Thursday, May 30, 2013

New CRPE Study Examines Effects of Unified Enrollment Systems

The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) has received a $500,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation for a two-year study on the effect of unified enrollment systems on families and schools.

Led by Research Director Dr. Betheny Gross, CRPE will analyze the design and implementation of unified enrollment systems in Denver Public Schools and the Recovery School District in New Orleans—two districts that have led the way in designing enrollment systems that include all district and charter schools. CRPE will also study the planning process underway to create a similar enrollment system in Philadelphia.

Unified enrollment systems offer local families the opportunity to access all of a city’s district and charter schools—which currently represent a significant portion of public schools in Denver, New Orleans, and Philadelphia—through a single, citywide school choice application. These new systems attempt to remedy the complex enrollment processes that parents in these districts have faced for years.

CRPE will answer how the implementation of unified enrollment systems affect:

  • Families’ understanding, satisfaction, and engagement with public school choice in their cities;
  • Families’ access to high-performing schools; and
  • Student enrollment predictability and stability for school planning.

The study will help district and charter leaders understand the implications of different enrollment system design decisions (e.g., allowing schools to have preferred student populations, methods to accommodate late enrollees) and supporting policies (e.g., parent information systems, transportation plans) on families’ experiences with school choice and system outcomes. Such an understanding will help leaders who are currently considering new enrollment systems to build comprehensive strategies that maximize on the promise of choice and competition in education.