In a comment on a previous post, Roy Smith wrote:
Since school district policy prohibits (with good reason) involuntary assignment to alternative schools, I would submit that only one criteria is particularly useful or should really matter in assessing whether an alternative school remains open: does it continue to attract enrollment?
I like the idea, and suggest that first choice numbers, as a measure of what parents think of a school, can be added to enrollment to help complete the picture. Many factors, like being mentioned for possible closure, can affect enrollment and first choice numbers and make this data problematic in some ways. But I think the results are interesting.
From the numbers the CAC looked at for first choice requests for elementary and alternative schools, I calculated the following data showing the percentage change in kindergarten first choice requests in 2006 as compared to 2001. (I opted not to include the 6th grade first choice requests here because I'm not sure whether the 5th graders who choose to stay in the same school for 6th grade are counted in this data or not.)
- Orca, Kindergarten: +81%
- Salmon Bay, Kindergarten: +26%
- Pathfinder, Kindergarten: +3%
- TOPS, Kindergarten: +1%
- Summit, Kindergarten: +0%
- AE#2, Kindergarten: -28%
- AS#1, Kindergarten: -46%
- AAA, Kindergarten: -79%
Then I looked at the percentage change in overall enrollment during almost that same period, 2001 to 2005. (If anyone gets the new 2006 enrollment numbers, I'd love to see them.)
- Pathfinder +12%
- AS#1 +10%
- AE#2 +9%
- Summit +8%
- Orca +4%
- Salmon Bay +1%
- TOPS -6%
- AAA -14%
And finally, I looked at the how full the schools were in 2005, using enrollment and planning capacity numbers. I am skeptical about these numbers because I don't agree with how the district counts excess capacity in general. For example, how can Pathfinder, a school with the entire middle school in portables, be counted as having excess capacity? But, although faulty, I believe these capacity numbers can help complete the picture of how popular alternative schools are around the district.
TOPS - 101%
AS#1 - 97%
AE#2 - 86%
Orca - 85%
Salmon Bay - 84%
Summit - 81%
Pathfinder - 78%
AAA - 68%
What does all this mean? I'm not sure. I'd love to have people from each of the schools tell some of the stories behind the numbers.
For example, Orca's 1st choice numbers went way up starting, I believe, when Ben Ostrom came on as principal. But overall enrollment didn't change much. Why? Likewise, at Salmon Bay you see a large increase in Kindergarten first choice requests, but not a corresponding large increase in overall enrollment. My guess is that the planning capacities are incorrect, making it look like Orca and Salmon Bay have excess capacity when they don't. Anyone from Orca or Salmon Bay want to confirm or correct this idea?
Someone from AS#1 and from AE#2, can you tell us why with a large decrease in first choice requests, the total enrollment of your schools is increasing?
And I'd welcome the analysis of anyone on what, if anything, all this data means.