BPS School Assignment Reform: Nearing the End?

After nearly a year, the city appears to be making progress toward a final decision.

The BPS school assignment reform process has taken almost a year, but we may be headed to a conclusion. The original goal was to have Mayor Menino present conclusions as part of Tuesday's State of the City address. But the powers that be (wisely) decided to delay the process to allow for additional analysis.

We've seen a bunch of proposals over the past six months, but the discussion seems to be coalescing around three proposals—a 10 zone plan and two related non-zone plans.

The non-zone plans are the most intriguing. Rather than the constraints of a geographic zone, they would provide parents with a “choice set” of many of their closest schools with a guarantee of the inclusion of specific numbers of schools at varying levels of academic quality. This is BPS' attempt to deal with the “access to quality” issue while also limiting the level of geographic dispersion for many students. (To be sure, the existence of city-wide options and charter schools will continue to provide a broader array of choices, and require longer bus travel.)

The External Advisory Committee will meet on Thursday to continue their deliberations, but this narrower set of proposals appears to signal where they are headed.