ERIC Number: ED360739
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Apr
School Choice: What Guides an Adolescent's Decision?
Matson, Barbara Smith
Choice in education gained popularity as a means by which families can become involved in the education of their children. This case study addresses how the interests, needs, and objectives of secondary school students, and their parents as reported by the students, resulted in the choice between two high schools in a suburban district with a policy of school choice. Archival records, documents, personal semistructured interviews, and a general student survey questionnaire (yielding 1,555 secondary school student responses, or a district average of 85.5 percent) is used to investigate students' perceptions, experiences, and reasoning related to choosing a school. Four research questions guided the study. They concerned: factors contributing to students' decisions to choose one school over another; the process of choice; whether choice influences the racial and religious identity of the school community; and the perceived outcomes for the individual students as a consequence of choice. Descriptive statistics are reported. A finding is that students and their families seldom collected systematic information before making a choice decision, instead learning about the schools by word of mouth. The critical determinant of school choice is the student-environment fit, the perception by the student that the school ethos is right for the kind of person that individual perceives him- or herself to be. Both race and religion seemed to have played a modest role in the students' definition of student-environment fit. More than three-fourths of those students who chose their school attendance felt they had made the right choice. (Contains 25 references.) (RR)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Atlanta, GA, April 12-16, 1993).