IPP Policy Brief n°62
Authors: Julien Grenet, Youssef Souidi
In an attempt to reduce social segregation among the capital’s middle schools (collèges), Paris city and educational authorities have been experimenting with a new method for assigning students to public schools since the start of the 2017 school year : multi-school catchment areas. This system consists of defining catchment areas common to several middle schools that are geographically close but have contrasting social profiles. The objective is to broaden the catchment areas of the middle schools to rebalance their social recruitment. Two distinct methods were tested for assigning students to the three two-school catchment areas set up in the 18th and 19th arrondissements of the capital : “alternating ascent” (montée alternée) and regulated choice of school. The results of the first three years of experimentation (2017 to 2019) are encouraging. Two of the three catchment areas have achieved their social diversity objective with a clear decrease in students enrolling in private schools. In the third catchment area, after initially disappointing results, the disparities in social composition between the two middle schools began to narrow in the third year of the experiment and enrolment at private schools declined. Beyond Paris, multi-school catchment areas are a promising avenue for promoting social diversity in public secondary education when the population density is sufficiently high and the urban social fabric sufficiently diversified to allow for social mixing of school populations, as is the case in Paris.
- From the start of the 2017 school year, three two-school catchment areas were set up
in the 18th and 19th arrondissements of the capital, involving about 1,000 students each
year when they enter sixth grade (the first year of middle school).
- Two methods were used to assign students to the middle schools in the merged catchment
areas : “alternating ascent” (Berlioz-Coysevox catchment area) and regulated
choice of school (Bergson-Pailleron and Curie-Philipe catchment areas).
- In the Berlioz-Coysevox and Bergson-Pailleron catchment areas, social diversity increased
significantly in the sixth grade and the rate of avoidance to private schools decreased
from 15% to 30% between 2016 and 2019.
- In the Curie-Philipe catchment area, the scheme led to a 20% decrease in avoidance for
private schools between 2016 and 2019, but its effects on social diversity have been
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