Wednesday, November 30, 2011

School Choice and Education Reform at Brookings

The Brookings Institute hosts a session on School Choice and Education Reform, featuring Joel Klein, who was chancellor of New York City schools when the high school choice plan there was revamped.

"Large numbers of parents choose where their children are educated by moving to a school district or neighborhood that gives them access to good public schools, but school selection through residential choice is not an option for parents who are poor or unable to relocate. These parents are forced to take whatever is available to them through their local school district, and the schools that serve them do not have to worry about competition. While some districts are satisfied with this status quo, others have embraced policies that make school choice widely available and expose schools to the consequences of their popularity.

"On November 30, the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings will host a discussion exploring the critical role of school choice in the future of education reform. Senior Fellow and Brown Center Director Russ Whitehurst will preview the Education Choice and Competition Index – an interactive web application that will score large school districts based on thirteen categories of policy and practice – and announce the Index’s initial rankings of the 25 largest school districts in America. 

"Following his remarks, Joel Klein, the executive vice president of News Corporation and the former New York City Schools chancellor, will deliver a keynote address offering his reflections on the successes and challenges surrounding the expansion of public school choice in New York City"

The Brookings Institute has also published a companion website and report: The Education Choice and Competition Index: Background and Results 2011. The report contains a ranking of school choice plans around the country.

One of the criteria is the "Assignment Mechanism
Our framework places considerable emphasis on the processes by which students are assigned to schools, treating it as a major category for evaluating choice and competition.  The antithesis of choice is an assignment mechanism based on residence, with little or no chance of parents being able to enroll their child in a school other than the one in their neighborhood. In contrast, the paragon of assignment systems is one in which students are assigned to schools through an application process in which parents express their preferences and those preferences are maximized.  We score districts based on where they stand with respect to these two poles. "
The report is here: The Education Choice and Competition Index: Background and Results 2011.

And it's conclusion (drumroll....) is

"The high score overall goes to New York City, with Chicago in second place.
Both received letter grades of B. The low score goes to Orange County, Florida,
which received a grade of  D. New York  performed  particularly  well in  its
assignment mechanism,  its provision of relevant performance data,  and  its
policies and practices for restructuring or closing unpopular schools.  Chicago, in
contrast to New York, has more alternative schools, a greater proportion of
school funding that is student-based, and superior web-based information and
displays to support school choice.  If the best characteristics of Chicago were
transferred to New York and vice versa, both would receive letter grades of A."

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