MIAMI — The Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ (M-DCPS) Department of School Choice and Parental Options was recently ranked number 10 by The Brookings Institution in its “Education Choice and Competition Index.”

The district, reported as having 383,482 students in 515 schools, rounded out a top 10 led by the New Orleans’ Recovery District, and came in just ahead of the Chicago public schools. The M-DCPS district was recognized for providing a significant number of its own options through its magnet programs and career academies.

Brookings used its “Education Choice and Competition Index” to score more than 100 school districts across the country. The formula for scoring was based on 13 categories. It took into consideration whether alternatives were available such as magnet schools, virtual courses, tax credit scholarships, affordable private schools, vouchers and charter schools.

The Broward County School District, listed as having 277,459 students in 320 schools, was ranked 22. The 190,353-student, 247-school Palm Beach County School District  ranked 56. Not ranked in the index was the much smaller Monroe County School District, based in Key West, with 11 traditional K-12 schools and four charter schools.

In Miami-Dade, M-DCPS officials say that for more than 50 years the district has been at the forefront of the choice movement in education, having established Henry S. West Laboratory School in 1954, as an experimental school of choice associated with the School of Education at the University of Miami.

Magnet programs began in M-DCPS in 1973 with the opening of a center for the Expressive Arts in the heart of the inner city. Since then, M-DCPS has implemented a variety of choice programs including the first corporate–based Satellite Learning Center in 1987; the first controlled open-enrollment schools in 1995; the state’s first charter school in 1996; and most recently, the federally financed Voluntary Public School Choice Program in 2002.

As of this school year, officials said, approximately 41 percent of Pre-K through 12 students in M-DCPS have made an active choice in the school or program in which they are enrolled.