Exit, Voice or Loyalty: Factors Influencing Parental School Choice Decisions
Reynolds, Ramona Y.
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School Choice continues to drive local, state, and national educational reform agendas, yet research to date has failed to consider parent perceptions of various Choice policies. This descriptive, qualitative study of parents from one low performing school in a large school district in Western New York contributes an instructive lens to the literature to help develop a better understanding of Choice information that parents use, how they process the information, and what additional information they need to make Choice decisions. These parent perceptions should be seriously considered in shaping local, state, and federal Choice policies, especially since the policy was written to assist parents. After conducting 18 semi-structured interviews, among other findings, the researcher was able to determine that parents need more comprehensive academic and nonacademic school information in order to make more informed Choice decisions. Parents also need more viable Choice options in order to move beyond viewing Choice as an “illusion” or “deception”. These insights are critical in order for districts to establish structures and systems that ensure equitable access to high-quality schools for all students.