School Choice & Charters

Private School Parents Most Satisfied With Their School Choice, Studies Find

By Arianna Prothero — December 13, 2016 2 min read
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Parents of private school students are the most satisfied with their school choice, compared to parents with children in charter and traditional district schools, according to two new studies from Education Next, a journal from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Charter school parents, meanwhile, report that they are happier with their schools than traditional district school parents, in the survey data analyzed for the two studies.

That said, the vast majority of parents in all three sectors report that they are happy with their children’s schools. It’s in how many parents said they were “very satisfied” in response to survey questions that shows where signficant differences in parental satisfaction between the sectors lie.

For the first study, Education Next polled a nationally representative sample of parents in June, and then analyzed federal survey data from 2012 for the second study.

Both surveys asked parents to rate how satisfied they are on issues such as teacher quality, discipline, and academic standards.

The Education Next survey found on average the difference in the number of charter school parents who indicated they were “very satisfied” versus district school parents was 13 percentage points. The difference between private and charter school parents was 12 percentage points.

Those findings were echoed in the journal’s analysis of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics survey data from 2012.

That study also found that high-income parents are generally more satisfied with their children’s schools than low-income parents.

The researchers caution that parents’ perceptions could be distorted by a lack of knowledge or a bias toward their own school—especially if they chose it.

“Although parental perceptions cannot necessarily be interpreted as identifying in-school realities, they do suggest that parental demand for charters and private schools is likely to grow,” Martin R. West, editor-in-chief of Education Next, said in a statement.

Charter school students make up the smallest share of the K-12 population—only about 6 percent compared to 10 percent in private schools and 80 percent in traditional district schools.

There are many more interesting nuggets in the two studies, which you can dig into here.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.