Tonight’s student assignment meeting should be interesting!

Tonight’s meeting of the Board’s ad-hoc Committee on Student Assignment should be interesting stuff (the agenda is posted here). We are scheduled to hear a presentation from a group of researchers from Harvard, Duke MIT and Stanford (the same group that presented in October on various choice mechanisms).  Tonight’s presentation will focus on the results of simulations conducted on the six options currently being explored by the Board, using Round I and Round II request data from earlier years. I’ve seen a draft of the presentation — it’s very information-dense, and comes to some interesting conclusions.  (Update: the presentation is now posted).

In addition, we’ll hear the preliminary results of a qualitative study conducted by Stanford researcher Prudence Carter. Professor Carter’s study is based on interviews conducted with students, teachers and administrators at 24 schools across the district.

It’s important to note here that we have received tremendous financial and logistical support for this whole redesign effort — from local foundations like the Hellman Family Foundation and the Zellerbach Foundation, from Stanford University,  and other funders like the Council of Great City Schools, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the U.S. Department of Education. Given the current budget crisis, this level of thoughtful and careful analylsis would have been impossible without the help we’ve received from these groups.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the Board room at 555 Franklin Street. The meeting will also be televised locally on SFGTV (Channels 26 or 78) and streamed online at the SFGTV web site.  Meetings are usually archived here after 24-48 hours.

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3 responses to “Tonight’s student assignment meeting should be interesting!

  1. Thanks for the comment! I think you might be interested in the technical explanations of the work this group has done on school choice systems in New York and in Boston. There’s a link from this post on their blog.

  2. This is an excellent presentation! The assignment system design should be guided by this systematic study rather than having the committee to tweak the rules to react to angry parents and politics. This should be as important as the TEP study done for MUNI.

    It confirms my observation that the SFUSD system has been mistakenly viewed as a lottery system. It is not a lottery in the mathematical sense of randomness. It is a lottery only because the rules are so complex and intransparent. Parents tried hard to game the system but the outcome is unpredictible, thus it looks like a lottery to them. As shown in this study, a true random lottery system’s result is actually pretty good. It is much simpler, much more transparent. And it saves the parents headache from trying to game the system.

    This study has not measured how well are students assigned to nearby schools. Nor is this ever seems to be a goal of SFUSD. I think it should be consider as one of the measurement of the assignment system. An easy communte greatly improve the quality of life of parents and students, reduce the angst of traffic and parking and increase parent participation in school, not to mention it reduces carbon emission. It everything else being equal, we should favor a system with local preference.

  3. Rachel, I look forward to reading your notes on the meeting. Public educational options are top of mind for me, as I figure out if we should buy in SF or move out of the city (we have a 2 year old). Uncertainty around public school placement is the primary reason we are considering a move into the suburbs. Clarity on the new policy can’t come soon enough!