Last week, we looked at Jefferson County Public Schools’ process for assigning kindergartners to elementary schools.
Elementary school assignments are guided by several factors, including the district’s diversity standards and the will of each set of parents. Parents can begin expressing their will on Monday, when the application process for the kindergartners of the 2014-15 school year begins.
On those applications, parents will be asked to rank their choices. So which cluster school was listed as the No. 1 choice on most applications last year?
Stopher Elementary in East Louisville. It was listed No. 1 on 189 applications for the current crop of kindergartners, who were first to be assigned through the 13-cluster map under the JCPS elementary school student assignment plan.
Here’s the top 5:
1. Stopher Elementary
2. Norton Elementary
3. Farmer Elementary
4. Lowe Elementary
5. McFerran Preparatory Academy
The numbers for all other schools are listed in the table below. A couple of notes: These numbers don’t include district-wide magnet schools, such as the Brown School or Lincoln Performing Arts School.
Also, district officials said the clusters don’t have an equal number of kids living in them.
What drives which schools get the most applications?
Test scores are a logical first answer. The top four schools on the list scored better than 80 percent of elementary schools in Kentucky in the state’s accountability test. But McFerran Preparatory Academy scored better than only 11 percent. Meanwhile, Breckinridge/Franklin Elementary scored better than 64 percent of Kentucky elementary schools but was listed No. 1 on 29 applications.
(The percentiles from the state’s Unbridled Learning scores are listed along with the number of applicants on the table below.)
Here’s a possible explanation for those disparities. In reporting our student assignment stories, we were told by parents and school administrators that parental involvement in the school choice process helps incoming kindergartners find the right school. But we also found that the school district’s 13 clusters used in the assignment process don’t fare equally in the state’s standardized test.
It’s possible that the parents of last year’s incoming kindergartners—the ones who wanted to stay within their cluster, at least—were led largely by “fit,” too. (If you’re having trouble seeing the table, go here.)