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Update on How BPS is Measuring Quality

Back in November I wrote a post describing my concerns with the way BPS was measuring quality. BPS has changed the way they're doing this, so I wanted to post an update.

My main concern with the "quadrant analysis" that BPS was using was that it only looked at whether a score was above average or below average. It didn't see any difference between a school with exceptional scores and one with slightly above average scores. On the flip side, it saw a big difference between a school that was slightly above average and a school that was slightly below average.

Of course, the fact that BPS is using only...

Review of Community Meeting at Orchard Gardens

Last night, BPS held a community meeting to present and get feedback on the latest proposals for student assignment. There was a good turnout, according to the Globe story on the meeting, around 250 people attended.

Carleton Jones and Tim Nicolette of BPS presented the plans and some analysis. The presentation was similar to this one from the January 23rd EAC meeting, but with less detail. They did not explain in...

Some Details on How MIT Evaluated the Proposed Assignment Plans

By now you may have read my posts about the MIT report evaluating the three proposed student assignment plans for Boston. I know that people are often interested in how the numbers are calculated, so here's my attempt to clarify the data and methods used as much as possible. Note that I am using information from the various MIT reports, some discussions I've had about this with Peng, and my own intuition to describe this process. It's possible I have some things wrong.

First, it's important to understand exactly what information the researchers looked at. They looked at Round 1 school choice data for K1 and K2 for the school years starting in 2011 and 2012. They started by looking at choices in 2011 only and trying to use various variables to predict...

More on the MIT Report on Proposed Assingment Plans

I've had some more time to look at the MIT report on the three proposed student assignment plans. Here are some additional thoughts.

The report looks at how the plans would affect socio-economic and racial diversity in schools. In all cases, the new plans would reduce diversity somewhat. This is likely because they limit families' choices to smaller geographic areas. Given the smaller areas and the fact that none of these plans is specifically designed to promote diversity, it's not surprising that they reduce it.

None of the changes are huge, but the reduction of socio-economic diversity seems significant. The way to look at this is to look at the variance in percentages...

EAC Meeting Review - 1/31/2013

The EAC met last night to discuss various topics. The meeting started with a discussion of scheduling. There is already a community meeting scheduled for Monday at 6 pm at the Orchard Gardens school. On Tuesday, the EAC will hear public comment from 6 - 7 pm at Suffolk, then have a working meeting from 7-8:30. At the working meeting they will likely try to get through the rest of their recommendation memo.

It looks like they will meet again on Thursday for discussion and debate on the three proposed plans. The tentative plan is for the committee to vote on a plan to recommend on Saturday morning, February 9th. They currently have a room held at City Hall, but may try to find a bigger space.

Miren Uriarte...

Initial Thoughts on MIT Report on Proposed Assignment Plans

MIT has now released a report with a tremendous amount of detail on their simulation of the three proposed student assignment plans. There are three files. The main report is 51 pages. There is also a 27 page technical appendix and a 137 page graphical appendix. So to say there's a lot to digest here would be an understatement.

I've read through the main report and skimmed the other two. I doubt that many people will find the technical appendix useful as it is indeed quite technical. The main report and graphical appendix are more accessible, though still fairly complex. In particular, I would recommend to anyone reading the report that you read as much of the detail on what each...

Important Community Meetings Next Week

As we near the end of the process of selecting a new student assignment plan for Boston, community members will have a chance to give the External Advisory Committee feedback on the proposed plans. This will likely be your last opportunity to give feedback on these plans before the EAC votes on their final recommendation.

The Boston School Commitee will likely hold hearings on the plans, but once the EAC has made a recommendation, it will be politically difficult for significant changes to be made given the process the EAC has gone through.

The first meeting will be Monday, February 4th from 6:00 -...

Exploring the Home-Based School Plans

Last week BPS released three proposals for potential new student assignment plans. The 10 zone plan looks very much like the current plan, but with more zones. It's fairly easy to look at the map and understand which schools you could choose from if this plan were chosen.

The other two plans are more complex. To help people see what schools would be available to them, and to be able to explore them myself, I created a tool that allows you to enter an address and see what schools would be available under the two home-based plans. In addition, you can double-click on any point on the map to see what schools would be available to someone living at that...

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...

EAC Meeting Review - 1/23/2013

Tonight's EAC meeting definitely got a lot more attention than any previous meeting. I would estimate that around four times as many people attended as in prior meetings. There was a pretty good media presence with reporters from the Dorchester Reporter, Boston Globe, NECN, BNN, and maybe others. BPS Superintendent Carol Johnson was there along with School Committee chair Michael O'Neill. Also there were my state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and possibly my future district city councilor Suzanne Lee.

Most of the meeting was taken up by a presentation by BPS on the three new...


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