Mar 12, 2024 - News

Parents: A tool for navigating the school enrollment process

Illustration of an apple within a GPS pin.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Each year, the Voice of San Diego publishes a guide to help parents and guardians make informed decisions on where to send their kids to school, providing data, explainers, timelines and other resources.

Why it matters: Kids can attend school outside of their neighborhood, but it can be complicated and stressful to understand how to apply, along with meeting deadlines and making the right decision. The Parent's Guide to San Diego Schools can help with that process.

How it works: San Diego County school districts offer "choice windows" or time frames for families applying to enroll in a school that isn't their neighborhood school.

  • They can choose to send their kids to another school in the district, a free charter school or magnet school, or apply to change districts entirely.
  • Some windows are open now, but timing varies by district as outlined in the guide. At San Diego Unified, the "priority window" is in the fall, but late applications are accepted for the 2024-25 school year until August 9.

Zoom in: When deciding about switching schools, families can use the guide to sort through school performance metricschronic absenteeism, graduation rates, test scores, etc. — and other distinctions like dual language instruction.

  • The guide also offers an FAQ on after school programs and tips about the Individualized Education Programs process for students with disabilities.

The fine print: For test scores, Voice partnered with UC San Diego to create a unique metric that accounts for school communities' poverty levels, since income impacts educational outcomes.

  • That metric highlights schools that are performing well even with high percentages of students that qualify for free and reduced-priced meals, like Edison Elementary in City Heights.

What's next: Voice of San Diego is hosting two final in-person workshops this week with experts to explain the guide and answer questions.

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