Home > Uncategorized > “HS Choice” Has NOT Narrowed the Graduation Gap… But HAS Consumed Lots of Parent Time and Energy

“HS Choice” Has NOT Narrowed the Graduation Gap… But HAS Consumed Lots of Parent Time and Energy

May 12, 2016

In “The Problem that School Choice Has Not Solved” Washington Post writer Emma Brown reports on the findings of a recent study conducted by Measure of America that found despite the implementation of district-wide high school choice over a decade ago, graduation rates are still linked to Zip Codes. The article offers this summary of the findings:

Researchers at Measure of America — whose mission is to capture and publicize metrics of the nation’s well-being — requested student-level data to map graduation rates against New York City’s 59 community districts. They found an enormous range, from a 60.9 percent graduation rate in Bronx District 5 to a 95.1 graduation rate in Manhattan Districts 1 and 2, which includes Battery Park City, Greenwich Village and Soho.

That 34-point neighborhood gap was substantially larger than the racial achievement gaps.

So even when choice was offered to students across the city, the neighborhood where the child lived had an impact on their graduation rates… which should be no surprise to anyone who has studied the correlation between parent income and education and student achievement:

“On this measure, the well-known link between a student’s neighborhood conditions and educational outcomes is as strong as ever,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps of Measure of America, which conducted the analysis and is a project of the nonprofit Social Science Research Council.

And Burd-Sharps drew another conclusion from her work examining school choice:

Burd-Sharps said that even if the gap is smaller than it used to be, it is still way too large. “And the cost to families is high,” she said.

The cost comes in the form of time and resources to visit open houses and navigate each school’s application requirements, not to mention the time and resources it takes for students to travel to schools far from their homes. Burd-Sharps said that the city needs to ask whether families have access to “real choice … or just choice theater.”

As the grandparent observing the “..visiting open houses and navigating each school’s application requirements” at the MIDDLE SCHOOL level, and knowing that this whole process needs to be repeated in three years, I can attest to the fact that the emotional price is at least as high as applying for college and if the results are not mitigating the effects of neighborhood demographics an objective bystander would have to ask if that emotional cost is worth it.

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