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December 8, 2012

Madison School District Open Enrollment Leavers Report, 2012-13

Superintendent Jane Belmore (700K PDF):

For the 2012-13 school year, MMSD has 1041 leavers and 281 enterers for a net enrollment decrease of 760 students due to open enrollment.

Of the 1041 leavers for 2012-13, 663 were "continuing leavers" who open enrolled outside of the District in previous years. The other 378 leavers left MMSD for the first time this year.

The increasing number of total leavers in recent years results from many consecutive years of increases in first-time leavers who subsequently become continuing leavers.

First time leavers increased from 333 to 378 from 2011-12 to 2012-13.

About 40% of the MMSD residents who open enroll outside of the district for the first time never attended MMSD and could be considered "stayers" for other districts.

A 2009 survey of open enrollment leavers showed that personal preference led to about one third of the decisions to leave, including concerns about safety, drugs and negative peer pressure. Proximity to other districts' schools accounts for about a quarter of the reasons for attending another district. About a quarter were related to curricular, after school or virtual programs.

Related: Much more on "open enrollment", here, and the Madison School District's enrollment forecast (PDF).

Posted by Jim Zellmer at December 8, 2012 3:03 AM
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If the goal is to retain families who are inclined to leave the district (or even persuade those who have left to return), it would be reasonable to gather meaningful feedback on why families are making those choices. One survey with 75 responders from four school years ago is unlikely to be helpful for this. If an effort is made in the future to ask leavers why they left, that feedback should also be elicited from those who have sought to leave but are prevented from doing so by the district's open enrollment denial policies. After the 2007 US Supreme Court decision in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1, open enrollment denials on the basis of 'racial imbalance' have ended, but open enrollment denials against many students with disabilities who seek to leave the district continue. The impressions left by the manner in which those denials are issued and enforced are unlikely to be overcome by the p.r. strategies recommended by the report.

Posted by: Chan Stroman at December 9, 2012 5:52 PM

My reading of the data (not all of which is presented above) indicates white flight, predominantly around the edges of the district. How can anyone be surprised by this? Our abject failure to support the highest achievers while concurrently throwing everything we have at the lowest achievers hasn't worked very well. Art Rainwater said this was going to happen. He was right. Luckily for the MMSD, there are many families who are dedicated to public education AND have high achieving children. Rather than run, they have doubled down on their efforts for their own children. I fear that trend could be changing.

Posted by: david cohen at December 11, 2012 7:53 PM
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