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Revisiting data on high school admission rates

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The Notebook has learned that some data provided to it by the District on the percentage of applicants admitted to selective and citywide admission high schools may have been erroneous. As a result, the chart on page 7 of the Fall Guide may give a potentially distorted picture of how hard it is to be admitted to some schools.

The chart compared the total number of students who applied with the total approved and the spaces available, and calculated the percentage of applicants admitted. The numbers were received from the Office of Student Placement.

Officials at three schools have disputed the "total approved" number provided by the District, saying that they actually offered admission to many more students than indicated by the original numbers.

The Notebook spoke with Central High School Principal Sheldon Pavel before publication and used his figures in the chart, not the District’s. For the rest of the schools, the Notebook used the District’s numbers.

Pavel’s numbers showed that Central actually admits nearly one-quarter of the students who apply, making it seem less selective than many other schools.

Since publication, personnel at two other schools, Parkway Center City and Palumbo, have informed the Notebook that they, too, admitted a higher percentage of students than indicated by the District and reflected in the chart – in both cases, about four times as many.

The Notebook has been seeking clarification from the District for the past several weeks, hoping to correct the record while this year’s eighth graders are in the process of making the crucial decision of where to apply. We will keep you updated as soon as we hear back.

In the meantime, please let us know if the figure for your school in the Fall Guide chart does not reflect the actual number of students offered admittance.

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