How to Evaluate and Choose a School
Ron Banks; updated by ECAP staff
2002 (Last updated July 2004)

Factors to consider when choosing a school

Whether parents live in a school district that offers school choice, are changing residences, or have a child entering kindergarten, choosing a school is a complex decision that includes the characteristics of the child, family, and schools.

School quality depends on many characteristics, not all easily measurable, and not all equally important for each individual child or family. Parents may want to consider the following characteristics when evaluating a school.

Child characteristics

Parents will want to think about their child's personality, learning style, and any special needs. Does the child need the structure that a traditional school setting would provide, or does he or she prefer to explore and take more personal responsibility for learning? Could she benefit from some type of alternative schooling approach? Does the child respond differently to being in small and large groups? If, for example, a child learns best in small cooperative work groups, then parents may want to consider finding a school that uses this instructional strategy. If a child has a special interest in music or a foreign language, then some preference might be given to a school that offers or excels in those areas in its regular curriculum or through after-school programming or clubs.

Family characteristics

A family's choice of schools will depend on the family's values, in addition to practical considerations such as transportation and tuition costs for private education. Choosing the neighborhood school regardless of other factors may be the best option for many families with close ties to their neighbors and neighborhood community, while choosing a religious school may be the best choice for others.

School characteristics

School philosophy. Parents can read the school's statement of philosophy or mission statement and ask about beliefs that guide the school's program and teaching approaches.

Instructional approaches. Multi-age grouping [
], looping [], and traditional classrooms offer different advantages, and parents will want to know how the school is organized for instruction. Parents will also want to inquire about average class size at the various grade levels. A school with a traditional structure that provides clear standards and expectations may be a good choice for some children, while a school that allows extra freedom and places more responsibility for learning on the child may work well for other children.

School facilities/personnel resources. Although modern, well-designed facilities do not guarantee higher student achievement, some basic features that parents can look for include a well-equipped library, a collection of age-appropriate books and periodicals in addition to textbooks in each classroom, a separate lunchroom and auditorium or large classroom for meetings and presentations, and adequate physical education facilities. With regard to services, parents can check to see whether the school has a full-time library/media specialist, on-site nurse, secretary, and social worker. Parents can also ask about the background and qualifications of the teachers and what specialties are represented (e.g., English as a Second Language, special education, music, art).

School policies. Parents will want to find out about school policies related to scheduling (traditional vs. year-round) and programming day (e.g., block, flexible, or traditional scheduling, hours of building operation). Parents will want to examine the school discipline policy to see if the rules seem fair and consequences seem appropriate. Parents will also want to find out about homework and grading policies.

School reputation. Parents can ask friends, neighbors, parents, and community leaders about the reputation of the school(s) of interest. After listening to each person's opinion, parents can decide whether the positive or negative views would apply to their family and children. Parents may want to find out about special areas of concern, such as whether community diversity is reflected in the faculty, and whether students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds are well integrated into the school culture and activities.

School safety. Parents will want to know how they will be notified in case of an emergency; whether the school has an emergency plan (and they should ask to see it); the policy with regard to guns, knives, and other hazardous items; the school's policy toward bullying; and whether there are formal programs in place to combat bullying. If a parent is especially concerned about school safety, a call to the police department may be appropriate. The National School Safety Center provides additional information on safety at

Curriculum. Does the school have a strong focus on literacy and other key areas? Does it offer a special focus such as immersion in a second language? Parents can find out how well the school addresses core subjects and skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics by looking at the curriculum, visiting classes, and reading the school's report card (please see information below). Does the school's curricular focus match parents' expectations and educational goals for their child?

Family and community involvement issues. Finally, schools that are working toward excellence are developing many ways to involve parents. Parents can ask for a packet from the school about any programs and policies related to parent involvement. Once a school has been chosen, it is important that parents maintain a real commitment to that school, including supporting the staff and contributing time and talents as they are able. Children who see their parents involved in this way have a greater likelihood of school success (Henderson & Berla, 1994). Strong bonds with local businesses and community groups (for mentoring, guest speakers, service learning, and financial support) and opportunities for community use of school facilities after school and in the evening can contribute to the quality of the school and the support that it enjoys in the community.

How can parents find information on individual schools?

School report cards

The 2001 federal No Child Left Behind legislation requires an annual school report card (see for all schools. School report cards describe characteristics of the school, including the number of children, various test scores, ratios of teachers to students, ethnic ratios, poverty levels, and more. Report cards can usually be obtained by contacting the department of education in the state or the school district office where the school is located. If more than one district is under consideration, several districts in the same geographic area can supply this information for comparative purposes. It may also be a good idea to examine school report cards for the last several years and talk to the principal if test scores have declined or if one subject/section of the test leads to dramatically higher results than others. The National Center for Education Statistics provides an analysis of state report cards and links to each state's report cards at

Visiting potential schools

Parents may want to keep in mind that no written set of assessments or test scores can take the place of visiting a school and forming one's own opinion about the overall environment and quality of the school and classrooms. Is the environment welcoming and orderly, yet creative and child friendly? How do the adults interact with the children (friendly? harshly? respectfully?)? Does discipline seem to be enforced? Do the classrooms have desks, or do the children work collaboratively at tables located in various parts of the room? The furnishings in classrooms can cue parents about the teaching philosophy at the school. Classroom arrangement can suggest a structured approach or an approach that encourages independent learning. When parents are thinking about a school, they will want to think about what learning environment is best for their child and how the school accommodates different styles as well as students with special needs. Another important step is to talk with staff and parents in the school. What do they see as strengths and concerns at the school and in the community? What are their goals for the year? Additional advice about school visits may be found in Weston (1989).

