SmartChoice: An Online Recommender System to Support Low-Income Families in Public School Choice

  • David C. Wilson University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Suzanne Leland University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Kenneth Godwin University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Andrew Baxter University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Ashley Levy University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Jamie Smart University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Nadia Najjar University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Jayakrishnan Andaparambil University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Keywords: recommender systems, user modeling, public school choice

Abstract

Public school choice at the primary and secondary levels is a keyelement of the U.S. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).  If aschool does not meet assessment goals for two consecutive years, bylaw the district must offer students the opportunity to transfer to aschool that is meeting its goals.  Making a choice with such potentialimpact on a child's future is clearly monumental, yet astonishinglyfew parents take advantage of the opportunity.  Our research has shownthat a significant part of the problem arises from issues ininformation access and information overload, particularly for lowsocioeconomic status families.  Thus we have developed an online,content-based recommender system, called SmartChoice.  Itprovides parents with school recommendations for individual studentsbased on parents' preferences and students' needs, interests,abilities, and talents.  The first version of the online applicationwas deployed and live for focus group participants who used it for theJanuary and March/April 2008 Charlotte-Mecklenburg school choiceperiods.  This article describes the SmartChoice Program and theresults of our initial and followup studies with participants.

Author Biographies

David C. Wilson, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Assistant Professor

Department of Software and Information Systems

Suzanne Leland, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Associate Professor

Department of Political Science

 

Kenneth Godwin, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Marshall Rauch Distinguished Professor of Political Science

Department of Political Science

Andrew Baxter, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Department of Political Science

Ashley Levy, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Department of Political Science

Jamie Smart, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Department of Political Science

Nadia Najjar, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Department of Software and Information Systems
Jayakrishnan Andaparambil, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Department of Software and Information Systems
Published
2009-06-30
Section
Articles