Wednesday, March 25, 2015

School choice and medical residency matching in Forbes

I was in New York City yesterday for an IIPSC-organized conference on school choice, and it was a nice coincidence to see that Forbes had an article on school choice and other matching processes, that mentions IIPSC.

Prerna Sinha writes about deferred acceptance algorithms, in the medical match and in NYC high school choice: Quantifying Harmony: The Matchmaking Algorithm That Pairs Residents With Hospitals, Students With Schools

"In 2003 Professor Roth (Stanford), who has played a major role in the dissemination of the deferred acceptance algorithm, worked with Atila Abdulkadiroglu (Duke) and Parag Pathak (M.I.T.) to replace the broken high school match system that was previously in place in New York City.Roth realized similar to a stable marriage or residency-student match, a high school-student match would work if individuals and schools were permitted to select alternative options after their most preferred options were rejected.

He is confident that the deferred acceptance algorithm provides a significant improvement over the system that was previously in place, but he believes the school choice system could work better. He clarified, “... there is a problem with how to disseminate information to families about schools.” He also suggested that there would be less congestion and it would be a more efficient process if all charter schools and private schools participated too.
 Roth continues to work closely with Neil Dorosin, who was the director of high-school admissions in New York City at the time of the redesign. Dorosin is now the Executive Director of Institute of Innovation in Public School Choice (IIPSC), and Roth sits on the advisory board. IIPSC is a team of specialists in the design and implementation of enrollment and school choice systems. The organization helps communities integrate the latest market design research and technology to solve school choice problems.

Roth calls Dorosin the “Johnny Appleseed” of getting systems like the one in NYC into New Orleans, Denver, and Washington.

Dorosin told FORBES, “Public school choice, this two sided matching market where there are two interested parties (schools and students), exists all over the country, in every big city and most small cities too. In most cases the systems that are set up to organize that two sided matching market, unintentionally, are failing. Failing the kids and the families that are supposed to use them, failing the systems of schools that are supposed to be administering them.”

Private dealings between parents and schools, limited resources and information for some parties, and congestion caused by lack of centralized communication are examples of market malfunctions that lead to disorganized systems.

According to Dorosin, the market design approach (deferred acceptance) addresses the central problem of matching students with schools: high school seats are a scarce resource that needs to be allocated efficiently and transparently in a manner that allows students and parents to feel safe when participating.

Parents and students need to feel safe in listing their preferential choice of schools, free of fear that ranking School A as a top choice will hurt their chances of getting into School B, their second choice. Efficiency involves getting optimal results on the first try and avoiding numerous offers or back and forth between parties. Transparency would allow lottery numbers, school information, and reports about outcomes to be easily accessible by all in a centralized location.

Dorosin says, “These are the elements that lead to a better system. We call this universal enrollment.”

The deferred acceptance algorithm, which is the basis of Dorosin’s universal enrollment concept, has a proven track record with the students of New York City and medical residents across the country. It may yet have applications beyond those it has now. At the very least, you can expect urban districts around the country and possibly around the world to continue to adopt some of the principles."

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