Montgomery County Public Schools Boundary Analysis
The Districtwide Boundary Analysis seeks to understand the degree to which current school boundaries in Montgomery County, MD further MCPS’s objectives to facilitate equitable and optimal outcomes in facility use, student diversity within schools, student proximity to schools, and stability of student assignments. WXY conducted a range of analyses and built an Interactive Boundary Analysis tool to better understand these challenges and worked with the community and students through a series of in-person and virtual engagement sessions.
At the district level, 54% elementary schools, 33% middle schools, and 56% high schools are overcrowded. Many schools in the district have very different utilization rates from their nearest schools pointing to inefficient school boundaries.
While no single racial/ethnic group represents a majority of students in MCPS, our analysis shows that there is often a correlation between socio-economic and racial dissimilarity across the district. The current feeder pattern seems to contribute to this racial and social isolation. Approximately 60-70% of all students attend school closest to their home. However, certain clusters show significant disparities where a few students must travel a lot farther than the rest. The widest of such disparities can be seen at the middle school level.
WXY built five scenario models to better understand the benefits and impacts of changing school attendance area boundaries. A few findings form the final report are highlighted below:
- Current cluster boundaries are an impediment to addressing capacity challenges, especially in the most overcrowded schools.
- Changes at a comprehensive, districtwide scale can achieve much greater improvements to utilization, diversity and proximity issues than small localized changes.
- It is possible to improve school utilization and diversity at the same time when adjusting boundaries between neighboring schools.
- It is challenging to improve distances to school while improving other metrics, particularly utilization.
In the Districtwide Boundary Analysis process, data intelligence and community intelligence operated in tandem. Approximately 4000+ community members and students were engaged through in person and digital platforms. Special sessions were held in different languages to engage hard to reach and student community. Over 3000 survey responses were received in various formats that helped inform the interim and final report.
The Interactive Boundary Explorer (IBE) is an online platform that was developed togive the MCPS community an opportunity to interact with the data being analyzed aspart of the Districtwide Boundary Analysis, and add their voice to the process. TheIBE was the central platform for engagement.
WXY prepared a series of video tutorials to train the community members to explore and analyze their school’s data.