Parents seek fairness and ease of access in applying to K-12 schools
PHILADELPHIA – Educational Opportunities for Families (EOF) released its Finding A Seat report on how families navigate the school application and selection process across all school types in Philadelphia. Overall, parents described the current process as confusing and frustrating, and based on outreach to parents and other stakeholders across the system, EOF recommends improvements to make the process fairer and less burdensome on families and schools.
For the report, EOF conducted more than 100 hours of outreach to parents of students attending public neighborhood, charter, special admission, citywide or alternative schools across 20 zip codes; as well as conducting outreach to representatives from schools and community organizations across the city. Common findings from these detailed sessions include:
- Parents said they feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or stressed by the current process;
- Multiple application forms, requirements, and deadlines across district, charter, and private schools are challenging for families to navigate;
- There is confusion about and inconsistency in the resources and supports available at schools of all types about the process;
- Families value multiple school options and the ability to make final school decisions regardless of their zip code; and
- While the School District of Philadelphia and charter schools have made progress in streamlining the application process, parents and community groups prefer a process with one application form and a single deadline.
“Parents and families tell us over and over again that the school application and selection system is difficult to navigate, and that they often must do so without any help whatsoever from the schools themselves,” said Sylvia P. Simms, Executive Director of EOF. “But make no mistake: families are determined to find the best school options for their children, and they want to see the process simplified and made fairer for applying and selecting schools in Philadelphia.”
Based on feedback and suggestions from participants, EOF recommends the following reforms to streamline and simplify the school enrollment process in Philadelphia:
- Make Philadelphia’s school application process a more cohesive system, with a single application for all school types and aligned deadlines for application submissions, school offer decisions, and family selection decisions;
- Provide parents and students with unbiased support in completing applications and information to determine which schools could be the best option, regardless of school type;
- Increase school participation in events like the Philly High School Fair and K-8 Fair; and
- Implement uniform/universal transportation policies across school types.
The full report can be found on EOF’s website.
Launched in 2014, Educational Opportunities for Families (EOF) is a grassroots organization made up of families from across Philadelphia united by the belief that access to a great school should not be determined by a child’s address. We are dedicated to providing a voice to under-represented families who seek better educational options for their children.