Elite Lowell High School admissions would become a lottery under new San Francisco district proposal

Jill Tucker:

San Francisco school officials dropped a bombshell proposal Friday, recommending that admissions to the academically exclusive Lowell High School be subject to random lottery for the fall, meaning all entering freshmen would have equal odds of getting in regardless of grades or test scores.

District officials told The Chronicle that the recommendation is yet more fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Lowell generally admits students based on a score that takes into account grade-point average and test results while setting aside a limited number of spots for qualified students from underrepresented schools. But Lowell continues to be largely white and Asian, with few other people of color.

The school has long been at the center of a debate about elitism and equal opportunity, and its admission process has been under scrutiny in the past. Though the new proposal was not driven by a push to increase diversity, that could be an outcome.

Officials said the new policy is needed because there is no way to adequately assess students for admission given the lack of letter grades from the spring semester, when the district used pass/fail grades after schools closed, and the district’s inability to administer standardized tests during the pandemic.