Questions for BPS about student assignment proposals
As I listened to BPS's presentation on the latest student assignment proposals last night, I made a list of several questions. Below is a list of items that I think we need answers to in order to better understand the impact of these proposals. I've already received answers to some of these which I've included in bold in case others have the same questions.
- Is it possible to use walking or driving distance instead of “as the crow flies” to calculate how far schools are from people's homes? In many cases the actual distance is not meaningful. Charlestown and East Boston are extreme cases, but others abound (opposite sides of Franklin Park, e.g.). This is more important when distance is used to create a choice menu. Also, won’t we will see more transportation savings if we use this measure? I spoke to Peng about this because I know he's been using Google Maps walking or driving distance in his analyses. He says BPS is resistant to this idea. They're concerned that Google changes directions based on road closings or for other reasons and results may be inconsistent. These are valid concerns, but I'd like to see them look into better ways to deal with this.
- There was talk at the meeting about how often BPS should change choice lists based on quality and capacity. Has there been any analysis of prior years to look at how much choice lists would have changed based on past capacity and quality shifts? Peng has not done this but agrees it could be done.
- Why are there more Tier I/II schools than Tier III? Is the percentile based on seats, not schools?
- Has there been further discussion on changing the walk zone mechanics? It’s important that everyone understand that 62% of students assigned in round one are from the walk zone so we’re getting more than 50%, not less. Also , walk zone seats would go up under any of these plans no matter what. It seems like BPS still wants to make this change. I made the point at the meeting that it's not necessary and there was a lot of discussion at the meeting.
- Can we see these analyses of the plans:
- By Socio-economic group
- By Race/Ethnicity
- Chances of children in different groups and neighborhoods getting a Tier I seat, chances of getting Tier IV seat.
- A map similar to previously produced showing distribution of quality seats throughout the city for the current plan and proposed plans. It sounds like this will be part of the full technical support which should be available soon.
- Are comparisons to current plan also based on only 1st round offers or all students? BPS says yes, but I'd like to confirm that this is true for all comparisons.
- When will we see the full technical report? BPS was asked this by an EAC member but didnt' have an answer.
- Under the Middle School Pathway, BPS says that parents could apply for seats in other Middle Schools, not just the school their elementary school feeds into. Which schools could parents apply to? There doesn’t seem to be any plan to give families choice lists of middle schools. Also, what about kids who are grandfathered? If my child is in 4th grade in a K-5 now, can he or she attend the middle school that school feeds into even if it’s not close to my home? If not, which middle schools can I choose from?
If you have more questions for BPS or if you have the answers to any of these, post them in the comments.