2019-20 Timeline for Choosing an Elementary/Middle School

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It’s never too soon to start looking for the right school. Some schools require you to apply nearly a full year before the start of the school year. This is the case with all of the School District of Philadelphia’s citywide and special-admission middle schools. Some schools also have an extensive admissions process.

For the 2019-20 school year, the District’s School Selection Process will include neighborhood schools with available seats and citywide/special-admission middle schools. The application for this process will be online only. Computer kiosks will be available for families who do not have internet access at regionally based Learning Network Offices and the Office of Student Enrollment and Placement, located at 440 North Broad Street, Suite 111. Parents can also utilize computer resources at their local Free Library branch.


Two to Three Years Before Enrolling in Kindergarten (children ages 2-3)

Use GreatPhillySchools.org or the 2019 Print Guide to begin your school search.

If you’re interested in a school with a prekindergarten program, start this process a year earlier. To search for a high quality preschool or early childhood program, visit GreatPhillySchools: Early Childhood Education.


Two Years Before Enrolling in Kindergarten 

Attend open houses to tour and gain information about the schools. These events are usually held in the spring. 

Visit the schools that seem as though they might be a good fit and speak with principals, teachers, and parents. Use our guide to school visits for sample questions and tips.


The Year Before Enrolling in Kindergarten/Middle School or Changing Schools


Schools work with students to review their academic records and admissions criteria (if any) at various schools. The district's elementary and middle school list can be found at philasd.org/offices/studentplacement.

The School Selection student application will be available at schoolselect.philasd.org from September 21, 2018 to November 2, 2018. District students will be able to access the application through the parent/student online portal by entering their student ID and password. Non-district students will be able to access the application through a link on the main page of the district’s website. Students can select up to five schools. 

All students and families can access school selection resources at philasd.org/offices/studentplacement.

Counselors and teachers may hold information sessions to help parents and students choose schools and complete the online student application. Parents should ask principals for information about assistance in completing the online student application.

Private schools (independent and Catholic) begin to hold open houses.

Some schools allow prospective applicants to visit and shadow students. Families should contact schools directly.

After you decide which charter schools you want to apply to, the next step is to fill out a short, online application called Apply Philly Charter (applyphillycharter.org). A full list of charter schools participating in Apply Philly Charter will be made available on greatphillyschools.org in July 2018.

Private schools begin to accept applications and hold entrance and scholarship exams. (Read more about applying to Catholic schools and independent private schools.)

Attend the 2018 Philly K-8 Fair on October 27, 2018 from 10 am to 1 pm at Girard College to speak with representatives from District, charter, and private schools and learn more about your K-8 options. 

Children's Scholarship Fund holds its first scholarship lottery in September 2018 at their Application Launch party for parents considering private K-8 schools. The application period for CSFP scholarships for the 2019-20 school year will officially re-open after the launch party in September 2018.

By November 2

The District's School Selection application is due November 2, 2018 at 5 pm. Families are encouraged to not wait until the last day; opening an account in the SDP portal takes multiple days to finalize. Once a family opens an account, they will have to wait a few days for a confirmation email. If a family opens an account the day the application is due, they will not get the confirmation email in time to submit their application. Learn more about how to apply to a District school.

Any parent wishing to enroll in a District kindergarten program other than his/her neighborhood school must apply using the district's online application at schoolselect.philasd.org by November 2. Only schools with additional space will be accepting applications. 

Non-district students who applied to district middle schools with admissions criteria must deliver transcripts and any required supplemental materials, such as essays, directly to the schools.

Any other students looking to transfer between district schools must also fill out the district's transfer application at schoolselect.philasd.org. Only schools with additional space will be accepting transfer applications. 


Schools with admissions criteria begin to evaluate applications and conduct interviews and auditions.

District Special-admission middle schools make acceptance, rejection and wait-list decisions.

Kindergarten registration begins in the School District of Philadelphia. Register early to ensure a placement at your school as some schools fill up quickly.

Citywide middle schools choose the students who qualify to enter into the admissions lottery.

The District’s Office of Student Enrollment and Placement and Office of Information Technology run three separate computerized lotteries (for general education, special education and ELs) for acceptance to citywide and neighborhood schools.

All charter schools accepting applications at Apply Philly Charter (applyphillycharter.org) have deadlines on January 28, 2018. Charter schools not participating in Apply Philly Charter may also have deadlines during this time. For more information, visit greatphillyschools.org.

Some charter schools will hold their lotteries during this time and notify parents of their application status. Charter schools with the deadline of January 31, 2019 will hold their lotteries no later than February 28, 2019. 

Most private schools release acceptance, rejection and wait-list decisions.

Starting in February 

Parents can begin to register their child for kindergarten for the 2019-20 school year in their neighborhood school. 

Register early to ensure a placement at your neighborhood school.


District notifies students about initial status. Students are expected to select their preferred school within two weeks.

Children's Scholarship Fund holds its second scholarship lottery for parents considering private K-8 schools. The final deadline to apply for a scholarship is March 1, 2019. 

Families who applied to charter schools not participating in Apply Philly Charter may continue to receive admissions decisions during this time.


District collaborates with schools to fill vacancies from wait lists and notifies students about final status.

GreatPhillySchools collects open seat information from charter and private schools and publishes that information to help families who are still searching for a school. Click here to learn more about open seats.

Learn more about the application & selection process by clicking here.

More Information

Looking for more information on finding a great school? See all articles here.