While visiting, parents can look for student work on the walls and in display areas, including writing samples and other evidence of literacy projects and artwork. Displays that feature work samples allow parents to see beyond test scores to what the children are learning and how they are learning it. Has the school been recognized with any excellence awards or awards for dramatic recent improvements in achievement? Parents can ask during a visit about turnover of staff and the rate of student transfers, as well as student and teacher absentee rates.


Realtors often have information about the reputation of particular schools in a geographic area. They can be a good resource when making decisions about which neighborhood or area of a city might be the best choice based on what the family is looking for in a school.

Recommendations from the National Association of Elementary School Principals

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP, 1996, 2000) has published articles describing what to look for when visiting a school and presents information on related issues.

  • Moving to a New School
  • What Parents Should Look for in Their Child's Elementary School

The following is advice from NAESP about choosing a school:

1. Check out the school district's annual report to compare the expenditure per pupil in each district you are considering. In many communities, this dollar amount will be closely linked to school quality. This information is often available on the state's department of education Web site. The National Center for Education Statistics offers a searchable resource called the Public School District Finance Peer Search. This resource allows users to find out the per-pupil expenditure for school districts of interest, how those figures compare to school districts that have similar demographic characteristics, and how the district's per-pupil expenditure compares to state and national averages. This resource is located at

2. Check to see what services are available at the school. Look for guidance counselors, an on-site nurse, a librarian, and a secretary, and check to see if they work at more than one school. If any of these key personnel do work at more than one school, be cautious!

3. Check the structure of the school year. Do you want your child in a year-round school or do you prefer a more traditional school calendar?

4. If you are looking at a high school, check to see what percentage of the students go on to college.

5. Check the local library for books and videos on moving to a new school. Look for books for children as well as adults.

6. What is the school's discipline policy? (The school should provide a printed copy of this policy.)

7. How are students graded? (Ask for a sample report card and explanation of the grading system.)

8. How often are textbooks and classroom materials reviewed and updated? (There should be fixed schedules.)

9. Is there a school homework policy? (Some schools prefer to leave homework decisions to individual teachers.)

10. What is the school's safety policy? (Ask about rules for playground activities and strangers on school property.)

11. What extracurricular activities does the school sponsor? (Some schools have student councils and a variety of clubs for special interests like music, drama, and chess.)

12. How many students are assigned to a classroom teacher? (The smaller the class size the better, especially in the primary grades.)

13. Is the library/media center well equipped and organized? (Can children regularly check out books and use the center's resources?)

14. How do the teachers teach? (In many schools, teachers work with students in small groups or work in teams to teach larger groups.)

15. How does the school communicate with parents? (Is there a regular newsletter? Are parents' calls welcome?)

16. Is there an active parent organization? (Ask for a schedule of events and plan to attend the first meeting.)

17. Is there a before- and after-school care program? (This question can be critical for working parents.)

18. Try hard to tour prospective schools. Here's what to look for:

  • A warm welcome by the principal and staff members.
  • A clean, well-maintained campus.
  • Children who are actively involved in learning. Instead of sitting silently, they should be responding to teachers, discussing class work among themselves, and using such technology as calculators, computers, and audiovisual equipment.
  • Teachers who maintain good classroom discipline.
  • Classrooms and hallways filled with students' work.

Several publications and fee-based services also provide information that compares schools, usually by standardized test scores. More information about these resources is provided below.


Henderson, Anne T., & Berla, Nancy (Eds.). (1994). A new generation of evidence: The family is critical to student achievement. Washington, DC: National Committee for Citizens in Education. (ERIC Document No. ED375968)

National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). (1996). Moving to a new school. NAESP, Alexandria, VA.

National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). (2000). What parents should look for in their child's elementary school. NAESP, Alexandria, VA.

Weston, Susan Perkins. (1989). Choosing a school for your child. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Education Research and Improvement. (ERIC Document No. ED302872)

Web Resources

School Information Data Sources provides searchable information about public schools, school districts, and state education systems throughout the nation, including student achievement data, financial information, demographic breakdowns, tax base details, and more.

Boarding School Review
Boarding School Review offers detailed profiles of boarding schools in the United States, as well as rankings of boarding schools along key dimensions such as acceptance rates and SAT scores.

GreatSchools offers information about all K-12 schools in Arizona, California, Texas, and Florida, and basic information about all K-12 public, private, and charter schools in the United States. In the future, the site will expand to include information about additional states.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) School District Demographics
NCES's School District Demographics Web site provides access to school district demographic data useful for describing and analyzing characteristics of school districts, children, and K-12 education. The Web site provides access to data for the 2000-2001 school year including, but not limited to, type of school (special education, vocational education, charter, magnet); students by grade, race/ethnicity, and gender; free lunch eligibility; and classroom teachers. District-level information is also available, such as student, staff, and graduate counts.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) School District Analysis System
This new NCES application allows users to view summary state and national tables of school district data from the 2000 School District Special Tabulation (STP2). Column topics provide a unique distribution of school district data grouped by the indicated characteristics (e.g., percent minority, school district size, etc.).

