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ERIC Number: EJ1162343
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
(Re) Searching for a School: How Choice Drives Parents to Become More Informed
Lovenheim, Michael F.; Walsh, Patrick
Education Next, v18 n1 p73-77 Win 2018
Policies that expand school choice aim to empower parents by giving them the opportunity to choose the school that best fits their child. Publicly funded school choice has increased considerably in recent years, helped by a variety of initiatives, including public charter schools, transfer options for students under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), inter-district enrollment programs, and a variety of policies to subsidize private-school tuition. If choice programs rely on knowledgeable parents to drive competition and market-based decisions, do such programs act as an incentive for parents to become more informed? Does the existence of a choice program cause parents to seek information about their educational options? If this is the case, then concerns based on how informed parents are in areas where choice is limited may not tell us much about how informed they would be if given more options. The authors address this question by analyzing more than 100 million individual searches on the nation's largest school-quality website, These data are linked to information on changes both in public school-choice options under the now-defunct NCLB law and in the number of charter schools in an area. The analysis constitutes the first direct assessment of how the demand for school-quality information responds to the choice environment. The authors find consistent evidence that search frequency increases due to the expansion of school choice as a result of NCLB and the growth of charter schools. This finding suggests that the mere availability of school information is not sufficient to alleviate knowledge gaps; rather, parents must also have an incentive to seek out and use the information available. Given prior findings that clear information about school quality can lead parents to choose schools that increase student achievement, this study highlights the potential value of pairing choice policies with easily accessible data on school quality.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A