Friday, November 18, 2011

School Choice in Chicago

CPS Application Plan Moves Ahead

"The Chicago Board of Education approved a resolution Wednesday that would require all incoming 9th grade students to apply for entrance into the public school system next year and opens the door to an application process for all grades.
The resolution authorizes Chicago Public Schools officials to create a single application for the high school admissions process that could be introduced as early as the 2012-2013 school year and to develop a similar application for elementary school admissions.
Currently, students can enroll in their neighborhood school without applying. If they choose to go to a magnet, selective, charter or other school outside the neighborhood they live in, they must fill out separate applications.
It is not known if charter schools would be included on the application. District spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said the resolution is the first step in creating a common application and none of the specifics have been decided.
The resolution also calls for the district to contract with the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice, a non-profit school choice consultancy, to develop a “school choice matching system.” District officials did not elaborate on what the system would entail.
The current school application process can be dizzying and has spurred the creation of small consulting businesses to help parents navigate the system.
Jackson Potter, staff coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union, said Tuesday that the resolution raises questions about how the district will ensure that all students, especially those that are homeless or have unstable situations, are able to enroll in school.
The Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice has worked with other urban districts, such as New York and Boston, to overhaul their admissions processes. In New York, all 8th grade students are required to fill out an application and rank up to 12 schools they would like to attend. The district then sorts them based on their preferences. In Boston, all students submit an application, listing the schools they would like to attend. The district then assigns students based on their choice and a number of other considerations, such as how close they live to a school and if a sibling is already enrolled."

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