The Nation's Report Card: National Assessment of Educational Progress from the National Center of Education Statistics
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as "the Nation's Report Card," is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Since 1969, assessments have been conducted periodically in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, and the arts.

The Nation's Report Card: National Assessment of Educational Progress from the National Center of Education Statistics: State Profiles
State Profiles present key data about each state's student and school population and its NAEP testing history and results. The profiles also contain links to other sources of information on this Web site, including the most recent state report cards for all available subjects.

Public School District Finance Peer Search
This searchable resource lets users compare the finances of a school district with its peers (districts that share similar characteristics), as well as with state and national average per-pupil expenditure rates. Teacher-student ratios and revenue analysis are also provided.

Registration required.Register to access documents on

Quality Counts: A Report Card on the Condition of Public Education in the 50 States
A supplement to Education Week
This resource uses data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress for its comparisons. It contains school report cards from the 50 states.

In addition to the annual rating of states across various factors, each Quality Counts report focuses on a specific topic such as early childhood education, technology, and teacher training:

Quality Counts, 2004-Count Me In: Special Education in an Era of Standards

Quality Counts, 2003 - If I Can't Learn from You - Ensuring a Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom

Quality Counts, 2002: Building Blocks for Success: State Efforts in Early Childhood Education

Quality Counts, 2001: Technology Counts 2001

Quality Counts, 2000: Who Should Teach?

Standard and Poor's School Evaluation Services
The site contains S&P reports that discuss each school system's strengths, challenges, and educational return on resources. These reports also include snapshots of important statistics and graphs that highlight comparisons and trends. The site also contains comparisons, trends, and data analysis that allow users to monitor progress, view benchmarks, and customize comparisons of student results, spending, learning environment, taxes, debt, and demographics.

State Departments of Education
Many state departments of education provide detailed assessment testing data for the school districts/counties in their state through the Internet. Users can link to all the state departments of education from this site.

State Comparisons of Education Statistics, 1969-70 to 1996-97
This site contains information on elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education aggregated at a state level. The report contains an array of statistical data, ranging from enrollments and enrollment ratios to teacher salaries and institutional finances. The report was designed to meet the needs of state and local education officials and analysts who need convenient access to state-level statistics.

State Indicators in Education, 1997
This report includes 34 indicators. These indicators were selected in order to (1) take advantage of state-level data available in several NCES data sources, as well as some other data sources, most notably the Current Population Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau; and (2) to present a fairly comprehensive view of most relevant aspects of the condition of education in the United States.

State Profiles of Public Elementary and Secondary Education, 1996-97
This report is divided into three major sections: U.S. Profile, summarizing the statistics across the 50 states and the District of Columbia on all variables; Rankings of the States, consisting of a collection of tables depicting the relative position of the various states and the District of Columbia on selected variables; and Profiles of the States and Outlying Areas, providing numeric and graphic information, listed alphabetically with Department of Defense dependents schools and the outlying areas appearing after the states.

School Choice Guidance
"The School Information Partnership has created a website that displays the school, district and state data required to be publicly reported by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act."

School Choice
Resources and legal information about school choice from the Institute for Justice.

Recent Experience with Urban School Choice Plans
School choice plans have been widely adopted, and most urban areas have a limited choice plan of some sort. This ERIC Digest presents an overview of different choice strategies by reviewing the experiences of several urban areas.

School Choice as an Education Reform: What Do We Know?
The question of whether school choice improves student outcomes persists. This ERIC Digest explores issues surrounding school choice, highlighting major research findings.

Center for Education Reform
From the grassroots to the halls of Congress, CER is a guiding force behind the charter school movement in America. CER's National Charter School Assistance Center has become a primary resource for organizations seeking to establish charter schools in their communities.'s note: This url has changed:

School Directory Resources

American School Directory
This site contains profiles, contact information, and school Web pages for over 100,000 U.S. schools.

Boarding Schools Directory
This site provides information about approximately 300 boarding schools in the United States, Canada, and abroad.

Find Your School: Education Information for Students across the Nation
This site can be searched by public schools, private schools, or a combination of search criteria.

NCES National Public School Locator
This Web site provides a prototype search tool from the National Center for Education Statistics for locating U.S. public elementary and secondary school information. Data include number of classroom teachers, total students, student/teacher ratios, and school population by grade and race/ethnicity.

NCES Global School Locator
This locator contains information collected during the 1999-2000 school year. The locator can be used to retrieve a particular private school or a group of schools, based on specified selection criteria. The information in this locator comes from the approximately 29,000 schools that participated in the 1999-2000 Private School Survey (PSS). The search engine can also be set for public schools, colleges, and libraries.

NCES Private School Locator
The data available on this site come from the 29,939 schools that responded to the 1999-2000 Private School Universe Survey (PSS) conducted by NCES (see for full study). Available information includes type of school, affiliation, association membership, students by grade, race/ethnicity, and student/teacher ratio.

