Descriptive Title: Percentage of kindergarteners requesting nearby schools on their school application

Geographic Unit of Analysis: Elementary school attendance area

Percent of families choosing their attendance area elementary school as their first choice and school academic performance index, 2011
School % 1st choice 2010 Base API
Lau 59% 835
Spring Valley 58% 846
Grattan 57% 873
Sherman 55% 941
Clarendon 54% 944
West Portal 53% 904
Miraloma 48% 865
Taylor 43% 855
Alamo 39% 923
Yick Wo 36% 897
Alvarado 34% 836
Lafayette 34% 891
Ulloa 34% 914
McKinley 32% 822
Parker 32% 859
Argonne 31% 888
Tenderloin 29% 748
Chin 28% 901
Peabody 28% 886
Feinstein 26% 861
Longfellow 26% 808
Visitacion Valley 26% 826
Jefferson 25% 893
Guadalupe 24% 804
Moscone 24% 843
Sunset 23% 890
Redding 21% 794
Sloat 21% 882
Chavez 19% 685
Stevenson 17% 923
Key 16% 882
New Traditions 16% 802
Sunnyside 16% 768
Bryant 14% 696
King 14% 724
Monroe 14% 808
Sheridan 14% 825
Lakeshore 13% 804
Sanchez 13% 677
Harte 12% 627
Muir 12% 635
Hillcrest 11% 674
McCoppin 11% 841
Serra 11% 704
Cleveland 10% 664
Milk 10% 810
Ortega 10% 811
Garfield 9% 835
Glen Park 9% 764
Webster 9% 702
Carver 6% 701
Malcom X 6% 800
Parks 5% 713
El Dorado 4% 715
Cobb 2% 718
Drew 2% 710
Sutro 2% 885

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

Research on travel mode choice also shows that when schools are located closer to home, more children walk and/or bicycle to school and vehicle pollution emissions fall.a Walking to school can be an important source of physical activity to help prevent chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Nationally, less than 15% of children aged 5 to 15 walk to school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long distances to school are a primary barrier to walking to school. Danger from traffic was the second most important barrier.b Decreased vehicle utilization can help reduce rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases as well as decrease rates of pedestrian/traffic injury. Additionally, shorter commuting times provide students with more free time, which can be spent on homework, participation in extracurricular activities, employment, sleep, etc.

While there are many reasons for a student’s family to choose a school outside of their attendance area, including language immersion and other unique school programs, sibling enrollment, or actually living closer to a non-attendance area school, particularly low percentages of attendance area families selecting a school as a first choice may be an indication that families perceive that school to be undesirable or problematic. 

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

San Francisco has a choice based school assignment system, meaning that families can apply to any public school/program with openings in the city.  There is no guarantee that a student will receive an assignment to any particular school, but if there are enough spaces at a school to accommodate all students who want to attend, all applicants will receive assignment offers. While the primary application form allows students to rank ten schools, additional paperwork can be filed to provide rankings for all schools.

 These maps, created by the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) based on 2011-2012 school assignment offers, demonstrate that in general fewer families on the south eastern side of the city listed their attendance area school as their first choice school or their closest school as a choice at all. The SFUSD Student Assignment Annual Report for 2011-12 School Year reports that when school choice and proximity are examined by ethnicity, fewer African American and Latino families list their closest school as one of their school choices compared to Chinese or White families (67% African American, 61% Latino, 54% Chinese, and 52% White families respectively did not list their closest school at all).

When the percent of families choosing their attendance area elementary school is examined in relation to school academic performance (API) from 2010, it is evident the percent of families choosing their area school generally increases with school API. 


Maps were copied from the two SFUSD documents listed in the Data Sources section below. Percentages of families selecting their attendance area elementary school by school in the table were taken from the March 2011 School Assignment Offers report and 2010 school Base API scores were gathered from the California Department of Education. 


School choice can be influenced by many factors, including sibling attendance, school proximity to home or work, school academic reputation, recommendations, special programming, afterschool programming or childcare, neighborhood safety, and others.  School demand is just one indicator of school quality.  Additional measures of quality could include: academic performance; availability of books, supplies and other resources; physical and social structures of the school; actual and perceived safety at the schools; proximity to green space; training and experience of teachers and staff; involvement of parents in children’s education; opportunities for extracurricular activities; whether the school is used as a multi-use facility in the afternoons, evenings and weekends; existence of afterschool programs; etc.

Data Source

SFUSD. Student Assignment: March 2011 School Assignment Offers. April 13, 2011.

SFUSD. Student Assignment Annual Report: 2011-12 School Year. March 5, 2012.

2010 Base API Scores: California Department of Education:

Maps prepared by San Francisco Unified School District.

Table prepared by San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Detailed information regarding census data, geographic units of analysis, their definitions, and their boundaries can be found at the following links:

Interactive boundaries map

  1. Ewing R, Forinash CV, Schroeer W. Neighborhood Schools and Sidewalk Connections. What are the impacts on travel mode choice and vehicle emissions. Transportation Research News. March-April 2005 pp 4-10.
  2. Dellinger A, Staybtib C. Barriers to Children Walking and Bicycling to School. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2002;51:701-704.