School Board Votes to Reinstate Lowell’s Merit-Based Admissions

June 23, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Lowell High School will return to merit-based admissions, the San Francisco Board of Education decided Wednesday evening in a 4-3 vote.

The board’s decision restores merit-based admissions for the 2023-24 school year at Lowell, which had been suspended during the pandemic in favor of lottery-based admissions to “level the playing field” for African-American and Latino students.

Lowell High School, formerly regarded as one of the best schools in the country, saw a spike in Ds and Fs among its first batch of students admitted in the fall of 2021 through the new lottery system, reports KRON4.

Lowell High School’s demographics before the new lottery system was implemented was 56.8% Asian, 18.3% Caucasian, 11.5% Latino, and about 2% African-American. Admission was based on merit, not race.

However, of the 620 first-year students admitted through the lottery system, nearly 1 in 4 (24.4%) received at least one letter grade of D or F in the semester, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

This is a triple increase from 7.9% in the fall of 2020 and 7.7% in the fall of 2019.

A substantial number of lottery students are barely hanging on.

Principal Joe Ryan Dominguez announced his resignation last month from the school district, and cited a lack of “well-organized systems, fiscal responsibility and sound instructional practices as the path towards equity.” Dominquez also attributed the rise in failing grades to “too many variables” and the matter is “too sensitive.”

“Over a year of distance learning, half of our student body new to in-person instruction at the high school level and absences among students/staff for COVID all explain this dip in performance,” Dominguez told the Chronicle. “It is important not to insinuate a cause on such a sensitive topic at the risk of shaming our students and teachers who have worked very hard in a difficult year.”

However, the blame on remote learning isn’t accurate. Lowell instituted remote learning back in the fall of 2020 and only 51 students, not 24.4% of the entire batch received a D or an F. That class was the last batch admitted through the merit-based system, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Upon reinstating Lowell’s merit-based admissions, the board also approved the creation of a task force to examine admissions policies, gather input, and later provide recommendations to improve the district’s high schools. Basically, figure out a way to end Asian dominance and work in another loophole to get rid of merit-based admissions again.

Feature Screenshot via KRON4

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