Families & the Community

Study: Do Parents Need a Reason to Go School Shopping?

By Sarah D. Sparks — November 14, 2017 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It’s not enough for parents to have access to data on school quality; they need an explicit reason to start comparing schools to make use of that information, finds a new study in Education Next.

New school options, be they from a move, a charter school opening, or the No Child Left Behind Act’s public school transfer program, spurred parent activity on the school ratings website, GreatSchools.org, the study found. Michael Lovenheim, an associate professor of policy analysis at Cornell University, and Patrick Walsh, an associate professor of economics at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, tracked more than 102 million keyword searches on the site.

They were able to match searches to school districts in 39 states and track the ebb and flow of searching activity in each community from 2010 to 2013.

Monthly activity on the site rose significantly during that time, from fewer than 1,000 searches in January 2010 to more than 600,000 in October 2013. Lovenheim and Walsh then compared local search activity with the national averages during that time, while also taking into account the percentage of new families with school-age children who moved to the communities.

Those years were at the tail end of the No Child Left Behind law, when some states were still implementing the law’s requirement that poor-performing schools allow their students to transfer to higher-achieving schools—but some states received waivers from those requirements.

The researchers found that when the number of low-performing schools that had to offer transfers rose by 10 percentage points in an area, parent-search activity on GreatSchools jumped by 7.2 percent. And by contrast, if a state later secured a waiver from NCLB’s transfer requirements, school searches in communities that previously had public school choice fell by 4 percent out of every 10 percentage-point increase it had previously gained.

The researchers also found that when a charter school opened in an area, searches rose by 5.3 percent.

The authors write that their findings imply that “for many families, the availability of school quality information alone is not sufficient to lead them to become better-informed about school options. Parents must also have an incentive to seek and use this information.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2017 edition of Education Week as Study: Do Parents Need a Reason to Go School Shopping?

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community What Happens to the Lost-and-Found Mound at the End of the Year?
Most schools deal with lost-and-found piles as the school year ends. Some work with outside partners to recycle items for students in need.
5 min read
Dark gray laundry basket full of childrens' items with a white sign that reads "Lost Property"
iStock/Getty
Families & the Community Opinion What Student Impacted You Most as a Young Teacher?
Paying attention to students and their families can provide some of the most valuable lessons to teachers.
Michael Nelson
2 min read
Mike Nelson reads to his students.
Mike Nelson reads to his students.
Mike Nelson
Families & the Community Q&A How These District Leaders Turned Family Engagement on Its Head
Two Leaders to Learn From share insights on what family and community engagement entails.
7 min read
Families & the Community Video ‘A Welcoming Place’: Family Engagement Strategies for Schools (Video)
Schools that enlist parents as partners see positive results. Here's how to do it.
1 min read