Some great responses here to your question. To further explore specific details about San Francisco public and private schools, click on the "Public and Private Schools" link on my website: http://www.sfchi.com/buyers.html. There you will find all the data aggravated into easy to read profiles about each public and private school within San Francisco.
Here are some additional written information:
Public Schools in San Francisco
School choice in San Francisco was once determined by an open lottery system in which the school you selected (or were ultimately assigned) had nothing to do with the neighborhood where you lived. However, beginning with the 2011 school year, all that has changed.
The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) conducted an extensive analysis of the old system, and devised a solution to give families greater say in the selection process, keep kids a bit closer to home, and also attempt to keep the student population diverse at each school.
The new system, officially announced in March 2010, now designates boundaries for schools in San Francisco. There is greater priority given to residents within a given boundary area if they select their neighborhood school. However, like the old open lottery system, there is still no guarantee of placement at the neighborhood school. Location is just one of the factors considered in student placement. In fact, proximity is #4 on the list of factors taken into consideration. Higher on the priority list are students who attended preschool in the boundary area and students who reside in "low-scoring census tracts." To complicate things still further:
Some schools are more in-demand than others. Some may even receive as many as 20 requests for each open space at the school. What happens to students who live in the neighborhood for which there are more applicants than space available at their neighborhood school?
What formula is used to calculate the weight of each criterion in assigning a school? Is low-performing census tract weighted at 50 percent, while neighborhood proximity is weighted at 5 percent? The district has not made that clear.
Some schools are designated as "citywide" and don't have a boundary area with priority ranking, but rather still function on an open lottery system. These schools include: Alice Fong Yu, Buena Vista, Bessie Carmichael, Chinese Education Center, Chinese Immersion School, Fairmount Elementary, Lawton Alternative, Claire Lilienthal, Marshall Elementary, Mission Education Center, Paul Revere Elementary, Rooftop Alternative, SF Community Alternative, and SFUSD Public Montessori.
So, now what?
Well, first, you're in the right place to start your school search. There are many sites that offer slices or snippets of school information. To get demographic info about the teachers or student body, you need to visit the district site. To get a description of the school, you'd need to then visit the individual school site. To get the most recent Academic Performance Index (API) scores and the California Standardized Test (STAR) results, you'd have to visit the California Department of Education. To find out about immunization rates for kindergarteners, you'd even have to visit the Department of Public Health website.
Fortunately, we wrap it all neatly together in one place. We've done all the research, aggregated all the data, and put it together in simple, easy-to-read profiles. What's better than that? It's searchable. Search by grade range, school type, proximity to an address, or even enter keywords like "language immersion,â€ "girls only,â€ "nonsectarian" or "French" and find just the schools that match your needs.
Feel free to contact me for more information and parent-specific resources.
Wayne J. Chi, Esq.
Zephyr Real Estate
Back in the 1970s the schools were forced to desegregate by the courts and busing was instituted. Over the ensuing decades various forms of assignments were tried. Criteria used varied from race and socioeconomic status to motherâ€™s education level and primary language spoken at home.
A few years ago the courts gave up on running the show and pulled out completely. A new system of assignment has been devised through much discussion and public meetings. Every parent has the opportunity to choose up to seven schools that they want their child to attend. The school system computer uses those requests to assign seats. According to the district 85% to over 90% of the students get one of their choices.
Many schools have designed their curriculum to attract students. Even in the high school and middle school level there are arts schools, academic schools and other focuses. This focus on attracting students is believed to benefit all by giving choice to the parents. Some parents still just want neighborhood schools so the discussion will continue.
As of now the local kids are given a priority assignment â€“ but after siblings of already attending students and kids from certain zip codes identified as under-achieving areas.
There is a strong push underway for improvement in all high schools. One of the ways that is being done is assigning high performing kids to lower performing schools. This obviously provides a shot in the arm for the aggregate test scores. It also bring with it parents that are involved in their kids educations. That component, parental involvement, is a very important aspect of the success of a school.
My experience, raising two very wonderful daughters in SF, has proven that there are three legs to a successful school; motivated leadership, (principal), enthusiastic teachers and engaged parents. With any of those legs missing the school falls.
As a fellow parent and also home owner, I am of the opinion that is still very hard to buy or rent a property in San Francisco based on the proximity to schools.
Although the public school system is making changes towards an enrollment based on residency/neighborhood, the most popular and high scored schools have a waiting list and it is not a guarantee that if you live in the neighborhood, your children will be automatically enrolled there.
When it comes to high schools, you will discover that the highest ranked high schools are located in Sunset/Richmond area. Luckily San Francisco is not a very big city for commuting from a neighborhood to another.
Alina Aeby-Broker Associate
Pacific Union International
This map may be very useful.
There are also links to resources on my website.