Controlled Choice

Controlled Choice is system designed to create diverse schools with equal educational resources. Under a Controlled Choice system, students are not zoned for any given school. Instead, families rank the schools that they are interested in, and students are assigned according to those preferences and to criteria to that the local community determines (for example, sibling preference and geographic distance are often included as criteria).

Controlled Choice has four key elements. The cornerstone of the process is allowing parents to choose which school they would like their child (children) to attend.  This is done through

  1. A transparent enrollment process that reflects community values and is determined by the community.
  2. Creating a Family Resource Center that educates families about the process as well as the choices in a fair and unbiased way and
  3. Identifying failing schools and bringing in support systems and mentoring to help them become competitive with other schools in their district.
  4. Designing an algorithm for student assignment makes sure that no socioeconomic group is concentrated in any one school.

Transportation can — and should — be part of the program.

Controlled Choice plans are widely considered to be the single most effective way of integrating public schools and boosting educational outcomes for all.

For examples of how different school systems around United States have implemented Controlled Choice in a variety of ways, see Stories of School Integration, a 2016 report by the Century Foundation.