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Parental Selection of Public Elementary Schools in an Open Enrollment System
Moran, Patrick Woodrow
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The problem. The purposes of this study were to determine the demographic characteristics of parents requesting transfers for their elementary school students, school selection factors which influenced parent school choice decisions, and how long parents considered a transfer before actually requesting one. Procedure. The population included all elementary school parents in one Midwest school district who requested a school transfer during a seven-month period. Telephone interviews were used to collect the study data. Findings. Frequencies and percentages were used to summarize, organize, and interpret the data. Findings are reported with parents grouped according to whether child care was a reason for the transfer request and according to whether the transfer was from one district school to another, from a district school to a school in another city, or from a school outside of the district to a district school. Conclusions. The data suggest parent choices are somewhat segregated by socioeconomic status. The data also suggest that students who have historically been most successful in schools have characteristics similar to those in this study who are leaving the district through open enrollment. Non-district resident parents seeking transfers to a district school reported convenience of the school as the most important reason for requesting a transfer. District resident parents were more likely to report the most important reason was the school's instructional program. Recommendations. Additional studies are recommended to investigate the long-term effects of open enrollment or school choice on students and schools. More in-depth research is warranted to more precisely determine why a parent selects one public school over another in a school choice, market-driven school environment.