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Hartford resident students have school choice and apply to many different types of schools in a variety of locations, but not all students exercise their right to choose the school they attend. While the number of students attending HPS who do submit applications to change school is known, an analysis of the individual characteristics of these students has not been done. Without such an analysis, a full evaluation of the success of school choice in Hartford is not possible. But before we explore the differences between those who choose and those who do not, we need to analyze the entire pool of Hartford students. In our study, we ask: Who are the students living in Hartford who could potentially exercise their right to choose? Demographic, school attendance, performance, and continuity characteristics of Hartford residents attending Hartford public schools (district and magnet) in grades 3-8 over a five-year period (2008-2013) are explored. We find that while the percentage of Hispanic, Special Education, English Language Learners, and Magnet School students have increased, Black students has decreased in the HPS system over the five year period. While the majority of students attend a school in the same zone in which they reside, in 2012-13, there is an increase in students residing in Zones 1 and 4 who attend a school outside their school zone. Over the five years of our study, only 7% of the students whose CMT test results place them as “below basic” or “basic” in 2008-09 became “high-achievers” in 2012-13. Of those who were “proficient,” only 27% improved their score to “high-achiever” status. Of those who were “high-achievers” in 2008-09, 42% performed worse in 2012-13. Lastly, the percentage of students who leave the HPS system and are high achievers is not different from the percentage of students who stay in the HPS system and are high achievers for each of the five years. In the next semester, we will analyze the characteristics of students leaving the HPS system.


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