The Research Alliance for New York City Schools

Providing rigorous evidence to inform education policy and practice in New York City

High School Choice in New York City

Bookmark and Share

High School Choice in NYC: A Report on the School Choices and Placements of Low-Achieving Students (2013)

Lori Nathanson, Sean Corcoran (IESP), and Christine Baker-Smith

School choice policies, a fixture of efforts to improve public education in many cities, aim to enable families to choose a school that they believe will best meet their child’s needs. In New York City, choice and the development of a diverse portfolio of options have played central roles in the Department of Education’s high school reform efforts.

This report examines the choices and placements of New York City’s lowest-achieving students: those scoring among the bottom 20 percent on standardized state tests in middle school. Focusing on data from 2007 to 2011, the report looks at who these low-achieving students are, including how their demographics compare to other students in NYC, the educational challenges they face, and where they live. The bulk of the report reviews low-achieving students’ most preferred schools and the ones to which they were ultimately assigned, assessing how these schools compare to those of their higher-achieving peers.

The findings show that low-achieving students attended schools that were lower performing, on average, than those of all other students. This was driven by differences in students’ initial choices: low-achieving students’ first-choice schools were less selective, lower-performing, and more disadvantaged. Overall, lower-achieving and higher-achieving students were matched to their top choices at the same rate. Importantly, both low- and higher-achieving students appear to prefer schools that are close to home, suggesting that differences in students’ choices likely reflect, at least in part, the fact that lower-achieving students are highly concentrated in poor neighborhoods, where options may be more limited.

 

 

 

The Research Alliance for New York City Schools, 285 Mercer Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY, 10003
Phone: 212 992 7697 | Fax: 212 995 4910 | research.alliance@nyu.edu |