Many other large US cities have a default assignment policy that looks at your address or the geographic cluster in which the parents live:
- Boston: priority given to siblings + geography, random assignment is used as a last option.
- New York: you register at your zoned school, determined by home address.
- Seattle: you register at your reference area school, determined by home address.
- Los Angeles: register based on home address.
- Washington DC: register based on home address.
New York City in particular uses a successful highschool assignment method designed by Al Roth (a well known researcher and expert in "matching" methods). This is a useful summary paper about it. Excerpts:
"Roth later helped design the market to match New York City public school students to high schools as incoming freshmen. Previously, the school district had students mail in a list of their five preferred schools in rank order, then mailed a photocopy of that list to each of the five schools. As a result, schools could tell whether or not students had listed them as their first choice. This meant that some students really had a choice of one school, rather than five. It also meant that students had an incentive to hide their true preferences. Roth and his colleagues designed an incentive-compatible mechanism and presented it to the school board in 2003. The school board accepted the measure as the method of selection for New York City public school students."
"New York City needs more good schools. But for a given stock of school places, more students can be admitted to schools they want if the matching process is free of congestion, so that students' preferences can be fully taken into account. The new clearinghouse, organized around a stable matching mechanism, has helped relieve the congestion of the previous offer/acceptance/wait-list process and provides more straightforward incentives to applicants."