Boston Adopts Closer-to-Home School Assignment Plan

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Boston School Committee, in a momentous vote Wednesday, scrapped a school assignment plan developed under court-ordered desegregation almost a quarter-century ago and embraced a new system that seeks to allow more students to attend schools closer to home.

Starting in fall 2014, the city will do away with three sprawling assignment zones that the School Department has operated since 1989, each of which offers about two dozen school choices.

Under the new policy, a computer algorithm will generate a list of at least six schools from which parents will be able to choose based on a variety of factors, such as distance from school, school capacity, and MCAS performance. At least four of the school choices will be of medium or high quality.

The committee also eliminated the so-called walk-zone preference for students — within about a mile of a school. Such a policy can benefit students who live near a high-performing school to the detriment of others who do not have such a school nearby.

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