NCES School District Locator
This site contains the locator engine of the NCES School District Demographics Web site (see above).

Peterson's Education Center: Private School Center
This commercial site provides information on Peterson's database of 1,400 private secondary schools.

School Directory Search Database from the National Association of Independent Schools
This site from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) includes information on admissions and financial aid and allows you to search for NAIS member schools in the United States or other countries.

Other Resources

Reference Books

Hattendorf, Lynn C. (2000). Education rankings annual 2001: 4700 rankings and lists on education, compiled from educational and general interest published sources. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc.
This guide lists the best elementary and secondary schools for each state. The guide also compares best schools across states. Criteria for ranking schools are given in the publication.

Education State Rankings 2003-2004 (2003) (ISBN 0-7401-0908-1), Lawrence, KS. Morgan Quitno Press.The first edition of this timely and relevant reference book features education statistics at the pre K-12 level for the 50 United States. Hundreds of tables of state education statistics and rankings in an easy to read and understand format. In addition, learn which is the "Smartest State" for 2003. 448 pages; $49.95 (paper) $6.00 s/h per order. All data are at the state level only. There is no district or individual school breakdown of the data. Web address:

Private secondary schools, 2003. (2002). Princeton, NJ: Peterson's.
This guide provides information on accredited day, boarding, religious, military, junior boarding, and special needs schools worldwide. The school profiles cover programs, cost and financial aid, facilities, and student life.

Unger, Harlow G. (1998). How to pick a perfect private school. New York: Checkmark Books.
How to Pick a Perfect Private School offers parents a guide to private schools. From military academies to country day schools, the various categories of schools are covered in detail, including the advantages private schools offer, how to finance private school education, how to determine a child's educational needs, the criteria for evaluating a school, how to determine the financial condition of a school, and what to look for during the campus visit. The guide also includes a section giving parents a public-school option, describing magnet schools, high-tech schools, and a handful of academic "super schools."

School Information: Fee-based Services

Quality Education Data (QED)
State-by-state school guides that include demographic descriptions of schools in each state are published by QED based on an annual survey. The guides list all public, private, and parochial schools in each state; provide listings of names and addresses of school district and school building administrators; and list the numbers of computers and predominant brands of computers used in the schools. Mailing lists are also available from this organization.

This fee-based service provides comparative information on specific schools in the United States (note: K-12 only). SchoolMatch also includes a free online directory of public school districts, searchable by the metropolitan area of interest, zip code, name of the school system, or the city in which it is located.

5027 Pine Creek Dr.
Westerville, OH 43081
Toll-free: 800-992-5323
Telephone: 614-890-1573

Other Organizations and Agencies

Association of Boarding Schools
4455 Connecticut Ave., Suite A-200
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: 202-966-8705
Fax: 202-966-8708

Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE)
600 Longwater Dr., Suite 208
Norwell, MA 02061
Telephone: 781-982-8600
Fax: 781-982-1998

Council for American Private Education (CAPE)
13017 Wisteria Dr., #457
Germantown, MD 20874
Telephone: 301-916-8460
Fax: 301-916-8485

Independent Schools Association of the Central States
1400 Maple Ave.
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Telephone: 630-971-3581
Fax: 630-971-3584

National Association of Independent Schools
Eleventh Floor
1620 L St., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: 202-973-9700

National Coalition of Girls' Schools
228 Main St.
Concord, MA 01742
Telephone: 978-287-4485
Fax: 978-287-6014

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
Although NCES does not collect statistics to evaluate or compare schools and school districts, some states do collect such statistics. NCES may be able to make state-specific referrals.
Telephone: 202-219-2270

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Non-Public Education
Located within the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs, the three functions of the Office of Non-Public Education are to (1) foster maximum participation of non-public-school students in all federal education programs for which they are eligible; (2) recommend to the Secretary changes in law, regulations, or policies that would increase the availability of educational services to non-public-school students; and (3) review departmental programs and procedures to ensure that services for non-public-school students are provided as required by law.

Office of Non-Public Education
U.S. Department of Education
Room 5E318
400 Maryland Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20202-3600
Telephone: 202-401-1365
Fax: 202-401-1368

ERIC Resources

How to Obtain ERIC Documents and Journal Articles:

References identified with an ED (ERIC document)or EJ (ERIC journal) are cited in the ERIC database. ERIC Documents (citations identified by an ED number) may be available in full text from ERIC at no cost at the ERIC Web site: Journal articles are available from the original journal, interlibrary loan services, or article reproduction clearinghouses.

