Asumag 2864 Brookings

Go Where You Want To Go: Districts that offer the most school choice

March 1, 2016
The Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution ranks school systems based on how much choice they give to parents about where to enroll their children.
Parents can choose which public schools their children attend in 55 percent of the nation’s largest school districts, more than double the percent of such districts that offered school choice 15 years ago, according to the Education Choice and Competition Index 2015, assembled by the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution.

But the extent of that choice varies greatly from district to district. The 2015 Index, released in February 2016, ranks 112 districts (the nation's 100 largest plus 12 other systems "of special interest.").

The system that offers the most student choice, the Index determined, is the Recovery School District in Louisiana. The Recovery district is not one of the nation's 100 largest, but is included, the Index says, "because it became a hotbed of school choice after Hurricane Katrina, in part because the infrastructure of the regular [Orleans Parish] school system was destroyed by the storm. This allowed the state to operate with a clean slate in rebuilding the city’s schools."

The rankings are based on school systems' track record in 13 categories:

  • Alternatives to traditional public schools
  • Accessibility of virtual courses
  • Popularity of a school reflected in its funding
  • Closures of schools with declining enrollments due to parental choice
  • Degree of choice and fairness in student assignment
  • Common application for all district schools
  • Availability and comparability of tax credit scholarship/voucher data
  • Reporting of student achievement gains in schools
  • Accessible online choice information
  • Relevant online student performance data
  • Clear, understandable online performance data
  • Transportation to alternative/choice public schools
  • District school quality rating

Here are the 10 districts rated as providing the most school choice. Scores were determined on a 100-point scale.

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