DPS SchoolChoice Findings: An Outsider’s Perspective

In January 2012, the SchoolChoice Transparency Committee was created to receive and interpret two separate third party (The University of Colorado Denver) reports analyzing the SchoolChoice process and data. The committee is made up of school leaders (with representation from charter, magnet, and traditional schools), district leaders, and third- party community stakeholders. Members were selected by A+ Denver and DPS and have SchoolChoice background knowledge.

This letter addresses the University of Colorado Denver’s first analysis, which examined the methods of assigning students to schools (see Appendix). The purpose of the initial algorithmic analysis was to ensure the SchoolChoice system upheld all entrance criteria and priorities for all schools and that the procedures set serve the needs of both students and schools in a fair and transparent manner.

Dr. Gary Kochenberger, a professor and co-director of UCD’s Decision Science program, spearheaded the first analysis. He was selected based on his experience in designing and testing algorithms for large-scale optimization problems. Dr. Kochenberger spent a number of days inside DPS’s offices working with the team that designed the algorithm, watching the algorithm as it was tested for functionality, and asking related questions. His report (see Appendix) provides a detailed description of his process, what he was looking for, what he observed and when he observed it. Dr. Kochenberger also included analysis of the coding of the algorithm for completeness and explained the procedures of the algorithm in a step-by-step process.