Lowell High School admissions will return to merit-based system after SF school board vote

After nearly two years of intense and bitter debate, test scores and grades will once again determine which San Francisco students are admitted to Lowell High School after the city’s school board decided to return to the merit-based admissions system Wednesday.

In a split 4-3 vote, the school board decided to restore the previous merit process after two years of using a lottery-based system. The vote will now apply to freshman entering in the fall of 2023 as well as future classes, unless the board takes further action in the future to change the admission process.

The decision, which will include an appointed task force, will address a long-term process in the coming months as the district appoints a task force to look at improving high schools while analyzing competitive admissions at Lowell and other sites.

The board majority rejected Superintendent Vince Matthews’ recommendation to keep the lottery process in place for another year, even though he cited significant challenges to bringing back merit-based admission before the enrollment season starts in the fall.

Those supporting merit-based admission said they will strive to confront the real equity problems in the district while also supporting academic excellence.

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