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The New York City High School Match

How Do New York City Schools Assign Seats?

School Assignment, December 2005

In coor­di­na­tion with the New York City Department of Education, Abdulkadiroglu, Pathak, and Roth explore the mech­a­nism which matches over 90,000 enter­ing stu­dents to pub­lic high schools each year.  They report on the process to reveal that New York City needs more good schools.  Given the stock of seats, more stu­dents can be admit­ted to the schools they want if the match­ing process elim­i­nates con­ges­tion to more fully account for stu­dents’ preferences.

New York City has the largest pub­lic school sys­tem in the coun­try, with over a mil­lion stu­dents.  In 1969 the sys­tem was decen­tral­ized into over 30 com­mu­nity school dis­tricts. In the 1990s, the city began to take more cen­tral­ized con­trol, and in 2002, a newly reor­ga­nized NYCDOE began to reform many aspects of the school sys­tem. Jeremy Lack, then the NYCDOE Director of Strategic Planning, con­tacted the team for advice on design­ing a new high-school match­ing process. The three authors advised Lack and his col­leagues, and the DOE’s soft­ware ven­dor, about the design of the match.