Lottery results for Philly’s special-admissions schools to come by month end

Philadelphia School District headquarters

Philadelphia School District headquarters on North Broad Street. (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

Families waiting on the results of Philadelphia’s special-admissions school selection process should have answers by the end of the month, an official said Tuesday.

“Our hope is that parents and families, students as well, will be notified of lottery results by January 31,” spokesperson Monique Braxton said.

Decisions were supposed to be released on Friday, but were delayed due to the district’s appeals process.

Students must apply for admission to the district’s 22 selective schools. All offer high school, though some enroll students as early as the fifth grade. Families can also use the lottery to apply to the district’s city-wide schools and any public school with available seats.

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The school district accepted applications for the 2023-24 school year from September through early November. Families learned whether they were eligible for the schools they had selected in mid-November, at which point they had the option to appeal. The district received nearly 1,000 appeals, Braxton said, and has less than 10 left to review.

When asked how many appeals had been granted so far, she said the district will share more information once the process is complete.

“We ask that everyone trust the education process and we’re doing the best we can to meet your needs and align students with the appropriate schools,” she said.

Many of the city’s charter schools are still accepting applicants for the coming school year through a central enrollment process that closes on Monday, Jan. 23.

Eligibility for each school is based on a variety of factors and all schools consider grades, attendance, and standardized tests.

The lottery system was new last school year and replaced a system in which principals largely decided who they admitted to their school.

At the time, administrators said the goal of the lottery was to increase equity, since historically Black and Latino students have been underrepresented in the city’s magnet schools.

Students who qualify and live in the six least represented ZIP codes are guaranteed a spot at four of the criteria-based high schools, as long as seats are available. This year, those zip codes are 19140, 19139, 19134, 19121, and 19133. The four schools are Carver High School of Engineering and Science, Central, Masterman, and Academy at Palumbo.

The district made additional changes this school year, including eliminating a writing assessment used by five schools, and resuming use of standardized test scores, which were unavailable last year due to the pandemic.

According to the district, almost two-thirds of eighth-graders met the minimum requirements for criteria-based schools last year, more than triple the rate from the year prior. And two out of three eligible eighth-graders applied to at least one selective school.

The percentage of students living in prioritized ZIP codes who were offered spots at four of the selective schools increased. Eighth-graders from those ZIP codes made up between 12% and 14% of offers, depending on the school, up from less than 10% on average in the years prior.

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But relatively few students of color claimed spots at the city’s most elite schools.

Less than 2% of Black and Latinx eighth-graders qualified to attend Masterman during last school year’s cycle, and less than 7% of Black and Latinx students at Central. An even smaller percentage were admitted.

UPDATE: This story was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 17, to provide an updated timeline from the School District of Philadelphia.

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