Give input on the new assignment system!

Orla O’Keeffe, the district staff person in charge of implementing our new assignment system, asked me to post this link to a survey she is using to gather input from families.  Specifically, the survey asks how many choices families should be able to list on the new assignment application form (currently families are allowed to list seven choices).

Wait! Didn’t we say families could list as many or as few choices as they wished under a new system? That was the proposal from the Stanford economists who are helping us design the choice algorithm, and the new system will absolutely not penalize/advantage families for the number of school choices they list. (Currently, families who list fewer than seven choices get a lower wait pool priority, which has led to many people listing high-demand schools to “fill out” their application.)

But Orla and her staff are worried about overwhelming families by giving them too many choices on the application form, or encouraging people to list more schools than they really want. So the purpose of the survey is to gather input about how many choices feels “right” to families.

For the record, when Orla asked me, I suggested we give as many spaces as will comfortably “fit” on the application form (10 feels about right to me as an arbitrary number), and give families who want to list more schools than that the option of attaching an additional sheet with additional ranked school choices. (And just to pack the ballot box, I took the survey and made that suggestion again).

Here’s your chance! Fill out the survey >>>>>>>


8 responses to “Give input on the new assignment system!

  1. “Currently we get 7 and we can still it seems the vast majority get zero for seven (I know the official stats say otherwise but lack of transparency and my own informal survey, have ’caused me to not believe SFUSD stats).”

    My informal surveys last year made me believe it was higher percentage getting one of their choices. And that was with most listing immersion. Only one out of our social circle didn’t get placed either in Round 1 or off the waitpool. Some were placed the week before or several weeks into the school year. This year, the non-sibs getting 1/7 was about 70%, which was slightly better than last years 68%.

    I appreciate it’s stressful, but it will work out. But you’ll have to be strategic about what you waitlist.

  2. “Why is the income, location and ethnicity relevant in this survey?”

    So e.g. they can normalize (balance) the data if the population responding is skewed. Or do outreach to populations underrepresented in the survey.

    Myself, I think 5 is the ideal number of choices. Much more, and it’ll be overwhelming for people.

  3. Chris,

    Imagine that you are the person who are given the task to implement the system, how would you approach it.

    Yes, there will be a form. The form will have fixed number of lines. Please don’t see the question is stupid. You will complain loudly if there are only 2 lines, or if there are 20. Ideally, most families can fit everything on one form. Additional forms introduce more chance for errors.

    And Rachel’s response makes sense. They need to get feedback from the whole community. Some people are under-represented online, so they need to be reached by other means.

  4. Hi Potrero Hill Dad – I think the staff is trying to be as open to input as possible. After all, I fully believe that if they arbitrarily decided on a number without doing a survey, they’d be accused of failing to engage the community.
    The reason for asking race, income, etc. on this survey is simply to get a sense of who they’re reaching online.

  5. I appreciate your blog, but if SFUSD wants input, they should ask questions that may be helpful in creating the new algorithm, the current assignment system is flawed and not transparent.
    Also when I said better school district it came out bad, I mean better for us.
    But I am pissed at the way SFUSD assigns schools , I believe very little that I am told anymore by SFUSD. We spent weeks researching schools, visiting schools, and we didn’t pick only the best so when you say Chill bare that in mind.
    If the new algorithm is not yet written you have 1 year, to write, test, deploy. Good luck with that (but I suspect it will be flawed)

  6. Potrero Hill Dad

    Wow. A survey to determine how many line items should be on a form. I think your suggestion of a separate page or adding the option to add more schools on the back of a page or the final page of the application makes sense…. but a survey to determine how many lines should go on a form? Really? How about the font? Style?

    Why is the income, location and ethnicity relevant in this survey?

  7. Chris! Chill! The new assignment system will not consider anything like income or family education – the survey is asking for some information about respondents so that staff can see who they are “reaching” online and who they need to engage differently. I understand it is very difficult to be 0/7 but this survey is about the new system — not the old one. The algorithm for the new system isn’t even written yet.

  8. How is the survey helpful?
    It initially asks you race, income etc. The second part only asks how many choices? Currently we get 7 and we can still it seems the vast majority get zero for seven (I know the official stats say otherwise but lack of transparency and my own informal survey, have ’caused me to not believe SFUSD stats).
    The survey does not ask if commute to school should be considered. No question about whether pre-school should be considered, no questions about income, family education should be considered in the school assignments, or home language considerations.
    What do they expect to get from this survey. If SFUSD is serious, it should publish the current algorithm and the intended one. Where is the transparency we want?
    I am a parent of a child who got zero for 7, I am awaiting the second round, but suspect I will be moving to a better school district.