Quality, Close to Home

Boston is working to improve school choice and student assignment.

Families have better choices than ever in the Boston Public Schools. Mayor Menino and Superintendent Johnson are calling for changes to improve our student assignment system as we improve school quality all across Boston.

Over the last 12 months more than 4,000 people have participated in more than 50 community meetings and on-line surveys, sharing their views on school quality and the proposed models. Now the External Advisory Committee on School Choice has taken the “best of the best” ideas submitted by BPS and from the community, including elected officials. The EAC is looking at three options for school choice:

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Join the EAC for a community meeting about the proposals: Monday, February 4, 6-8pm at Orchard Gardens K-8 School, 906 Albany St.

BPS hosted 18 community meetings and heard from 1,850 people since the first models were released in September. Since then, the External Advisory Committee on School Choice has taken the “best of the best” from the many great ideas submitted by BPS and the community.

What these options improve:

  • More equitable access to quality: The new options better distribute access to quality schools for students across the city.
  • More predictability: The new options help families explore their school choices and have more certainty about which schools their child could attend. More families have access to K-8 schools and elementary schools are linked to middle school pathways.
  • Greater convenience: The new options help children attend schools closer to home, while still providing citywide options.
  • Continued diversity: The new options aim to protect the socioeconomic diversity we value here in Boston.
  • Better placement of specialized programs: English Language Learners and students with disabilities will have appropriate programs in schools nearby through our new overlay system.

What remains the same:

  • Sibling preference remains a priority, and younger siblings of current students will be able to select the school their older sibling already attends.
  • Walk zone schools are always in a family’s choice set and walk zone priority remains in the assignment algorithm.
  • Current students don’t have to change schools: The assignment changes would take effect for incoming students beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

BPS is also improving school quality. We have already taken many steps together to improve the quality of schools and offer better options for families and are taking additional steps to ensure every school is one every family would be happy to choose. Explore them here.

Elements of all proposals:

  • Grandfathering of all students and sibling grandfathering. Under any plan, current BPS students may choose to stay in their assigned school and may be joined by their younger brothers or sisters
  • Sibling priority and walk zone access are maintained in all proposals (walk zone is a one-mile radius from home, even if it is across a zone boundary)
  • More K-8 pathways: Every student would have access to K-8 pathway school(s) in their menu of options
  • More predictability and closer to home: Families can know more about the schools they can select with assurance they have more equitable access to quality; this could attract new families to BPS
  • More school options will be possible – including in-district charters, Innovation schools, dual language and inclusion programs
  • Create between six and eight new in-district charter and Innovation Schools to address quality concerns in Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park
  • Convert an Allston-Brighton school to a regional option (excess seats, capacity shortages)
  • Committed to identifying space for a downtown school, so that downtown families have a great school option close to home.
  • Earlier hotline activation to move students off waiting lists and into schools faster
  • Offer option for incoming K2 families to be assigned to the closest available school in Round One if they don’t receive one of their choices