Lotteried Down: The Consequences of Losing in Rankings-Based School Assignment
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
In New Orleans, public schools have no geographic attendance zones and the large majority participate in a centralized student assignment lottery (OneApp). The OneApp system includes two rounds of school lotteries in which students rank schools and are assigned to the top-ranked school in which they win a lottery. Following the second round, students re-sort in process by which parents can request transfers if additional slots are available when lottery winners do not enroll. State administrators who oversee the OneApp report that over 90% of students are assignment to one of their top three choices. But in a system with a large number of failing schools, it is in unclear what is lost between a parents’ first and third choices, or what happens to the remaining 10% of students.
Using parental rankings of schools from the OneApp for the 2013-14 school year, we calculate the difference between a parent’s first choice school and subsequent choices to measure the potential cost of being a lottery loser. Next, we calculate the difference between the first choice and the actual assignment. Finally, we estimate the effects of losing a first choice school on parent behavior in the round two lottery and final assignment process. Preliminary results indicate that a large proportion of parents rank a small number of highly oversubscribed school in top choices. Subsequently, a large number of students face assignments with considerably lower report card grades. This leads to a large number of parents attempting to gain a reassignment through the second lottery and large number of bureaucratic transfers after the lottery is complete.