While school choice options have rapidly increased over the past 20 years, there are questions that still linger. Are these systems on the whole continuously improving? Does every student, regardless of income or where they live, have access to a high-quality education? Is the district’s education strategy rooted in the community’s best interest?
Over the course of a year, the Center for Reinventing Public Education looked in depth at 18 cities with a high level of choice to answer these three questions and better understand how public school choice is working for families. The results are found in their newest report – Stepping Up: How Are American Cities Delivering on the Promise of Public School Choice?
Overall, the study found that proficiency on the school level is increasing, but cities and systems still have a ways to go to meet the needs of every student—especially students from low-income families. In all the cities researched, organizations engaged with officials to bring about policy ideas and solutions, but often, parents and community members felt left out of the decision making process.
CRPE offers suggestions for addressing three common challenges facing cities with high levels of choice:
- Improve how families are informed, so they have real choices.
- Be more strategic about the city’s school portfolio, so models meet children’s needs and family preferences for schools in their neighborhoods.
- Involve community members so they can be part of building a sustainable, responsive education strategy.
CRPE hopes to use these findings to inform decision making by cities and education officials. For more in-depth information on the individual cities that made up the report, CRPE has also provided individual Citywide Education Progress Reports.
If you are interested in connecting with CRPE on this report or one of their other studies, reach out.