These posts are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.

Commentary: Diving deep into SchoolChoice

Originally posted on EdNewsColorado, June 29th, 2012. Copyright ©
Read here. Written by Robert Reichardt.

Researcher Robert Reichardt has taken a close look at data gleaned from Denver’s new SchoolChoice process, and he has discerned some interesting trends.

This year Denver Public Schools implemented a new process to facilitate students’ ability to choice out of their home schools. The process has been blogged about here, and covered by the Denver Post here. This article takes a deeper dive into the evaluation reports.

The new choice process consolidated over 60 different processes into one. A computer program was used to assign students to schools based on student preferences, number of available seats, and school preferences (e.g. siblings, residents, or auditions for Denver School of the Arts). A second round is open now through August 31, 2012 for students who are not happy with their current assignment or did not enter the first round.

A Transparency Committee of DPS administrators and principals along with community stakeholders was selected by A+ Denver to receive and interpret an evaluation report on the computer program used to make the assignments and a second on the information created by the choice process. A+ Denver also provides spreadsheets of choice data by school. I helped plan the second project.

Choice is intended to improve parental satisfaction and improve schools. It creates pressure to improve through demand for seats in “good” schools and declining enrollment in less-preferred schools. Demand is measured as either total requests, or first choice request per seat available in a school.

This demand measure is not perfect. The analysis shows these measures are influenced by factors such as grades with available seats in a school and whether a school is new.

So what did we learn from the evaluations?

The choice process worked. DPS was able to collect over 20,000 hand-written choice requests and implement a complex computer program to assign students to schools. …

To read the full article on the EdNews website click here