BARI and Boston Public Schools (BPS) have adopted a data-driven approach to identifying inequities in academic opportunities—whether driven by race, socioeconomic status, English language learner status, or otherwise—and to developing policies that can close the achievement gap. This has taken the form of two projects: the construction and implementation of an Opportunity Index that quantifies both individual- and neighborhood-level impacts on achievement; and an evaluation of equity in the school choice and assignment process.
Equity in School Choice and Assignment. BARI recently completed an evaluation of equity under BPS’ current school choice and assignment system known as the Home-Based Assignment Plan (HBAP). In 2013 BPS adopted Home-Based as a new and innovative approach for providing more students access to quality schools close to home. The report revealed that geographic and racial inequities in terms of access to quality schools persisted under HBAP, and found that there ways that the algorithms underlying HBAP could be improved in these regards. The overarching lesson of the evaluation, however, was that there are limits to what any school choice and assignment plan can do when there are few high-quality schools in a city and that those schools are not evenly distributed across neighborhoods. Following the report BARI is continuing to work with BPS to navigate ways to make access and assignment to schools more equitable across populations.