I thought I had published this note a while ago, but am not finding evidence I did. I did something similar, but it only covers the summary worksheet. The following is using an example from the 2010 Kindergarten Lottery, and helps to show the inner workings of the Point System for the Lottery.
So for starters, imagine you have a spreadsheet with 688 rows by 64 columns. Each of the columns have strange headings like proxst, or ch1prises, or asgsch. I have figured out what most of those things are – probably most anyone could decypher this mess if looked at long enough. Now that I think about this, I should make this case study a multi-part series… but I wanted to get some information out quick for certain folks, so here is what I have now.
When you submit your application and the information eventually makes its way to Dr. Alves in Massachusetts, he fires up his program. The first thing it does is assign a random number to each applicant. This random number is identified as ccrnd, or “Controlled Choice Random”. Please keep in mind I am totally guessing at the human-readable text – it is what makes sense to me. If everything else is exactly the same (for instance, if you just happened to submit an application twice), this number would be the ultimate tie-breaker.
When you filled out your application, each of your inputs were codified. For example, you checked a box that marked which level of income you made. This automatically becomes a number, for instance, “Income Level Code 5”. The column for this data is incomecode. You get more points for lower code values; or in other words, the less you make, the more you are favored. In most cases, the point system uses a logarithmic scale, meaning that the high end is really high end. Yes, yes yes, I realize you could totally game the system and LIE. That is not the point of this post – a pox on you if you abuse your knowledge. So keeping that in mind, here are some more:
mealcode: in 2010, you got the same points no matter if you received free/reduced lunches or not
childno: more points for more children in the household
adultcode: generally more points for fewer adults – the data is really weird for this one
pedpts: a summation of p1educode (first parent’s education) and p2educode (second parent’s education). More points for less educational achievement
precode: a non-intuitive assignment of points. Lots of points if you went to Head Start, least points if you went to private school. Not going to preschool is just a notch above private school. Couple other values in there as well.
Your “SES” score (ch2sesprt – choice 2 SES part) is the sum of the above (incomepts, mealpts, childpts, adultpts, pedpts, prepts). In general, they are all weighted the same except childpts, which has about 3/5 the weight of the others. The max possible score is 2,300,000 for SES.
The next group of points is for “Proximity” and siblings. The points are all in millions and trump SES:
Proximity B (ch1prxb): 3mil
Proximity A (ch1prxa): 4mil
Sibling (ch1sib): 5mil
Proximity (doesn’t matter which one) + Sibling: 6mil
Proximity and Siblings only counts for Choice 1 – no other choices.
Your total score for Choice 1 would be:
Total SES (ch2sesprt) + Prox/sib points (ch1pripts) + the random number (ccrnd) = ch1aprnd
Your total score for Choice 2 (and all others) would be:
Total SES (ch2sesprt) + the random number (ccrnd) = ch2aprnd
You get your first choice if your total points is in the Top N scores, where N is the number of available seats. There is some special calculation whereby some Proximity B seats are reserved, thus a Proximity A person may be bumped by a Proximity B person if Proximity A seats fill up. Weird science, eh?
For the Second choice, this becomes the “Second round” if you will. After all the First choices are processed, a new number of available seats is calculated and becomes the new N. If your score is in the Top N for 2nd Choice, you are golden. So on and so forth.
Finally, there is one more strange quirk to this whole thing. Some folks are labelled as “Low SES”, while others are “Non Low SES”. There is absolutely no documentation about what distinguishes one from the other. Unit 4 will tell you it totally depends on Free and Reduced Lunch. But Dr. Alves twists this; the lowest Non Low SES total points was 205,000, but the highest Low SES was 2,000,000. A magnitude of difference. Go figure.