I live in Chicago. I plan on homeschooling my kids, but have had my reservations about it and am currently deciding whether or not to send them to public school (which is all I can afford).
In Chicago, there are 9 selective-enrollment public magnet schools. Every school district has a "home high school" which is where kids must go if they are not accepted to one of the 9 magnet schools. Acceptance to the magnet schools is based on 7th grade ISAT scores and on your grades for 7th and 8th grade, I believe. You also have to take a separate test to "test in" to the schools. It is also based on which census tier you live in- map shown here. This has caused a lot of uproar, for good reason.
When I was going into high school (2004), I lived in a tier 4 area (shown in green). Basically higher economic class, more white people, less crime... only my parents were broke, we lived in a cruddy apartment, etc. I ended up testing into two of the magnet schools (which were the ones I applied for). I was fortunate. I believe one of the reasons I was accepted was because my mom put down "hispanic" as my nationality. She was white, my stepdad was white, but I am half Mexican. My neighbor, who had much greater grades than me, but was caucasian, did not get in.
Right now, we live in a tier 4 neighborhood. We are hovering near the poverty line. Kids have to essentially get straight A's and score perfect to get into one of the magnet high schools.
My husband's sister and cousin entered high school a year apart. His sister lives in a tier 3 neighborhood and didn't get into any, despite having great grades and good test scores. His cousin did get in, and her grades weren't so hot and neither were her test scores- she lives in a tier-1 area.
I think it's ridiculous how they're trying to balance out schools racially-.. I see what they're trying to do, it just really sucks.
What is the climate like where you live? Are there magnet schools? Do they use the census tier system? I'm curious how other parts of the country and other big cities go about doing this?