IP-6-2007 (November 2007)
Author: Kirstin Hasler and Pamela Benigno
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Colorado is an open enrollment state. Parents must educate themselves about the process of open enrollment in order to take advantage of the opportunity to choose the public school their children will attend. A recent study shows that nearly one-third of low and middle-income parents use the Internet as a method of gathering information about the open enrollment process.
From the summer of 2006 to the summer of 2007, an evaluation of Colorado’s 20 largest school district Web sites was conducted. The Web sites were assigned numerical scores, based on a rubric, in January 2007 and again in July 2007. The rubric evaluates whether school districts met the following criteria:
- A link to up-to-date open enrollment information, including the enrollment period or deadline, the location of applications, where to submit the application, the selection process, the length of time the enrollment is valid, mention of the Colorado High School Activities Association Transfer Rule, an online application form, and a link to official district policy on open enrollment.
- A listing of school profiles or school Web site links that differentiates charter, option, magnet, focus, contract, and alternative schools from neighborhood schools.
The evaluation’s findings include:
- Colorado Springs District 11 and Douglas County School District received the highest number of points available on the Open Enrollment Rubric, but both districts could im- prove the presentation and detail of their information.
- Though not scored on the Rubric, the manner in which districts presented the open enrollment information is an important factor in the ease of access. Poudre School District and Denver Public Schools did not receive the most possible points on the Rubric, yet both districts were exceptional in their presentation of accurate information in a manner which facilitates parental research.
- A clear mention of the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Transfer Rule alerts parents to the possibility that their children may face restricted athletic eligibility if they open enroll during high school. Douglas County School District and Poudre School District both clearly notified parents of the CHSAA Transfer Rule. During the evaluation two districts used incorrect summaries of the Transfer Rule.
- District scores demonstrate that the size and resources of a district do not necessarily
correspond to the quality of online open enrollment information. Brighton School District 27J, the 18th-largest school district in the state, consistently scored much higher than Cherry Creek School District, the fourth- largest district in the state.
Both school districts and families can benefit from Colorado’s open enrollment opportunities. Studies have shown that when a parent chooses a child’s school, parental involvement as a whole increases, which in turn increases the child’s chances of academic success. When districts provide open enrollment information online, they encourage parental involvement and take advantage of an opportunity to market their schools.