Data Points

Expand all | Collapse all

School Choice and School Attendance Zones

  • 1.  School Choice and School Attendance Zones

    Pitney Bowes
    Posted 05-22-2019 13:10
    Edited by John Tagliaferro 05-22-2019 17:17

    School Attendance Zones and the model used to present them has been challenged by school choice programs.

    School Attendance Zones (SAZ's) are available across the United States as part of the School Boundaries product, along with School Points and School District Boundaries.   School attendance zones are created by sourcing school zone maps from school districts as well lists of addresses which can show assigned schools and other materials that allow our team to create a set of boundaries.  A school is then associated with an attendance zone in our product.

    The model with the School Boundaries product has been a simple one. SAZ's are drawn when resources are available and as part of a typical public school system where students are assigned based on where they live.   This model has been challenged however as school choice programs have been introduced all over the country.  If a child has the choice to attend any school in the district, or even a larger area, then is there really an attendance zone that can be drawn anymore?

    Let's look at school choice first... it does not follow a single model, in fact it can vary quite a bit.   Here are a few main categories:
    1) Zoned School Choice - typically characterized by overlapping attendance zones where an additional process is used to determine the school a child can attend
    2) Complete School Choice -  A child is allowed to attend any school in the district or specific area as long as there is availability
    3) Geographically Preferred School Choice - Children that live within a certain proximity of a school are either guaranteed to have a seat or given preference over other children wanting to attend that school.

    The latest School Boundaries product specification has made an important addition and a model change to help adapt to school choice systems.   First we have introduced a binary school choice attribute which is being populated on any school point that participates in a school choice program.   Second, we found that having a rigid specification which stated that we would not include attendance zones if there was any type of school choice, resulted in a noticeable reduction in SAZ's and some questions and concerns.  We have adopted a new model for geographically preferred school choice where if we can source a boundary that is used for assigning attendance - even in a school choice model  - we will capture that boundary as an SAZ and mark the school as school choice.  This gives the product more functionality and users the ability to utilize these boundaries in applications if /when it makes sense to do so.

    How is this change impacting you? What do you think will help address this challenge beyond what we’ve done?  I welcome any additional feedback you may have on this topic,


    John Tagliaferro
    Pitney Bowes
    White River Junction VT

  • 2.  RE: School Choice and School Attendance Zones

    Pitney Bowes
    Posted 05-22-2019 16:59
    Good information on the US approach John. In Australia the Government Schools have very defined boundaries that are sometime difficult to access, however the selection of students is very similar - if a student is in the catchment they have to take them, if outside the boundary students apply. We also have a lot of private schools. These essentially have no boundary, it is a school selection process.
    One of the most visible uses of this information is in Real Estate, with distance to schools used as a selling point. Often with the visibility not just being in selling spiels and listed schools with distances, but visual representations of school locations in the property images - such as in the below.
    Marketing of property by proximity to schools

    Gerry Stanley
    Pitney Bowes Australia Pty Ltd
    Macquarie Park