Boston’s school committee is scheduled to decide Wednesday night who should head Boston Public Schools. Committee members will choose from three candidates who offer different experiences, visions for the job and temperaments, from a candid, no-nonsense educator to more conciliatory and flexible policymakers.

Based on hours of interviews, here’s a review of their performance, in the order they appeared before the public.

Marie Izquierdo

Of all the candidates, Izquierdo was the most critical of Boston Public Schools and of Massachusetts education policy. On the district’s inconsistent — and, in many cases, easier — graduation requirements in its high schools, Izquierdo scoffed: “When I tell friends and colleagues that schools in Boston have different graduation requirements, they’re dummified.”

When talking about the English-only law that until recently banned bilingual education in Massachusetts schools, Izquierdo said, “That’s criminal.”

Izquierdo didn’t hold back her opinions.

Her criticism may say something about Izquierdo’s personality and may be impolitic, but it could also reflect genuine shock about the way things are done in Boston, especially compared to Miami-Dade County Public Schools, where she’s spent her entire career. In the eyes of school improvement experts, Miami-Dade County is doing a lot of things right and, as chief academic officer, Izquierdo gets credit for some of it.

Izquierdo was the only candidate to lay out a clear plan for improving schools, based on Miami’s playbook. Whether one likes her plan or not, there’s a clear sense of what she would do.

  1. Make sure all students, including children in special education and English learners, are getting grade-level coursework. “We tend to water things down, and what we’re doing is a disservice to children.”
  2. Constantly train teachers and set the training priorities in the central office.
  3. Use data to drive instruction.
  4. Send more resources to needy schools.
  5. Laser-focus on “fragile” schools.

She spoke directly about closing schools, one of the more sensitive issues in town. That blunt talk might sink her with some parents, teachers and school advocates.

“We have 18,000 students that are not choosing BPS and we have declining enrollment,” Izquierdo told her panel of interviewers. “And while we may not like those data points, they are real. So we have to, as an organization, adjust accordingly.”

She also spoke about a future in Boston Public Schools without busing.

“It’s a shame, really, that kids have to traverse this city and ride for upwards of two hours to get to what they and their families perceive as a good school,” Izquierdo told the school committee. “I want to be a part of raising the stature of schools in their neighborhoods so they don’t feel like they have leave to get a high-quality education.”

By the end of her presentation, she left a sense of being someone who would try to shake up the district. Whether she would be successful is unclear. She’d likely challenge the autonomy of schools to decide how and when teachers are trained, raise high school graduation standards, change how English learners are taught, change how money is allocated, change how many buildings operate, perhaps open more exam schools, and create different thematic options for schools. And it might be expected, based on her interview, that she’d offer a data-informed case for doing it.

But much is unknown. How would she react to pushback? How would she work in Boston, after an entire life in Miami where Cuban Americans, like her, are ascendant? After training under a rockstar superintendent who was himself an unauthorized immigrant from Portugal, how would she work in a district and state that don’t have a great track record in recent years when it comes to educating immigrants and English learners?

And how would she work with parents and teachers?

As much as she tried to portray herself as someone with experience beyond academics, it’s not clear how she would handle the operations part of the job, which tripped up Tommy Chang, the last permanent superintendent.

Brenda Cassellius

Cassellius presented herself as a polished, adaptable and thoughtful leader. She was unwilling to say much that was critical or lay out a plan for addressing problems in the district. That approach seemed strategic, or perhaps an expression of her personality, but it could also be read as a lack of preparation or lack of interest in the job.

Cassellius had publicly interviewed the day before for state education commissioner for Michigan. Another possibility is that, because of her broad experience, she’s not fazed by the challenges in the district, or that her time working directly in schools was so long ago that it’s hard to summon those memories and examples.

There were signs that she is diplomatic.

“You just don't last that long if you can't handle the politics,” she said of her eight years as commissioner of education in Minnesota. “I’m a strong communicator and strong collaborator. I'm very familiar with the role of chief executive."

At another moment, she said, “I'm familiar working in a political environment. I know when to say something, when not to say something. Who to say it to, when not to say it at all. I learned real quickly not say anything unless you have a win in it for kids."

Once, Cassellius ventured into criticism when responding to a question about whether integration is still important in closing achievement gaps. She said she was committed to integration, but "busing kids around the city has not worked."

