Teachers and parents love how fast the dismissal line goes now. I asked for feedback from our teachers towards the end of the year, and it was all very positive! Both homeroom teachers and the Special Areas who assist with carpool were very positive about the system as a whole. Parents, teachers and administrators are loving the new system.
About one in five students at public high schools in Boston are at least two years behind academically, a situation that could derail their chances of earning a diploma. The findings highlight the challenges Boston faces in guaranteeing quality schools close to home for all students regardless of demographic background or ZIP code.
To achieve this, Boston did away with traditional school attendance boundaries drawn on a map and adopted what was billed as a revolutionary computer program developed by MIT researchers that provides students a range of choices within a certain proximity of their home.
Under the system, approved by the School Committee in and implemented a year later, students are guaranteed at least six school choices of varying quality and can Assignment 1 school paper select any other school within an approximately 1-mile radius of their home.
If there are not enough quality choices close to home, the algorithm will fill in the gap by adding choices that are farther away.
The system replaced a nearly year-old court-approved desegregation plan, and it was considered a victory for then-Mayor Thomas M. Menino, attracting national media attention. Advertisement The findings add to the challenges facing newly appointed interim Superintendent Laura Perille, and for the first time ties her to a policy decision she had a hand in developing.
Perille sat on the member external advisory committee that vetted the assignment system and was part of the majority that recommended it to the School Committee for approval. She presented the report to the committee Monday night. While the current [assignment system] might be viewed as a big step forward, what the equity analysis shows us is that implementation is not all the way there.
They questioned whether disadvantaged students would actually gain access to them and have been awaiting the analysis. Adding further complexities to the debate is disagreement among educators, parents, students, and other advocates on what constitutes a quality school.
Some prefer strict reliance on test scores; others opt for a more nuanced assessment that takes into consideration whether schools offer art, music, physical education, freshly prepared lunches, after-school programs, and the like.
Kevin Murray of Quality Education for Every Student, a grass-roots parent organization, said many parents and advocates knew the new system was dangerous from the start.
Somebody has to apologize to people who had only 5 percent access to high-performing schools. But he said any changes will likely stir deep conversations. For instance, to improve the chances that disadvantaged students will get into a high-quality or medium-quality school in neighborhoods with lots of students living in them, officials may need to provide them with more such schools — which might mean making fewer choices available to students in other parts of the city.
The researchers examined admission for kindergarten and sixth-grade students for the, and school years. An analysis of kindergarten admissions revealed the new system was causing an increase in segregation in schools, one that was not dramatic, but significant enough to warrant further monitoring.
Hill, coauthor of the report and professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said the intense competition for the relatively small number of high-quality seats in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan caused fewer students from those neighborhoods to get their first choice of a school.
Instead, those students often ended up attending schools in the bottom half of performance. For instance, parents seeking schools for sixth-graders often were not given any high-quality options. The report did find that the school system made progress in achieving its goal of reducing travel distances to schools, which school officials hope will help rein in escalating transportation costs.
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