Skip to main content

The Education Choice and Competition Index

The Education Choice and Competition Index

The Education Choice and Competition Index (ECCI) is an annual guide to the conditions of K-12 school choice in the nation’s largest school districts. The ECCI examines variation in district-level choice based on objective scoring of thirteen categories of policy and practice. Results from the ECCI are available through an interactive web application. The intent of the ECCI is to create public awareness of the differences among districts in their support of school choice, provide a framework for efforts to examine the impact of choice and competition, and document changes over time in the policies and practices of school choice.

Initiated in 2011, the ECCI has become the principal resource for those wishing to explore differences in choice and competition in K-12 education systems across the U.S. Scroll down for access to each year’s ECCI.


The 2016 Education and Choice Competition Index

Denver won the top spot for large districts for second year in a row in the 2016 Education Choice and Competition Index (ECCI). The Recovery District serving New Orleans came in second. Denver and the Recovery District were the only two districts in the ECCI that receive grades of A on school choice.

Notably, Camden City School District in New Jersey and the Clark County School District in Nevada saw substantive enough changes to move them from receiving an F in the previous year to a B- and C-, respectively. New to the top 10 list this year are Columbus and Chicago, while Baltimore and Tucson dropped off.

Almost one-quarter, or 26 of the 112 school districts scored on the 2016 ECCI received a grade of F, meaning that families have very little in the way of school choice other than what they can exercise by choosing to live within the geographical assignment zone of their preferred public school. Or, if they do provide school choice, the process is hidden from parents

2016 ECCI Release Event

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered keynote remarks at the release of the 2016 ECCI. You can watch video of her remarks here.


The 2015 Education Choice and Competition Index

ECCI map

For the fourth year in a row, the Recovery School District in New Orleans ranked first on the 2015 Education Choice and Competition Index (ECCI). Based on objective scoring of 13 categories of education policy and practice, the ECCI provides a snapshot of choice and competition in the nation’s 100 largest school districts to allow for comparisons of specific policies and practices.

Denver, the first large school district to earn an A, rose from number six in the 2014 rankings to number two in this year’s rankings because of increased enrollment in alternative schools, parents’ ability to make side-by-side school comparisons on the school assignment website, the elimination of default school assignments for about half the schools in the city, and the reservation of seats at choice schools so that parents could exercise choice 365 days a year. Other top-performing districts in 2015 include New York City, Newark, Washington, D.C., Houston, Pinellas County (FL), Boston, Baltimore, and Tuscon.

2015 ECCI Release Event

Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver delivers a keynote address at the release of the 2015 ECCI on February 4, 2015. Follow the link above to watch footage of the event.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

The 2014 Education Choice and Competition Index

ECCI map 2

*Download our 2014 infographic.

The Recovery School District in New Orleans once again ranked first on the 2014 ECCI. New York City also maintained its position in second place overall and first place among the 100 largest school districts.

Several top performing districts, New Orleans, NYC, Denver, and Newark, stood out for their use of a centralized computer-based algorithm to assign public high school students to schools in such a way as to maximize the match between student preferences and school assignment, conditional on any admission requirements exercised by the school.

2014 ECCI Release Event

Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) delivered the keynote address at the release of the 2014 ECCI on February 4, 2015. Follow the link above to watch footage of the event.

Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health
Senator Lamar Alexander

The 2013 Education Choice and Competition Index

The 2013 Education Choice and Competition Index
The 2013 Education Choice and Competition Index

*Download this infographic.

As in 2012, the 2013 ECCI examined 107 school districts: the 100 largest districts in the U.S. in terms of student enrollment plus seven additional mid-sized districts that were of interest because of their choice and competition policies.

The Recovery School District in New Orleans was the highest scoring district on the 2013 ECCI. The correlation between 2013 and 2012 aggregate district scores was high, illustrating that districts demonstrate little year-to-year change in their commitment to school choice. There are exceptions, however. For example, Denver moved from 24th to 5th place due to its implementation of a unified application process for all its public schools including charters.

2013 ECCI Release Event

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) presented the keynote address at the release of the 2013 ECCI on January 8, 2014. Follow the link above to watch archived footage of the event.

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

The 2012 Education Choice and Competition Index

ECCI map 3

The 2012 ECCI examined 107 school districts: the 100 largest districts in the U.S. in terms of student enrollment plus seven additional mid-sized districts that were of interest because of their choice and competition policies.

The Recovery School District in New Orleans (RSD) was the highest scoring district on the 2012 ECCI.  It was the first and only district to receive a grade of A on the ECCI for its choice and competition environment.

2012 ECCI Release Event

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal presented the keynote address at the release of the 2012 ECCI on December 11, 2012. Follow the link above to watch archived footage of the event.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

The 2011 Education Choice and Competition Index

Kids runningThe first iteration of the ECCI, in 2011, examined the 25 largest school districts in the United States.

New York City received the highest numeric score, with Chicago coming in second place. Both districts received a letter grade of “B.”

2011 ECCI Release Event

Former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein presented the keynote address at the release of the inaugural ECCI on November 30, 2011.

Former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein
Former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein
Get daily updates from Brookings