Boston School Choice Advisory Committee Selects No Zone Home-Based/A Plan

The Mayor’s External Advisory Committee on Student Assignment has recommended the “no zone” Home-Based/A school choice plan that creates a list of schools for each student based on his or her family’s home address. In this model, each student has at least six choices based on school quality. Read more on how Home-Based/A works.

Eliot School parent, Israel Ruiz, was one of the EAC members. A key goal of the plan is to provide students access to quality schools closer to home. The news release is shown below.

Members of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s External Advisory Committee (EAC) on School Choice tonight voted overwhelmingly to recommend a new system for assigning students to schools in grades K-8 in Boston. The plan, if approved by the Boston School Committee, will ensure students have access to quality schools close to their homes.

The EAC is a 24-member panel, appointed last January by Mayor Menino, comprised of current, former, and future BPS parents as well as educators, and community leaders. The committee has worked for more than a year on a data-driven process with deep community input on how to change the student assignment system. Tonight, the group voted to recommend a plan known as “Home-based/A” that gives families a choice of a minimum of six schools near their home, based on their home address. The recommended plan ensures:

• More access to quality schools throughout the district
• More predictability for families on which schools their child will attend
• Stronger communities created by more children attending school with their neighbors, while still providing families with citywide options.
• Better placement of specialized programs: English Language Learners and students with disabilities will have appropriate programs in schools near their homes
• A pathway for elementary school students to enroll in middle schools closer to home

“Our schools have made great progress in recent years and are now showing results that some once said were impossible to achieve,” Mayor Menino said. “Now is the time for us to take the next step and give our families a more simplified, predictable way of choosing a neighborhood school for their children. The EAC members truly represent the diverse views of our city and this recommendation shows a thoughtful process that takes into account varying perspectives.”

The current system used to assign students to schools is more than two decades old and does not provide equitable access to quality seats across the city. Families have complained that the system is complicated, unpredictable, and doesn’t allow for families to build communities with other families in their neighborhoods. The new recommendation will now be delivered to Superintendent Carol R. Johnson who, in turn, will submit it for the consideration of the Boston School Committee.

“The goal of this committee has, from the very beginning, been to have a conversation with our neighbors about how to best create a system that works for all the families in Boston,” said EAC co-chairs Helen Dajer and Hardin Coleman. “The recommendation moving forward tonight reflects all that we heard from a broad range of families.”

BPS has previously committed to allowing students to stay in their current school, even once a plan is implemented beginning in the fall of 2014.

“We recognize that our current families have deep roots in the schools their children now attend and we are committed to ensuring that they are able to stay in the schools they have become so invested in,” said Dr. Johnson. “Our work doesn’t stop here. We will continue to work each day to guarantee all of our schools are centers of excellence that any family would gladly choose for their own child.”

Superintendent Johnson added that the recommendation allows the district to move forward with the next phase of creating the district’s quality improvement and long-range facilities planning.

The proposal will be presented to the Boston School Committee on Wednesday, February 27. The committee will then host community hearings to receive feedback from community members. The committee will vote on a final plan in mid March.

More detailed information on the model, as well as an interactive tool to explore how it would work and data from more than 60 community and EAC meetings are available here: