Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A look back at school choice in New Orleans

Here's an article discussing IIPSC's work in New Orleans, in the Fall issue of Education Next:

The New Orleans OneAppCentralized enrollment matches students and schools of choice, By Douglas N. Harris, Jon Valant and Betheny Gross

"In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans families could choose from an assortment of charter, magnet, and traditional public schools. The city initially took a decentralized approach to choice, letting families submit an application to each school individually and allowing schools to manage their own enrollment processes. This approach proved burdensome for parents, who had to navigate multiple application deadlines, forms, and requirements. Moreover, the system lacked a mechanism for efficiently matching students to schools and ensuring fair and transparent enrollment practices. The city has since upped the ante with an unprecedented degree of school choice and a highly sophisticated, centralized approach to school assignment.

"Today, New Orleans families can apply to 89 percent of the city’s public schools by ranking their preferred schools on a single application known as the OneApp (see Figure 1). The city no longer assigns a default school based on students’ home addresses. Instead, a computer algorithm matches students to schools based on families’ ranked requests, schools’ admission priorities, and seat availability. Experience with the OneApp in New Orleans reveals both the significant promise of centralized enrollment and the complications in designing a system that is technically sound but clear to the public, and fair to families but acceptable to schools. The OneApp continues to evolve as its administrators learn more about school-choosing families and school-choosing families learn more about the OneApp. The approach remains novel, and some New Orleanians have misunderstood or distrusted the choice process. The system’s long-term success will require both continued learning and growth in the number of schools families perceive to be high-quality options."

see also Opening Doors: OneApp Improves Enrollment Process but Shows Need for More Good Schools

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