The Law of Choice and the Decision Not to Decide

David C. Wilson, Suzanne Leland,Kenneth Godwin,Andrew Baxter,Ashley Levy,Jamie Smart,Nadia Najjar,Jayakrishnan Andaparambil

Public school choice at the primary and secondary levels is one of the key elements of the U.S. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). If a school does not meet assessment goals for two consecutive years, by law the district must offer students the opportunity to transfer to a school that is meeting its goals. Making a choice with such potential impact on a child's future is clearly monumental, yet astonishingly few parents take advantage of the opportunity. Our research has shown that a significant part of the problem arises from issues in information access and information overload, particularly for low socioeconomic status families. We have developed an online application, called SmartChoice, to provide parents with school recommendations for individual students based on parents' preferences and students' needs, interests, abilities, and talents. The application employs content-based recommender systems techniques to generate a personalized list of schools that have a demonstrated track record with children who share a child's interests, skills, and needs. The first version of the application is deployed and live for focus group participants who have been using it for the January and March/April 2008 Charlotte-Mecklenburg school choice periods.

Subjects: 1. Applications; 8. Enabling Technologies

Submitted: Mar 26, 2008

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