Bps Student Assignment

Two years in, the impact of Boston Public School’s relatively-new school assignment system has yet to be fully assessed, and the Boston Compact is pushing for significant modifications. Against this backdrop, researchers gathered recently to probe a question hot on many parents’ minds, “Is the home-based system working?”

“I don’t see how we move to a different assignment process without understanding the equity implications of the current system,” said Kim Janey, senior project director at Massachusetts Advocates for Children.

Some parents say an equity analysis is long overdue on BPS’s home-based school assignment system, and that if it does not arrive soon, decisions may be made without it. The Boston Compact stated in a letter released last week that they are refining their unified enrollment proposal and Mayor Martin Walsh is expected to submit a proposal to the “decision-making bodies” in the city and state in “the months ahead.”

As part of the proposal, charter schools would switch their enrollment model from accepting students from anywhere in the state off a lottery to one that prioritizes local students, a move the state Legislature would have to approve.

Professors, researchers and BPS officials gathered at the Boston University Initiative on Cities headquarters for a panel discussion on the successes and challenges of the current system and what equitable access to quality schools truly means. The event was cosponsored by the BUIC, the BU School of Education and the Boston Area Research Initiative.

Home-based system arrives

Rolled out for the 2014-2015 school year, the home-based assignment model aimed to bring more equitable access to quality schools, while also prioritizing schools closest to where families live.

Each family’s list of potential schools from which to select must include a certain number of schools with high MCAS scores within a one-mile radius of where the family lives. If there are not enough high-performing schools nearby, more distant options are added. Meanwhile, parents may select citywide schools or send children to schools their siblings attend.

Promising start

Several panelists tentatively praise to the home-based system, saying that on the surface there seem to be improvements over the zone-based system — implemented in 1989 and modified over the years — but cautioned that it is early to say with certainty.

In part this is due to the complexity of the system and the problem it seeks to solve. Among the many issues panelists said need further investigation are the wide variance in what parents regard as “quality education.”

“Through very initial estimates at very surface levels, we’re seeing signs that [the home-based system] is working, that we’re moving in the direction that we intended to move,” said James Racanelli, operations management director for BPS.

Racanelli said families now have more equal lists of school choices, and that children are traveling less distance to attend schools.

Another achievement, he added: BPS analysis suggests that in the home-based system, families seem to have more equal access to the schools they choose, regardless of race, economic and income levels, and geographic location.


For this school year (September 2017 - June 2018)

Before You Visit a Welcome Center

Visit a Welcome Center

Visit your nearest Welcome Center. Bring parent photo identification and the required documents below:

Please note:Families who register in February through June for both current and next year seats are not guaranteed to keep the current school year school placement for next school year.  

For next school year (September 2018 - June 2019)

Registration Dates

Visit a Welcome Center before March 23 for students in ANY grade! You will be notified by May 31 of your child's assignment.

Note: If you visited a Welcome Center between January 3 and February 9 and your child will be entering grades K0, K1, 6, 7, or 9, you will receive a notification letter by March 30.

Before You Visit a Welcome Center

Demand Report: BPS 2017-2018 School Demand Report

The information provided on this sheet will give you a better sense of which schools and programs were ranked the most frequently during the registration period for the 2017-2018 school year. You can use this information to find out the approximate chances your student has to get into the schools and programs of your choice.

Visit a Welcome Center

Visit your nearest Welcome Center. Bring parent photo identification and the required documents below:

  • Child's original birth certificate (or, if necessary, passport or I-94)
  • Child's up-to-date immunization record
  • Two proofs of Boston residency 
  • If a medical accommodation is required, or your child has a disability, documentation must be provided. 




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