If you would like to conduct your own free ERIC database searches via the Internet, go directly to

School Ranking/School Choice Resources

ERIC database search through 06/2004

ED477786 UD035726
Title: Self-Selection and Student Achievement in Urban Schools: Examining the Role of Family Educational Involvement.
Author(s) Weinles, Dan
Pages: 47
Publication Date: April 2003
Notes: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, April 21-25, 2003).
Available from: EDRS Price MF01 Plus Postage. PC Not Available from EDRS.
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Research (143); Speeches/meeting papers (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Pennsylvania
Journal Announcement: RIEFEB2004

Educational choice has been found to result in greater satisfaction across schools by social class, race, and prior achievement. However, few studies have attempted to examine stratification effects across choice and non-choice schools by family educational involvement (FEI). Utilizing survey data from the base year of the National Education Longitudinal Study: 1988, the present study sought to investigate first, how FEI is related to the likelihood of attending a school of choice, and second, how FEI is related to the likelihood of attending a choice school of greater admissions selectivity. Finally, the study sought to determine the degree to which school selectivity influences educational achievement, net the effects of FEI. Findings suggest that direct parental involvement in school exerts an independent positive effect on the likelihood of attending a school of choice. Only parental educational expectations, however, were independently and positively associated with attending a school of higher admissions selectivity within the choice sector. Finally, FEI was found to moderate the positive relationship between school admissions selectivity and student achievement, though the relationship remained statistically significant. (Contains 49 references.) (Author/SM)

Descriptors: Academic Achievement; *Achievement Gains; Elementary Secondary Education; *Family Involvement; *Parent Participation; Private Schools; Public Education; *School Choice; Selective Admission; *Urban Schools
Identifiers: *Self Selection (Reading)

ED474674 UD035564
Title: Progress on School Choice in the States. The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder.
Author(s) Kafer, Krista
Author Affiliation: Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC.(BBB19698)
Pages: 19
Publication Date: March 26, 2003
Notes: For the 2001 report, see ED 453 322.
Report No: HFB-1639
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Availability: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Washington, DC 20002-4999. Tel: 202-546-4400; Web site:
Language: English
Document Type: Opinion papers (120)
Geographic Source: U.S.; District of Columbia
Journal Announcement: RIENOV2003

Progress on school choice in the statehouse and courtroom during 2002 set the stage for ambitious 2003 legislative agendas in many states and the U.S. Congress. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that voucher programs do not violate the Constitution, even when participating schools are overwhelmingly religious. Research supporting choice has grown considerably. Ten states publicly fund voucher or tax credit programs, and 39 states and the District of Columbia have charter school laws. In 2002, over 40 school choice bills were introduced. Nonetheless, the majority of poor children remain trapped in failing schools. Nearly 6 in 10 high school seniors lack basic knowledge of U.S. history, and over half of low income 4th graders cannot read at basic levels. Students are behind many of their international peers on tests of core knowledge, despite higher than average per-pupil expenditures. Lawmakers can make decisions informed by the growing body of research illustrating how school choice can improve academic performance of at-risk students, promote parental involvement and satisfaction, and foster accountability. In 2003, Congress will consider new choice legislation and reauthorization of several key federal education programs. It is recommended that Congress provide vouchers to students in the District of Columbia, expand choice for students with special needs, and hold oversight hearings on choice. (Contains 99 footnotes.) (SM)

Descriptors: *Charter Schools; Educational Vouchers; Elementary Secondary Education; Federal Legislation; Home Schooling; Minority Groups; Parent Attitudes; Public Opinion; *School Choice; Special Needs Students; State Legislation

ED475872 UD035572
Title: This Works: Improving Urban Education. Civic Bulletin.
Author(s) Greene, Jay P.
Author Affiliation: Manhattan Inst., New York, NY. Center for Civic Innovation.(BBB36210)
Pages: 11
Publication Date: March 2003
Sponsoring Agency: Fannie Mae Foundation, Washington, DC. (BBB34298)
Report No: No-34
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Availability: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Tel: 212-599-7000; Fax: 212-599-3494; e-mail:; Web site:
Language: English
Document Type: Opinion papers (120)
Geographic Source: U.S.; New York
Journal Announcement: RIEDEC2003

This bulletin discusses approaches that reformers are using nationwide to bring about improvement in urban schools. It focuses on (1) embracing more choices (school vouchers, charter schools, private management, public school transfers, home schooling, enrolling high school students in community colleges, and virtual education); (2) holding schools and students accountable and insisting on results (using regular testing, eliminating social promotion, adopting proven school designs, reforming special education, instituting year-round schooling, expanding preschool education, and improving the teacher certification process); and (3) staying the course (working with an alliance of businesses, community leaders, and reform politicians dedicated to choice and accountability reforms in order to ensure success). (SM)

Descriptors: Academic Standards; Accountability; Charter Schools; Computer Uses in Education; *Educational Improvement; Educational Vouchers; Elementary Secondary
Education; Grade Repetition; Home Schooling; Preschool Education; Privatization; *School Choice; Social Promotion; Special Education; Student Evaluation; Teacher Certification; Transfer Students; *Urban Education; Year Round Schools

ED463928 RC023462
Title: Academic, Socioeconomic and Transportation Correlates in a Rural Public School Voucher System.
Author(s) Mathis, William J.; Etzler, Deborah
Pages: 26
Publication Date: March 2002
Notes: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Education Finance Association (Albuquerque, NM, March 2002). Research conducted by Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union and supported by Rutland Regional Choice Collaborative, Rural School and Community Trust, and Vermont Society for the Study of Education.
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Evaluative (142); Speeches/meeting papers (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Vermont
Journal Announcement: RIEOCT2002

