Published Online: January 11, 2007

Report Roundup

Researchers Compare School Choice Decision Making

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Given the opportunity to select the schools their children attend, parents in low- to moderate-income families go about it in much the same way their wealthier counterparts do—and appear to be equally satisfied with their choices, according to a study.

Researchers at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, based at the University of Washington in Seattle, surveyed 800 families earning less than $50,000 a year in three cities with new or long-standing school choice programs: Denver, Milwaukee, and Washington. They found that the families rely on multiple sources of information, including school visits, meetings with administrators and teachers, printed materials, and word-of-mouth reviews from family and friends, in deciding which schools their children should attend.

In addition, 45 percent of the parents said academic quality was a key factor in their selections. Nineteen percent cited the school's curriculum or thematic focus, and 11 percent said a school's location or convenience determined their choice. While most families were pleased with the schools they selected, the survey showed that satisfaction levels were higher when children were involved in the decision-making process.

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