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How Should Students Be Grandfathered Under a New Assignment Plan?

Since BPS first announced their initial proposals for a new student assignment plan, grandfathering of current students has been a very hot topic. Of course, there's a clear tradeoff here. Grandfathering students (and possibly their siblings) with transportation could be very expensive. In fact, it could lead to transportation costs increasing under a new plan, at least temporarily. On the other hand, forcing thousands of students to switch schools in September of 2014 when the new plan takes effect would be extremely disruptive to families and schools.

BPS quickly stated that there would be grandfathering under a new plan. They are currently proposing to grandfather students in their current school through the final grade available in the school. Transportation would...

New Map: Student Locations by School

I added a new map today that allows you to select any school and see where its students live. You can choose any school including charters, parochial schools, private schools, and METCO schools and see where in Boston students attending the school live.

Let me know what you think and if there's any other BPS data you'd like to see plotted on a map.


A Potential Problem with BPS's Quality Measurement

As discussed in a previous post on measuring quality, BPS is currently using only MCAS scores to measure the quality of schools when evaluating potential new student assignment plans. They're calling the measure they're using a quadrant analysis. For each MCAS test BPS looks at two measures. One is a performance measure based on the percent of students who fell into the "advanced" or "proficient" categories. The other is a growth measure using the Student Growth Percentile...

EAC Meeting Review - 11/13/2012

Tonight's EAC meeting started with a discussion of how the committee would go about making their final recommendations. There was talk of trying to reach consensus, but the possibility of issuing a majority recommendation and one or more minority recommendations if consensus is not reached was also raised. One suggestion was that if there are more than two plans on the table when it's time to vote that the committee vote in rounds and drop the plan with the lowest vote total in each round. This would increase the chances of one plan reaching a majority. There was also discussion of the timeline and whether it could be met and what would be done if the committee could not finish in time. There was no decision reached on this.

The committee then moved on to the presentation of an...

Measuring Quality

As part of its efforts to devise a plan to improve the student assignment system, the External Advisory Committee created a definition of what constitutes a quality school. This is important as the EAC wants to ensure that any plan selected will provide children with equitable access to quality. Of course, there's no way to know whether access to quality is equitable if we don't know which schools are of high or low quality.

Furthermore, the EAC is now considering plans that would group schools or zones in a way that would provide equal access to quality. Again, it is not possible to do this if we can't measure quality in schools.

Here is the definition of quality developed by...

BPS Modifies Timeline for School Choice Plan

At last night's school committee meeting, BPS announced a revised timeline for choosing a new student assignment plan. The new timeline is as follows:

November 13: EAC meeting to review additional analysis on four models

Late November/Early December: EAC meeting to identify potential recommendation

Week of December 3: EAC community engagement on potential recommendation

December 10: EAC presents recommendations to Superintendent

December 19: Superintendent presents recommendation at School Committee meeting

Early January: School Committee community engagement on Superintendent's recommendation

Mid-January: School Committee...

MAPC Releases Important Clarification on Report on Equity

On October 12th the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) released an analysis of the school assignment plans proposed by BPS. The part of the analysis that got the most attention was a comparison between the new BPS proposals and the current plan. It indicated that the new proposals might improve equity for African American and Latino students over the current three zone plan.

On October 26th, MAPC released an important clarification to their original report (you can read the original report and the clarification). This clarification points out that the comparison in the original report was not apples-to-apples. It compared the...

EAC Chooses Plans to Submit to BPS for Evaluation

The EAC met today and decided on which plans they would like BPS to evaluate for further consideration by the committee. At this point, I think that one of these plans, possibly with some modifications, is highly likely to be recommended to the Superintendent by BPS.

The four plans submitted to BPS are:

The Grouped Schools Plan

This plan is from Peng Shi, a PhD candidate at MIT's Operations Research Center. In short, the plan calls for each student to have access to his or her four closest schools, any walk zone schools, plus any schools that are grouped with their nearby...

Meetings with John Connolly and Aaron Michlewitz

Last night I had an opportunity to have separate conversions with Aaron Michlewitz and John Connolly about school choice and other issues. The discussion with Michlewitz was brief and happened when he made the mistake of knocking on my door while canvassing the neighborhood for Elizabeth Warren. He asked if I had any issues on my mind and guess what I managed to come up with? I explained where the process stands and told him what I was really looking for was more time to develop the plans that are currently on the table. I'd love to see elected officials put some pressure on BPS, the EAC and City Hall to modify the timeline, even if it's by a few weeks. He was very receptive, but of course it's a city issue not a state issue so I'm not sure where it will go.


Had an idea for a new plan in the shower this morning

So this morning in the shower I had an idea for a new student assignment plan. This plan would take Peng Shi's original Guaranteed Equal Access to Quality Plan and combine it with the BPS "no-zone" plan which has no choice element and basically assigns kids to the closest school with an available seat. One problem with Peng's original plan was that it involved a two-step registration process. First you would sign your child up for school but not choose a school. Later, BPS would provide you with a list of schools to choose from. This option removes that first step because there would be no choice. You would sign up and BPS would...


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