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Location, Diversity and Quality: The Priorities When It Comes to DC Schools

  • June 27, 2016

by Nena Perry-Brown

Mathematica Policy Research recently released a report that examines what parents in the District prioritize when choosing a school for their children.

Using data from the 2014 DC Public School lottery, Mathematica analyzed the school characteristics that are in most demand based on 20,000 ranked lists submitted by families through the lottery process.

Location, Diversity and Quality: The Priorities When It Comes to DC Schools: Figure 1

The conclusions revealed that the three priorities were the school’s proximity to the family’s home, the academic performance of the school, and the demographics of its students. The race or ethnicity and income level of the family also determined which decisive factors carry the most weight.

All other things being equal, middle school parents are willing to send their children about half a mile further from home to attend a school where 50 percent of students are their own race and ethnicity, and 2.1 miles further to attend a school with 20 rather than 10 percent students are their own race and ethnicity.

The study concluded that middle schools in the city would trend toward being more integrated if every student was guaranteed their first choice of school. Conversely, schools would be more integrated by income if every student was assigned to their neighborhood school.

Middle school parents are willing to send their children a little over a mile further from home to attend a school with a 10-point increase in the rate of “proficient” test scores. The same parents are willing to send their children 6.7 miles further from home to attend a school with a higher accountability rating based on DC’s rankings.

For a reality check, only 8 percent of middle school students in DC live in a neighborhood with a high-performing school, while at least 38 percent of middle school students are able to attend a high-performing school under the current lottery.

The characteristics of both the schools and the students are gleaned from My School DC, while census data and the Metropolitan Police Department’s crime reporting statistics contextualize the schools’ and the students’ neighborhoods. There are over 100 public charter schools and over 100 traditional public schools available through the My School DC lottery. Additionally, 2014 is the first year that the My School DC lottery was in operation.

See other articles related to: dcps

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_pro-choice_argument_for_dcps/11404

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