When she did offer a vision for closing achievement gaps in the district, she said she’d take a two-pronged approach of working on what happens both inside and outside of school. Cassellius says it’s the responsibility of schools to coordinate social services for students and their families, whether it’s housing, health services, or food.

“Trying to coordinate those services within our high-poverty schools would be a critical lever in terms of impacting the out-of-school factors,” she said.

When pushed by this reporter to spell out some vision for closing achievement gaps inside schools, Cassellius explained her hesitation and described her role as more of a vehicle to enable the district to do things it’s already identified as priorities.

“Equity, inclusion and collaboration. That sets the vision. So we’ll be making those decisions together about how to create equitable practices,” she said. “I’ve seen clearly that the school committee wants more rigor. So I’d look to see how we have more rigor. I’ve heard clearly that they want to have more inclusionary practices for special education students and more services for bilingual education and seeing language as an asset. And so that’s what I would try to do.”

She acknowledged the challenges of this work and setting priorities.

“I think that’s the work of the community, because some of that comes with trade-offs,” she said. “You can’t do everything.”

Cassellius gave the impression of an unflappable steady hand. She didn’t, however, communicate a sense of urgency, which again may have been strategic. She may have calculated that naming the problems in Boston Public Schools would alienate the people who would hire her. Still, it’s not clear how quickly or decisively she’d move to bring change.

Oscar Santos

If Izquierdo communicated a sense of urgency and a critical eye for what’s not working in Boston and Cassellius presented herself as the calm leader who would aim to bring everyone together to advance shared goals, Santos offered an option more in the middle.

He didn’t lay out a multi-step plan for improving all schools.

“The first thing you have to do before you lay out a plan is you really need to do is learn, you need to listen. Then you can lead,” Santos said.

At the same time, he asserted multiple times that he would adopt state graduation requirements in Boston high schools. Currently, Boston’s high schools have inconsistent requirements, most of them less demanding than the state’s recommended four years of math and English and three years of lab-based science.

To offer detailed ideas for how to fix Boston’s high schools, Santos drew on his prior experience running Boston International High School and now as head of school for Cathedral High School, a college-preparatory Catholic school in Boston’s South End.

“There’s an opportunity for schools to be more entrepreneurial,” he said. “We need to think of high schools as early college campuses.”

Santos spoke about the importance of designing high schools so students “can meet their personal passions” and connecting students to mentors and after-school opportunities to train for jobs in area industries.

Of the three candidates, Santos has the most experience teaching English learners, the subject of his doctoral dissertation. Santos says he favors native language instruction for English learners, pointing to research showing that students learn a second language better if they’ve been able to develop their first language. Now that a new state law has given the schools the option to teach students in their native language, Santos signaled he would develop those programs and give parents a choice for how they want their children taught.

Perhaps because Santos grew up in Boston and taught in the district, he had a more nuanced response to questions about how to engage parents who don’t already come to school committee meetings or participate in parent groups.

He said he would use his cultural competence as someone who grew up Dominican in Dorchester to connect with parents. It’s best to speak one way to Latinos in Dorchester who might be Dominican, and another way with Latinos in East Boston who might be from Honduras or Guatemala, he said.

Santos tried to address this same problem in Randolph, he said, by starting a basketball league with fathers so he could hear their concerns about their children’s schooling.

“Our job is to teach parents to engage and how to navigate schools,” he said. “We need to [build] out the skill sets of families so they can advocate for their children.”

He portrayed himself as someone who uses data to make decisions, but also needs to see schools in person to diagnose problems and solutions.

As for closing schools and Mayor Marty Walsh’s plan to modernize schools, Santos said: “There are going to be schools that have to be closed or recreated because they’re so dangerous. But it has to be done with humanity and intention and a plan” driven by academic needs.

Santos leaves the impression of someone who is thoughtful and relates to the needs of low-income and immigrant students in the district. It’s not clear how he would work with the school committee or mayor. From his experience as superintendent in Randolph, Santos said he learned: “You can’t do it alone. You have to build alliances.”

Santos said he had a good working relationship with the then-town manager Dave Murphy in Randolph, which he confirmed.

Our coverage of K through 12 education is made possible with support from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect that the state recommends four years of math and English and three years of lab-based science, but these recommendations are not requirements.