In the 1997-98 school year, the town school boards of rural Rutland County, Vermont, established a regional school choice collaborative. Key program features were limits on the number of choice students from each school; no exchange of money between school boards; a lottery to determine admission at schools with excess applicants; parent/student responsibility for student transportation; and provisions related to special education, athletics, and disciplinary issues. In view of current efforts in the Vermont legislature toward expanding school choice, this paper reports on the first 4 years of the Rutland program. Surveys were completed by 60 of the 63 school-choice students, who comprised about 2 percent of eligible students. About three quarters of respondents transferred from smaller to larger schools, and two thirds moved toward a school in the region's center. No competitive improvement effects were found for either the schools or the students in the program. The relationship between school quality (test scores) and popularity of choice was weak. Student reasons for transferring were about evenly distributed among attraction to new school, dislike of old school, and social factors. Almost all students were satisfied with the change, but their average grades (low B or high C) were unchanged. Students tended to choose schools in areas of higher income. Other than satisfaction, the program produced no benefits and, if the money followed the child, would threaten the existence of several small high schools. (Contains 16 endnotes and the student questionnaire.) (SV)

Descriptors: Academic Achievement; *High Schools; Institutional Survival; *Rural Schools; Satisfaction; *School Choice; School Size; Socioeconomic Influences; *Student Attitudes; Student Surveys; Student Transportation

EJ645078 EC629834
Title: Children with Special Needs and School Choice: Five Stories.
Author(s) Harris, Sandra
Source: Preventing School Failure, v46 n2 p75-78 Win 2002
Publication Date: 2002
ISSN: 1045-988X
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Evaluative (142)
Journal Announcement: CIJSEP2002

This article presents case studies of five students who had experienced school failure and chose to attend either of two public charter schools in Texas. In all cases, small school and class size appeared to be the critical factors in the creation of small, caring, learning communities that promoted changing attitudes and negative school experiences into positive ones. (Contains references.) (DB)

Descriptors: *At Risk Persons; Case Studies; *Charter Schools; *Class Size; Decision Making; Educational Environment; Elementary Secondary Education; *School Choice; *School Size; Student Placement

ED472999 EA032334
Title: Public Voucher Plans. Trends and Issues.
Author(s) Hadderman, Margaret
Author Affiliation: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, Eugene, OR.(SJJ69850)
Pages: 25
Publication Date: 2002
Notes: In: School Choice. Trends and Issues; see EA 032 330.
Sponsoring Agency: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC. (EDD00036)
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Availability: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, 5207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-5207. Tel: 541-346-2332; Tel: 800-
438-8841 (Toll Free); Fax: 541-346-2334; Web site: For full text:
intersectional.html#pub licvouchers.
Language: English
Document Type: ERIC product (071); Reports--Descriptive (141)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Oregon
Journal Announcement: RIESEP2003

This document provides an overview of public-school voucher plans. Educational vouchers originated in the 1960s when Milton Friedman argued that vouchers would improve educational efficiency. Parents would receive the equivalent of per-pupil expenditures in the form of vouchers that could then be used at any school, either public and private. But the plan has met with resistance; public-opinion polls in 2001 revealed that 62 percent of respondents opposed allowing parents to choose a private school at public expense. In those cases where students attend private schools with public funds, 82 percent of the public believes that these private schools should be held as accountable as public schools. The report describes some of the legislative action and referenda that surround vouchers, along with constitutionality issues being played out in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Cleveland, Ohio; Florida; Maine; and Vermont. To further complicate the issue, studies of voucher systems give mixed results as to their effectiveness, and simply implementing these programs has been challenging. The document describes the effect of public vouchers on private schools, their impact on public schools, and their cost-effectiveness. The article closes with some recommendations and delivers some arguments for progressive voucher policies. (Contains 55 references.) (RJM)

Descriptors: Economics of Education; Educational Administration; *Educational Vouchers; Elementary Secondary Education; Nontraditional Education; Private School Aid; Program Effectiveness; School Choice

ED463587 EA031614
Title: What Do Parents Want from Schools? Evidence from the Internet. Occasional Paper.
Author(s) Schneider, Mark; Buckley, Jack
Author Affiliation: Columbia Univ., New York, NY. National Center for the Study of Privatization in
Pages: 28
Publication Date: March 2002
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA. (BBB32538)@Smith Richardson Foundation, Inc., Greensboro, NC. (BBB00987)
Contract No: SBR9811790
Report No: NCSPE-OP-21
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Availability: For full text:
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Research (143)
Geographic Source: U.S.; New York
Journal Announcement: RIEOCT2002

One of the most contentious policy areas in the United States today is the expansion of school choice. Although many dimensions of parental choice behavior have been analyzed, perhaps the most enduring questions center on the aspects of schools parents prefer and how these preferences will affect the socioeconomic and racial composition of schools. Using Internet-based methodological tools, parental preferences (revealed through information-search patterns) were studied and compared to the standard findings in the literature, which are based largely on telephone interviews. Based on this evidence, it is suggested that unfettered choice may lead to undesirable outcomes in the distribution of students, and it may also lead to reduced pressure on schools to improve academic performance. Stratification may increase if parents with higher levels of education are more likely to exercise choice than less-educated parents and more likely to engage in search activity to gather information about their options. The task facing advocates of choice is to design a system that can produce a socially acceptable tradeoff between a more efficient school system and one that mixes together children of different races and classes. (Contains 40 references, 2 tables, and 3 figures.) (RT)

Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education; Equal Education; Internet; *Parent Attitudes; Parent
Background; *Parents; *School Choice

ED462532 UD034848
Title: School Choice in New York City after Three Years: An Evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Program. Final Report.
Author(s) Mayer, Daniel P.; Peterson, Paul E.; Myers, David E.; Tuttle, Christina Clark; Howell, William G.
Author Affiliation: Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA. Kennedy School of Government.(BBB16920); Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA. Dept. of Government.(BBB34055); Mathematica Policy Research, Washington, DC.(BBB21084)
Pages: 130
Publication Date: February 19, 2002
Notes: Prepared as part of the Program on Education Policy and Governance, a joint program of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Center for American Political Studies, Harvard University. For the Interim Report after Two Years, see ED 446 193. Also supported by the Achelis, Bodman and Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundations.
Sponsoring Agency: Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL. (BBB06744)@Smith Richardson Foundation, Inc., Greensboro, NC. (BBB00987)@Donner (William H.) Foundation. (BBB01928)@John M. Olin Foundation, Inc., Alton, IL. (BBB15030)@David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Los Altos, CA. (BBB31498)@Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Milwaukee, WI. (BBB26857)
Report No: PEPG/02-01
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC06 Plus Postage.
Availability: For full text: PEPG%20full.rep%202.19.02.pdf.
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Research (143)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Massachusetts
Journal Announcement: RIEAUG2002

This report presents third-year findings from an evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Foundation Program. In 1997, this program provided scholarships via a lottery to low-income, New York City children in grades 1 through 4 that allowed them to transfer to private schools. The evaluation compared scholarship to control students, using test score, survey, and school-level data collected in the year 2000. On standardized tests, students offered scholarships performed similarly to control students. Those who ever attended private schools did not outperform those who never attended private schools. Patterns of impact for Hispanic students differed markedly from patterns for African American students in regard to test scores. Parents reported that schools and classes attended by scholarship students were smaller than those attended by public school students. Private schools were more orderly than public schools. Parents of children who switched to private schools were much more satisfied with their schools than parents of public school students. Among students offered scholarships, 53 percent used them to attend private schools for 3 full years. Parents who declined scholarships generally did so because they could not afford the added tuition and expenses. Five appendixes include research data and findings. (Contains 26 tables and 38 references.) (SM)

Descriptors: *Academic Achievement; Black Students; Educational Environment; *Educational Vouchers; Elementary Education; Hispanic American Students; Low Income Groups; Parent Attitudes; Private Schools; Program Effectiveness; Racial Differences; *Scholarships; *School Choice; Tables (Data); Urban Schools
Identifiers: African Americans; Latinos; New York (New York)

ED464972 UD034985
Title: How School Choice Helps the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Author(s) Gardner, John
Pages: 34
Publication Date: January 2002
Notes: Produced by the American Education Reform Council, Milwaukee, WI.
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Availability: For full text:
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Descriptive (141)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Wisconsin
Journal Announcement: RIENOV2002

Parents in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, have more tax-supported educational choices than parents in other cities. Most programs were enacted during the 1990s. Opponents believed these programs would harm the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), but 11 years of data show positive trends. MPS enrollment increased by 4,576 students since 1990. Real spending per pupil grew 24 percent. The state share of spending for MPS grew from 54 to 67 percent. Overall academic achievement remained unacceptably low in MPS. Nevertheless, MPS students made significant academic gains between 1997-2001, when the most rapid expansion of school choice occurred. On independent standardized exams, MPS students improved on 11 of 15 tests compared to a national sample. The percent of MPS students demonstrating proficiency on all 15 tests increased. The dropout rate declined. The learning gains coincided with and reflected systemwide changes within MPS. Expanded school choice prompted a positive response from many MPS schools (dollars follow students, so schools must recruit to strengthen their budgets, teachers are now often hired by school selection committees, and working with private and charter schools, MPS has expanded facilities in central city neighborhoods). The impact of these changes is particularly strong on low-income, minority children. (SM)

Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education; Enrollment Trends; Expenditure per Student; Low Income Groups; *Public Schools; *School Choice; Scores; Standardized Tests; State Aid; Student Evaluation; Urban Schools
Identifiers: *Milwaukee Public Schools WI

EJ644948 EA539558
Title: Education in America: School and Strategies That Work.
Author(s) Geiger, Philip E.
Source: School Business Affairs, v68 n4 p21-24 Apr 2002
Publication Date: 2002
ISSN: 0036-651X
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Descriptive (141)
Journal Announcement: CIJSEP2002

Discuss advantages and disadvantages of the privatization of public schools, including for-profit companies and charter schools. (PKP)

Descriptors: Charter Schools; *Educational Change; Elementary Secondary Education; Private Sector; *Privatization; Public Sector; School Choice
Identifiers: Profit Making Schools

EJ624308 CE537686
Title: Public Schooling, the Market Metaphor, and Parental Choice.
Author(s): Robenstine, Clark
Source: Educational Forum, v65 n3 p234-43 Spr 2001
Publication Date: 2001
ISSN: 0013-1725
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080)

