This story originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.
The Philadelphia School District announced Thursday the timeline and revised criteria for school selection. The process to apply for the 2024-25 school year will begin Sept. 15 at 4 p.m.
The new process will include recommendations made by an independent audit of the district’s policies on school choice. The final report issued by Accenture offered new suggestions for applying families and School District staff.
Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr. sent a letter to families regarding the changes and acknowledging the urgency to amend the process.
“Throughout my first year as superintendent, I’ve heard a lot of feedback about our school selection process,” the letter said. “Immediately it became clear that while school selection is important for providing our students equitable opportunities to attend a school of their choice, our implementation needed a critical assessment and improvement. We understand how challenging the school selection process has been in the past, but please know that we are continuously striving to improve.”
A major area of contention has been getting eligible students directly into seats at selective middle and high schools. The new process guarantees that students attending schools like GAMP, Masterman and SLA who meet the high school criteria will matriculate after finishing eighth grade.
The district has also committed to developing a new process for students who apply to criteria-based and city-wide schools but are wait-listed even though they meet the criteria. Students will be eligible for alternative criteria-based and city-wide schools where they qualify and seats are open with no wait list.
The report called for changes to the individualized review process, like ninth-graders applying to criteria-based schools with education plans or non-native English speakers. The district will create a review process for similar students applying to criteria-based middle schools. The communication process will offer more frequent, clear updates of information throughout the process.