On Friday, letters for 2011-12 assignment will be mailed (the lucky ones will receive those letters on Saturday; some will have to wait for Monday or even Tuesday if the mail is very slow). And for those who don’t already know, I am waiting for one of those letters to tell us my younger daughter’s middle school assignment.
Like most people who have been watching and thinking about this issue for years, Friday’s letters will mark a major shift in the reliability of the data we have about choice so far: for one thing, it should tell us, far more reliably, what people really want, since the system is supposed to work best when people are honest about their true preferences. If applicants truly want the schools closest to them, we should be able to see that from the data. If applicants truly want something else, we should be able to see what that “something else” is.
Preliminary data will be released at a press conference on Friday; in the ensuing months we should receive more analysis about how well the process worked and how demand and assignment patterns changed between the old and new systems.