats at criteria-based high schools. The number of vacancies does not tell the whole story. More internal applicants to 9th grade met the qualifications for criteria-based schools following this year’s lottery and school selection process compared to pre-pandemic years, including the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. However, this year, for the first time, schools were not able to enroll students who did not meet qualifications. To address the impact of a projected 800 unfilled 9th grade seats, the District allowed the 316 eligible students to select a seat at one of the 12 criteria-based schools with open seats.

From Tuesday, March 28 – Friday, March 31, the District hosted four public information sessions for the students and their families to learn about the process and get information about each of the 12 criteria-based schools with seats available. Following the information sessions, 61 of those eligible students submitted their list of preferred schools. The schools that received the most selections included: Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) High School, Franklin Learning Center (FLC), and Walter B. Saul High School.

In addition to allowing the eligible students to participate in an extended opportunity to select a school of their choice, the District reallocated $3 million to maintain positions for employees at these 12 criteria-based schools, such that no school is likely to lose more than two positions.  Principals determine budget allocation and make school staffing decisions. In addition to enrollment projections, school budgets and staffing decisions can be influenced by external funding sources, like grants and government resources. Currently, only three of the 19 criteria-based schools are projected to have three or more positions reduced, due to the school’s budget allocation. The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, Hill-Freedman World Academy, and Philadelphia High School for Girls will each lose more than two positions.

“We understand that these solutions, while they address the issues, are not perfect. We also recognize the need to improve the school selection process,” said Superintendent Dr. Tony B. Watlington, Sr. “As a result, we will develop a project team to conduct a thorough evaluation of the school selection process, to implement improvements in advance of next year’s school selection process.”

This process remains ongoing, and the District will continue to provide updates. Students who submitted their school preferences will be informed of a placement by April 14.