In our efforts to ensure that every child in Philadelphia has access to a high-quality school, we have met with hundreds of parents and numerous stakeholders who have cited the City’s school application and selection process as a barrier for many families seeking the best educational environment for their child.
In our latest report, Finding A Seat, we decided to take an in depth look into the process that Philadelphia families go through to identify, apply and select the school that best meets their needs to find out what aspects of the process are working and what challenges exist. The report also takes a look at how other large urban cities handle their school enrollment process, how it compares to Philadelphia and what we can learn from these cities to improve our process.
We spent more than 100 hours talking with families across 20 zip codes and nearly 50 hours conducting interviews with education stakeholders about their experiences with Philadelphia’s school application and selection process. We heard that:
- The current school application process is complicated for families because there are separate applications, requirements and deadlines across all school types (district, charter and private schools);
- Parents lack the resources and supports to navigate the school application process, which can make the process overly burdensome;
- Philadelphia’s current school application process favors those who have the time and resources to “work” the system;
- A family’s ability to receive and accept multiple school admission offers leads to inconsistent enrollment projections, staffing allocations and budgeting issues.
In order to address these concerns, EOF is encouraging the School District of Philadelphia, the City’s charter schools and private schools to join together to:
- Create one application across all school types, with one set of deadlines for application submissions and school selections;
- Develop a single online portal where families can access information about individual schools;
- Integrate information about the school application process in the school curriculum and provide parents with resources and supports to assist their children in the process; and
- Review public transportation routes and service with an eye toward student needs.
We hear far too often that students remain trapped in failing schools because they didn’t have the information or resources to seek out a better option. Every family deserves an equal opportunity to select a school that best meets their needs. Our children deserve a good education too.