Parent surveys tend to overstate the importance of academics in the school choices made by families in New Orleans’ all-charter system, according to
This is especially true of low-income families, says the report from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, which is housed in Tulane University. Although academic performance does drive parent choice to some extent, distance and extracurricular activities are among other factors that influence school decisions. It also found that families preferred “legacy” school names—or those that were used before Hurricane Katrina accelerated the city’s charter conversion.
For example, parents preferred a C-graded elementary school (in terms of student performance) that is located across the street with an after-school care program to a B school with no such program and two miles away. Parents also typically chose a C-graded legacy high school with football and band over a B-graded school.
Low-income families are more likely to prefer these nonacademic factors, especially location and after-school care, in their school choices.
The report is based on 2013-14 data from the OneApp unified enrollment system, which allows families to list up to eight school choices.
A version of this article appeared in the January 21, 2015 edition of Education Week as School Choice