2014 Choice: some stats

Tom Lockman, the Unit 4 School Attorney and FOIA Officer, responded quite quickly to my request for aggregated stats about Kindergarten assignment for next year, as well as this year (2013 Registration). I still have to give Unit 4 a hard time for delivering data-unfriendly formats (ie, images in PDF pages – what?!?), but at least I have the data:



Click to go to interactive graphs for the past 5 years


As you can tell, Bottenfield, Barkstall, Carrie Busey and Washington were all oversubscribed for “first choices”, meaning that of all the people who selected one of these four schools for their first choice, a small percentage were bumped to their second choice. Discounting SES ratios*, at all 8 other selections everyone made their first choice. (* a family can be denied their first choice even if there are seats available if they would upset the district-wide SES goals of 35% +/- 15%).


There was a very interesting trend this year, now that folks can choose 12 schools. The first thing I noticed is that slightly fewer parents registered than the year before, even though registration was open for two months longer. Also, some schools had an amazing number of choices in 11th and 12th place. Makes me curious.

12 Responses to “2014 Choice: some stats”

  1. SC Says:

    Interesting data! It would be interesting to see how many spots are used by siblings. Do you also have the data showing how many total students each year represents – and compared to the number of spots available altogether? Are parents told how many spots are available per school before they register/make selections. I am intrigued by how the capacity changes from year to year – and I wonder if that has any impact on selections/rankings. I think I recall that last year a few schools added a fourth K class at the last minute?

    I also wonder how many choices each parent/student made. Did many rank all twelve schools?

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      I have no other data for 2013-2014 or 2014-2015; my FOIA for granular detail from last year is still wrapped up with the Attorney General’s office, and at the current rate, it is going to be another 8 months or so before that is resolved. However, having said that, perhaps I can craft another request for data that is “safe” and yet answers your questions more fully if you wish. Or you could request data yourself. 🙂 I am happy to import and crunch data that other people receive.

      1. Number of total students vs number of spots: Kinda sorta. I definitely have that information for 2010 through 2013. I can derive it for last year and this year, but I cannot gaurantee its accuracy.

      2. Are parents told how many spots are available per school before they register/make selections? This year, the parents were presented with a printed “dashboard” when they visited the FIC, which gave them an idea of which schools had been chosen so far. The FIC encourages parents to ask those kinds of questions of the FIC counselor, or during one of the new “Choice Chats” (a scheduled meeting at the FIC with a Choice Specialist).

      3. Capacity changing from year to year: Oh yes, that was a crafty little one. Several schools now have a “bubble” of one or two grade levels that will percolate through their system. Talk about fun. From Dr. Susan Zola: “All of the 12 elementary schools are three strands for next year except Kenwood and South Side which will have two K classes and Stratton which will have four classes. This past year all the schools were three strand except South Side which was two and Garden Hills, Stratton, Barkstall, Bottenfield and Carrie Busey which had four each.”

      4. It is hard to say how many choices each parent/child made; again, I can derive it if you allow for some error. Just download the excel spreadsheet I made and do some math on it. 🙂 I count approximately 75 families that marked down all 12 choices, which out of 701, is just a little over 10%.

    • AlisonC Says:

      It would be interesting to have sibling data. The last few years, the district did announce well ahead of registration that if need be, certain schools would get “bubble” classes–so that parents had that information, even if they don’t have a sibling estimate, which would be extremely helpful. Is Stratton’s high capacity a bubble class, or is the school meant to have 4 strands?

      Parents were told this year to rank a minimum of five schools, although we, with an older sibling of our kindergartner, weren’t given a hard time about the fact that we made only 1 choice.

      Finally–what’s up with Dr. Howard? More parents choose International Prep than the established school with the gifted program? (I also thought International Prep was only getting 2 K classes, not 3.) Perhaps it should be moved higher on the priority list for building replacement.

      • charlesdschultz Says:

        Alison, in the past, I have never been given sibling data directly; instead, when I requested the lottery data, one of the columns in the spreadsheet had a column which described the fact that the incoming Kindergarten studen was bumped higher on the priority list due to a sibling. Is that what you would like to have for this year?

        I believe Stratton is meant to be a full 4-strand.

        Dr. Howard…. that is a very good question. I think I will dig into that school a little more just because I know so little about it. Apparently it has a strong following, so it should be easy to find parents who love it and want to talk about it. 🙂

      • AlisonC Says:

        If I were doing this for the first time, I would want to know how much of the capacity for each school is typically eaten up by siblings. It would be much more useful to know how many students getting their first-choice school are getting it without the benefit of older-sibling priority, especially for a family which might have proximity to more than one of the overchosen schools.

        I’d also like to know why Bottenfield is the big winner in the popularity contest. Is it the best school in the district, does it have the best word-of-mouth, is its central location more appealing–or does Bottenfield do some good things in its tours and/or at the forums which other schools could easily do, e.g. having PTA parents lead tours or giving the principals/kindergarten teachers a stronger list of talking points for the forums?

      • charlesdschultz Says:

        Alison, you make a great point. So for instance, Stratton which typically has 4 strands (23 x 4 = 92 seats), might only have, say, 78 seats (14 siblings) available if every qualified sibling’s parents actually chose that school first. Which makes me wonder, does anyone ever choose a sibling school as a less-than-first choice? Hm…. I can look at years prior to 2013 to determine that.

      • AlisonC Says:

        I can vouch for the fact that some of the families whose children move to gifted classrooms in 2nd grade do choose to request the original non-gifted school for younger siblings. That is, there are families of students with older siblings who don’t put the sibling’s school as #1. I think there are also families who didn’t get their first-choice school for the older sibling who then try to get their kindergartner into the first-choice school. If that succeeds, then the older child gets sibling priority during the May transfer period.

      • charlesdschultz Says:

        To extrapolate further, the FIC could even provide a report of currently availabe seats customized to show how many people have a higher priority than you. I wonder if that would alter the choices people make.

      • charlesdschultz Says:

        I had another thought as I was looking at lottery data; the number of seats is also limited by the program you choose (ie, Spec Ed, ESL, etc). So even though a school like Garden Hills might have so many strands, they have seats reserved for various programs.

        And this ongoing discussion is an example of how comples it can get. 🙂 My observation is that most parents are quite content with the boiled-down, simplified version. And I think that is what the FIC tries to deliver. Keeping it simple. It is a challenge when so many different parents want and expect different things. My advice to the FIC has been, yes, keep it simple, but provide all the details for those who want it. The latter is the harder part.

  2. kirsten Says:

    The short answer on Dr Howard–it is a great school, with terrific teachers, staff, and families. But as all the other schools are upgraded, with both facilities and programming, our poor old building just seems more and more decrepit. It’s hard to compete with the shiny. I believe we still have plenty of families who want to switch to DH when their children test into gifted, but interest in starting there at the kindergarten level is waning. Dr Howard has been a central (no pun intended) part of the facilities discussion, which might also reduce its choice numbers–do you want to choose a school that might be moved soon?

    • AlisonC Says:

      I still wonder whether Dr. Howard could do a better job of selling itself, despite the terrible building. For example, I have the impression that the PTA does a lot of community-building events–possibly more than other schools–but this wasn’t mentioned when I took a principal-led tour (no PTA parents present) a couple of years ago. It is true that all the other elementaries except South Side have buildings that are either relatively new or are on the recent renovations list.

  3. pattsi Says:

    I would be very interested in people writing as to why a new school building is important. I understand renovations, but not the expansion of the building foot print. Why not add vertically using ramps as part of the interior design, such as in urban areas and Europe? Herei the modus operandi is cover land, need of lots of acres.

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