Inserting Equity into the Process of School Choice in Urban Communities: A Case Study in Central Los Angeles

This report will first assess whether the Belmont Zone of Choice (BZOC) achieved equity in school choice, and second make recommendations on which policy options will best improve equity. This report aims to analyze the extent to which the BZOC is equitable in its application and assignment processes using original data from
interviews, site observations, public document analysis, and student-level quantitative choice, demographic, and performance data. Since there is little consensus in the policy and education disciplines about equity in school choice, this paper will define equity and create original equity criteria for urban school choice plans. Next, this paper will describe the application and assignment processes of the Spring 2009 BZOC school choice cycle and evaluate their outcomes in light of the original equity criteria. This in depth analysis gives way to tailored policy recommendations to increase equity within the BZOC through feasible reforms for both the application and assignment processes. 

Through an original equity analysis, this report found that the BZOC could further achieve equity through three major reforms. First, the BZOC should implement standardized implementation and facilitation protocols within the application process to ensure all students and their families have access to quality information about their choices. Second, the BZOC should process all student applications in one round to ensure equality of fair assignment. Finally, the BZOC should integrate community input to create a policy on distributional equity and create an adhoc Assignment Review Committee to monitor the distribution of English language learners, special education, low-income, and low-achieving students across schools.

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