It's Time for High School Choice!

By Emily S. RSS Thu, October 13, 2022

Do you have teens in your life who will be attending high school in Philly next year? They’ve got options. It is time for High School choice selection!

The Philadelphia High School system is large, diverse, and has much to offer. Finding the right fit is key! The Free Library of Philadelphia’s LEAP team wants to help you find a high school that meets your student’s needs with Philly High School Choice.


The Philadelphia system consists of the School District of Philadelphia, charter schools, private schools, and parochial schools. This blog will focus on tuition-free high schools, namely the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) schools and charter high schools.

For SDP, the window for high school selection is currently open and will remain open until November 4th at 11:59 pm. 

There are 3 types of SDP schools: Special Admission, Citywide, and Neighborhood. 

  • Special Admission schools are open to all Philadelphia students but have criteria for admission.
  • Citywide schools are open to all Philadelphia students and often have a special focus, including Career and Technical Education programs. Citywide schools select students through a lottery. 
  • Neighborhood schools have a catchment area. Students in the catchment area are given preference. Neighborhood schools with available seats select additional students through a lottery. 

Charter Schools in Philadelphia work on their own timeline. However, a significant number of the charter schools use, are open for applications now, and share the deadline of January 23rd. All charter schools select students through a lottery system.

In-Person Events:

The Philly High School Fair will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (12th and Arch Street) on: 

  • Friday, October 14th from 4 pm to 7 pm
  • Saturday, October 15th from 10 am to 3 pm 

Attendance is free, but registration is required. Learn more or register online at Philly High School Fair.


Changes for this Year:

The pandemic has changed how we do things and high school selection is no different. The School District has announced a few changes to the selection process for this year.

  • There are no written assessment requirements for the Special Admission schools. 
  • PSSA scores are back. Special Admission schools will be using PSSA scores as part of their admissions criteria.
  • Carver, Central, Palumbo, and Masterman give priority to qualified students in the zip codes 19121, 19132, 19133, 19134, 19139, and 19140. 
  • You can find the admission requirements of individual SDP schools here


How the Free Library can help:

There are over 80 Philadelphia School District and charter schools. They offer courses ranging from Autobody Collision Repair to AP Macroeconomics, as well as a wide range of after school programs, sports, academic programs, and more. Some offer opportunities to earn college credit. Schools are located throughout the city, and they each have their own climate and culture. Families face a complex decision.

To help, the Free Library created an online sorting tool, On the website, families can input their own priorities to sort possible high school options. For example, you could search by:

  • Distance from home 
  • Graduation rates and college enrollment rates 
  • English-language-learner enrollment and graduation rates
  • Non-traditional teaching program options like project-based learning
  • CTE and vocational programs
  • School safety information (please see the next paragraph)

The website is updated each year using information provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the School District of Philadelphia. We use the most current information available to the public. Please note that, because of the pandemic, some information is a couple of years old. Specifically, information about school discipline and safety is pre-pandemic information. The information about school climate post-pandemic is not yet available to the public.

In addition to using the Philly High School Choice website, please direct any questions about high school selection to This email address is maintained by library staff. We do our best to answer your questions or connect you to someone who can.

Finding a school that fits your family’s needs is an important ingredient in your student’s progress. LEAP and the Free Library are here to help you succeed!


The Literacy Enrichment After-School Program (LEAP) provides free homework assistance, leads hands-on STEAM and humanities programs, and promotes a love of reading at libraries throughout the city. Thanks to LEAP Youth Advocate Bryan Belknap for his labors authoring this blog post and creating the Philly High School Choice website!

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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