School Selection Process

Posted on August 17, 2022
Categories: Faculty, School, Students

Download a PDF of this letter here.

Dr. Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D.

August 16, 2022

Dear School District of Philadelphia Families,

The 2022-2023 School Selection process opens Friday, September 16, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. The school selection process allows students currently in pre-kindergarten through 11th grade to apply to attend any school with available space outside of their neighborhood or catchment area. The process will close on Friday, November 4 at 11:59 p.m.

The process for the upcoming school year reflects two modifications from last year: the writing assessment used by five schools last year will be eliminated, and the District will resume the use of PSSA test results (which were not available last year) for criteria-based high schools and middle schools. PSSA admission criteria by school will be adjusted this year in light of the learning loss and other challenges our students have experienced. Consistent with last year, the District will continue to:

  • use a centralized lottery and waitlist system,
  • apply school-specific grades and attendance criteria,
  • extend an offer (subject to space availability) to qualified applicants in the six zip codes that have the lowest representation in four criteria-based high schools (Carver Engineering and Science, Central, Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School, and Academy at Palumbo) and two criteria-based middle schools (Masterman and Carver),
  • and make the online application available in 10 different languages.

Grades, attendance and PSSA or alternative assessment scores will be weighted equally in the process.

The six zip codes, which have the lowest representation of students accepted at those criteria based schools over the last four years, are: 19140, 19134, 19132, 19121, and 19133 (all of which are the same as last year) and 19139 (new this year). The 19135 zip code, which was one of the six zip codes last year, is no longer among the six most under-represented zip codes this year.

Students currently enrolled in a District school (excluding charters) who did not take the PSSA last year, and students enrolled in charter, private, parochial or other school districts that do not participate in the PSSA, may submit the results of an equivalent assessment before the close of the application window on Friday, November 4th. Acceptable alternative assessments are: TerraNova, Educational Records Bureau CTP4, the California Achievement Test, the Independent School Entrance Examination and the Secondary School Admission Test. The Office of Assessment will determine and communicate PSSA admission criteria by school and equivalent criteria for any other assessments used during the school selection process by the end of September 2022.

The District will host three Town Hall sessions in August to share more about the 2022-2023 school selection process and what families and students can expect. To register and to learn more about the process, school admission criteria and the application, please visit A chart with more details about specific admissions criteria for high schools and middle schools is included below for your convenience. If you have further questions about the process, you can email us at

Additionally, to strengthen our decision making in preparation for the 2023-2024 school selection process, we will:

  • appoint a diverse project team composed of principals, teachers, counselors, assistant superintendents, parents and students to review the 2022-2023 selection process, and provide feedback and improvement recommendations;
  • and engage in a competitive search for an external auditor to review the 2022-2023 selection process and issue a report with its findings to the District.

I want to thank you for choosing the School District of Philadelphia for your child’s education. We look forward to supporting you during the upcoming school selection process.

In partnership for children,

Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia