Those of you who have been following school choice developments here know that, for the past year, Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Clayton Featherstone, Muriel Niederle, Parag Pathak and I have been helping the San Francisco Unified School District design a new school choice system, which was adopted by the SF School Board last March.
The original plan was that we would continue to offer our services free of charge to implement the software, and then help monitor the effects of the new choice system.
Last week we heard from SFUSD staff that, because of concerns about sharing confidential data for monitoring the effects of the new system, they have decided to do further development in-house, and so will develop software to implement the new design on their own.
The SFUSD staff have been left with a sufficiently detailed description of the "assignment with transfers" design the Board approved to move ahead with it if they wish. But it will take a good deal of care in implementing the new algorithm in software if its desirable properties--strategic simplicity and non wastefulness--are to be realized. (Both of these features were lacking in the old SFUSD assignment system, the one to be replaced.)
Below are links to some of the key developments before last week.
Here is a post with a link to the video of Muriel Niederle presenting the new design that the Board ultimately voted to adopt: SF School Board Meeting, Feb 17: new choice system.
And here is a link to the slides she presented, giving a description (with examples) of the new choice algorithm: Assignment in the SFUSD, and discussions of the features that make it strategically simple, non wasteful, and flexible.
In March 2010 the San Francisco Board of Education unanimously approved the new system. In their March 2010 press release, the SFUSD reported (emphasis added):
"The choice algorithm was designed with the help of a volunteer team of market design experts who have previously been involved in designing choice algorithms for school choice in Boston and New York City. Volunteers from four prominent universities contributed to the effort, including Clayton Featherstone and Muriel Niederle of Stanford University, Atila Abdulkadiroglu of Duke University, Parag Pathak of MIT, and Alvin Roth of Harvard.
“We are pleased that the district has decided to adopt a choice architecture that makes it safe for parents to concentrate their effort on determining which schools they prefer, with confidence that they won’t hurt their chances by listing their preferences truthfully,” said Niederle and Featherstone, the Stanford research team."
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