Posted on January 5, 2024
Categories: Research and Evaluation

Students throughout Philadelphia have the opportunity to apply to attend School District of Philadelphia (SDP) schools of their choice through an annual School Selection Process (SSP). Students across all grades may apply to all available SDP K-12 schools, but 8th graders applying for 9th grade constitute the largest group of participants.

Among the 9th grade options provided by SDP are 21 criteria-based (CB) high schools and programs. These schools and programs all have minimum requirements for students’ grades in core courses (English, math, science, and social studies), attendance, and standardized test scores. In addition, some schools have specialized requirements (e.g., an audition as part of an application to a specialized performing arts program, prior course completion, or a project-based presentation).

Major changes were made to the SSP during the 2021-22 school year, and most of those changes were retained for the 2022-23 school year. One substantive difference in the criteria used in 2022-23 compared to the 2021-22 school year was a return to using standardized test scores as criteria for admission (which were not available in 2021-22 due to Covid-19 disruptions).

This report includes analyses of several phases of the 2022-23 School Selection Process, including the rates at which students of all grades participated by applying to schools and programs, and the rates at which those students received and/or accepted offers of admission as of February 6, 2023.

The majority of the analyses focus on 8th graders enrolled in District (non-charter) schools, and their engagement with the School Selection Process (SSP) to enroll in 9th grade CB schools and programs in the 2023-24 school year.

Key findings include:

  • Overall Participation (Internal and External Students): Across all grades, a total of 16,496 different students (District students and external students) submitted at least one application to a District school or program during the 2022-23 School Selection Process. Consistent with historical patterns, the majority (10,701) of all applicants participating in the School Selection Process were 8th graders.
  • Qualifications (District 8th Graders Only): Based on pre-application student qualification levels, approximately one-fourth (27.1%) of all District 8th graders met or exceeded the Minimum qualification level for criteria-based (CB) high schools in 2022-23. This represents a large decrease from 2021-22 (65.0%), when there was no PSSA requirement; but represents an increase from 2020-21 (20.2%), when the PSSA requirement was last in effect.
  • Applications (District 8th Graders Only): Overall, 63.8% of District 8th graders applied to at least one criteria-based school in 2022-23. This represents a 1.2 percentage point decrease from the 2021-22 CB application rate of 65.0%.
  • Applications (District 8th Graders Only): Less than half (45.1%) of all CB applications (students can apply to up to 5 schools) submitted by District 8th graders were submitted to a school where that student met the school’s requirements (including attendance, grades, and standardized test scores).
  • Admission Offers (District 8th Graders Only): Over 97% of District 8th graders who submitted at least one eligible CB application received at least one CB admission offer.
  • Student Responses (District 8th Graders Only): Over 90% of students who received at least one CB offer accepted one.