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BPS Presentation to Boston City Council

I received a scan of the presentation that BPS made to the City Council yesterday. I assume that BPS will post this soon, but I wanted to make it available to anyone who wants a preview. I'm not sure if this is identical to what will be presented to the EAC, but it might be.

Much of what's here is already on the BPS site, but there is also a small amount of analysis of the plans. Based on this it looks like all the plans do better than the current plan as far as equity and distance from home, but the information on equity is very limited. Also, note that some of the bar charts are deceptive because they don't start at zero...

BPS Releases Three New Student Assignment Proposals

Today, BPS released three new student assignment proposals. The first is a 10 zone plan which is essentially the same as the current plan but with new zones. The zones generally follow neighborhood boundaries, but some neighborhoods would be split. The zones contain a wide range as far as the number of schools offered. Zone 2, which includes Beacon Hill, Central Boston, and Charlestown, has only three schools. Zone 7, which contains most of Dorchester and Mattapan has 14. As it is now, families could choose schools in their walk zone (within one mile) regardless of zone.

The other two plans are two variations of what BPS calls "Home-Based" plans. Each of these plans would assign a custom...

EAC Meeting Review - 1/14/2013

The meeting started with a presentation by Dr. Tayfun Sönmez, an economics professor from BC on the effects of walk zone priority. A study by professors at BC and MIT and others shows that walk zone only results in slightly more students ending up in walk zone schools than an algorithm that doesn't give any walk zone priority. Their research was on K1 and K2 seats assigned in the first assignment round from 2009 through 2012. For K2, they find that 48.5% of kids assigned to schools live in the walk zone. If BPS eliminated walk zone priority, 47.3% would come from the walk zone. This is a suprisingly small difference. K1 also shows a very small difference.

This phenomenon is due to the order in which walk zone and open...

Registering for K2? You should probably check the new box

Last week, BPS announced a change to the school registration system. This change only applies to K2 registration.

First, a little background. For all grades after kindergarten, if a child isn't assigned to any of the schools his or her family selected, the child is "administratively assigned" by BPS to the school closest to the child's home with an available seat. Of course, if all schools close the child's home are popular, the closest school could be fairly far away. But at least an administratively assigned student has a seat. This hasn't applied to kindergarten. In the past, children applying for...

EAC Meeting Review - 01/07/2013

The EAC met last night to continue editing their memo detailing recommendations to the Superintendent. The meeting started with some planning for future meetings. The committee will meet next Monday, 1/14 to hear a presentation from BPS on details of the current assignment algorithm. They will meet again on 1/23 to hear a presentation from the technical team on the "demand model" which will attempt to predict how parents would choose schools under various plans. An additional meeting might be scheduled for 1/28 or 1/31.

The EAC is now planning to vote on a final recommendation the first week of February. Most likely 2/5 or 2/7.

The meeting then moved on to further discussion of the memo the committee is working on with their...

EAC Meeting Review - 12/13/2012

The main agenda item for tonight's meeting was to discuss a draft of the recommendations (summarized here) that the EAC will submit to the superintendent. While the committee is still waiting for further analysis before recommending any particular plan, they have written a document with their priorities for a new plan and several recommendations around student assignment.

The most newsworthy portion of the meeting was a recommendation on sibling grandfathering. Carleton Jones of BPS presented BPS's recommendation that siblings be grandfathered and receive transportation through the 2019-20 school year. BPS has done...

Optimizing for Choice

There's been a lot of talk during the school assignment reform process about optimizing plans for various factors. These include equity, diversity, proximity to home, etc. One factor that hasn't been discussed very much is the optimal number of school choices.

The current assignment plan offers lots of choices. The average parent applying for K2 for 2013 will have around 30 schools to choose from. To me this seems like too many choices. Nobody is likely to actually visit 30 schools. I've spoken to a couple of people who actually tried to visit all of their choices, but didn't come very close.

On the other hand, most parents do seem to prefer having choices rather than a plan where you'd just be assigned to a nearby school based on your address. So what is the optimal number of choices...

EAC Meeting Review - 12/06/2012

The EAC met last night to hear a presentation on the progress made by Peng Shi and others towards creating a demand model among other items. Here are the major items discussed.

Data validation

Laura Perille, co-chair of the EAC data sub-committee, presented a brief report on efforts to validate the data that BPS and the EAC have been using. This evaluation is being led by a professor at Babson who specializes in data modeling and data quality management. So far, his team has validated the student and school choice data sets. They have also validated the integration of data on students and schools. Work on...

Merge the District and Charter Assignment Processes

As the number of charter schools increase, they become an increasingly large factor in public education in Boston. However, each charter school has its own lottery which any child in the city can enter. This makes it difficult for parents who want to apply to BPS and several charter schools. Parents must fill out one application for BPS and another for each charter school. It also means that a district school and one or more charter schools may accept the same child. This creates chaos when school starts and kids don't show up. BPS waits five days after school starts to start admitting kids from the wait list to fill slots left by children who didn't show. It also requires complicated and expensive busing to accommodate students from all over the...

EAC Meeting Review 11/29/2012 - Deadline Extended

The big news from tonight came before the EAC meeting when BPS sent out an e-mail saying that the deadline for the EAC to choose a plan has been extended through January. BPS has decided that they really need the demand model that MIT is working on in order to evaluate plans. They expect to be able to give the EAC their analysis in mid-January which will give the committee very little time to select a plan to recommend.

As for the meeting, it started with brief presentation from Carleton Jones on how BPS will work with MIT...


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