Thursday, December 21, 2017

School choice among different kinds of schools

Chalkbeat on the changing face of school districts, and the role played by universal-enrollment school choice:

A ‘portfolio’ of schools? How a nationwide effort to disrupt urban school districts is gaining traction

"Several years ago, Indianapolis Public Schools looked like a lot of urban school districts. The vast majority of students attended traditional public schools, though enrollment was dwindling, and the district had an adversarial relationship with its small but growing number of charter schools.
"That’s no longer true. The district is actively turning over schools to charter operators, and it’s rolling out a common enrollment system for district and charter schools that could make it easier for charters to grow. Nearly half of the district’s students now attend charters or district schools with charter-like freedoms.
"A growing number of philanthropists, advocates, and policymakers say the way to improve schools is to upend the traditional school district. Usually pointing to the same cities as models — Indianapolis, along with Denver, New Orleans, and Washington D.C. — they want to see more charter schools and more district schools run like charter schools.
"Another piece of the portfolio playbook is supporting enrollment systems that allow families to easily choose among district and charter schools.
"Adding new schools and new choices can make things harder on parents, who must navigate several enrollment processes to make a choice and get assigned to a school. Common enrollment systems create a single place to navigate it all — while also ensuring that all parents are exposed to new schools, and making it especially clear to district leaders which schools are attracting the fewest students.
“In addition to efficiency for families, unified enrollment helps the system make better decisions about which schools to replicate, recruit, incubate, scale, and maximize and, perhaps, where to locate them,” according to an Education Cities report.
"Denver, New Orleans, and Washington D.C. all have common enrollment systems, and Indianapolis just adopted one. In Denver, the use of a streamlined system did in fact increase enrollment in charters among low-income students and English-language learners, though in New Orleans parents said it was actually harder to navigate initially."

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