The Answer is 6.7 Miles. What is the Question?

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The question is: how far, on average, would a family send their child to attend a school that is in the highest category of the state accountability system compared to a school in the lowest category of the state accountability system?

This is from a recent report on the DC public school system. The analysis, while useful, isn’t perfect in that it only includes families who utilized the enrollment system, but it does add to the emerging literature on the revealed preferences of families that participate in transparent enrollment systems.

 

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Here’s another answer: it increases racial integration.

The question is: does DC’s unified enrollment system increase or decrease racial segregation?

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Shockingly enough, assigning families to neighborhood schools that are zoned by property values is not a great way to decrease segregation.

 

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Answer: Unclear.

Question: Do parents care about a school’s academic growth (as opposed to absolute test scores)?

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Interesting but not shocking. Parents probably care a lot about peers and status.

Also interesting, this seems more true of low-income families:

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This raises an interesting question for policy makers: given that growth more accurately measures a school’s impact, should they design grading systems that prioritize growth (as DC’s charter framework does) even though low-income parents might care more about absolute scores?

Or perhaps not – maybe low-income families aren’t considering the growth based performance framework because the government is hiding this information:

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One last answer: Families who aren’t assigned to a school in the lowest performance category, as well as the politicians and superintendents who seek their favor.

The question: who loves neighborhood schools?

It remains shocking to me that public leaders in cities such as Oakland are vehemently opposed to unified enrollment on the grounds that such systems will undermine public education.

The only thing a unified enrollment system undermines is the privilege of those who benefit from institutional racism and widespread income inequality.

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Answer is 6.7 Miles. What is the Question?

  1. Ahniwake Rose

    For DC there are a lot more questions then what you have provided. Such as, how many families with in that neighborhood are choosing private school, or choosing to move once their children hit schools because they’re unhappy with the DC public school system.

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  2. Ciro Curbelo

    Are “absolute test scores” are a proxy for peer group? Many parents wisely try to influence their children’s life outcomes by nudging them towards (and away from) specific peer groups. (BTW, there is good empirical data on the effectiveness of this…https://www.amazon.com/Nurture-Assumption-Children-Revised-Updated/dp/1439101655). Given that, I am not surprised many parents ignore growth. In their minds, “test scores” are a proxy for what they are really looking for – critical mass of kids who can nudge their children toward good things. If this is right, then the prime users of growth measures are really state regulators who need to decide whether to close a school. And the prime users of absolute test scores are parents.

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