Underlying the school choice debate is the market metaphor, which conceptualizes schooling with other goods and services in the economy. If parents are construed as consumers, the circumstances constraining their choices must be understood. Free-market school choice thus does not give parents of all classes genuine power to choose. (SK)

Descriptors: *Free Enterprise System; *Parent School Relationship; *Public Education; *School Choice; Social Class
Identifiers: Consumers

ED443906 UD033685
Title: Contributions of Parents' School Opinions and Reasons for Choice to Their Willingness To Support Catholic High Schools: A Structural Model.
Author(s): Bauch, Patricia A.; Gao, Hong
Pages: 33
Publication Date: April 2000
Notes: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 24-28, 2000).
Available from: EDRS Price MF01 Plus Postage. PC Not Available from EDRS.
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Research (143); Speeches/meeting papers (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Alabama

A study was conducted to determine the association among variables representing parent and school demographics, parents' opinions of the school, their reasons for choosing it, and their willingness to support the school in various ways, including the level of tuition they would pay. Data were collected from a stratified sample of 10 high schools in the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio. Most of the 1,843 parents who responded were white, with an average family income of $40,000. Structural equation modeling was used to test theoretical models assessing the relationships among the variables. Findings show that parents' choosing the schools for religious or values-related reasons predicts neither their financial support for the school nor their engagement in volunteer activities in them. Findings do suggest the importance of parent views of school quality and parent characteristics, of which family income was the greatest contributor to predicting school financial support. These results add to the body of financial research on Catholic schools by documenting a customer satisfaction relationship between the schools and their clients. Appendixes contain a correlation matrix, and the variables from the parent questionnaire. (Contains 4 tables, 2 figures, and 22 references.) (SLD)

Descriptors: *Catholic Schools; Demography; Educational Quality; *Financial Support; *High Schools; Parent Attitudes; Parent Participation; *Parents; Prediction; *School Choice; Structural Equation Models; Tuition
Identifiers: Ohio (Cleveland)

ED442204 EA030491
Title: The Effects of Parental Characteristics on School Choice.
Author(s): Hsieh, Chia-lin; Shen, Jianping
Pages: 8
Publication Date: April 2000
Notes: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, Louisiana, April 24-28, 2000).
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Research (143); Speeches/meeting papers (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Michigan

Based on a national data set, a study investigated the factors that influence parents' decision to choose schools for their children. The data for the study were extracted from the public-release data file from the School Safety and Discipline (SS&D) component of the 1993 National Household Education Survey. Parents with children in 3rd through 12th grades from the 50 States and the District of Columbia were interviewed. The total number of completed SS&D interviews was 12,680. From this data, parents' choices were grouped into the following categories: (1) assigned school (public school district assigns the neighborhood school to the residents); (2) chosen school (there are two situations in chosen school: first, parents choose the public school that is not located in their neighborhood; second, parents like the specific public school district so they live in this area in order for their children to attend this neighborhood school); (3) private school (parents choose to send their children to a private school where the parents have to pay tuition for their children.) Among 12,680 parents, 10,017 chose assigned school, 1,382 parents chose chosen school, and 1,281 parents chose private school. Parents' education level and family income do affect parents' position on school choice. White parents with higher education and income levels are more likely to choose private school, while black parents with higher education level and lower family income are more likely to exercise their choice within the public school system. Parents who look for quality indicators such as small school size, homogeneous ethnicity, and safer schools have the propensity to choose private schools. Parents who look for quality factors such as proximity, median school size, and safe schools have the tendency to choose assigned schools. (Contains 19 references.) (MLF)

Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education; *Family Characteristics; Family Income; *Institutional Characteristics; National Surveys; *Parent Background; Parent Education; Private Schools; Public Schools; Racial Factors; *School Choice; Tables (Data)

EJ610802 UD522405
Title: Parent Involvement, Influence, and Satisfaction in Magnet Schools: Do Reasons for Choice Matter?
Author(s): Hausman, Charles; Goldring, Ellen
Source: Urban Review, v32 n2 p105-21 Jun 2000
Publication Date: 2000
ISSN: 0042-0972
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143)

Investigated relationships between urban parents' reasons for choosing magnet schools and their levels of satisfaction, involvement, and influence at school. Parents chose schools for many reasons and were highly satisfied with their choices. Parents reasons for choice are important predictors of their level of satisfaction, influence, and involvement. Parents who chose for value reasons were most likely to be involved in and satisfied with their schools. (SM)

Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education; *Magnet Schools; *Parent Attitudes; *Parent Influence; *Parent Participation; Parents; *School Choice; *Urban Schools

ED445163 UD033763
Title: The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts: Case Studies of How School Districts in Michigan's Largest County Are Responding to Competition from Charter Schools and Public "Schools-of-Choice."
Author(s): Ladner, Matthew; Brouillette, Matthew J.
Author Affiliation: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Midland, MI. (BBB36194)
Pages: 36
Publication Date: 2000
Report No: MCPP-52000-04
ISBN: 1-890624-22-5
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Availability: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 140 W. Main Street, P.O. Box 568, Midland, MI 48640 ($5). Tel: 517-631-0900; Web site:
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Evaluative (142)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Michigan

This study sought to determine whether increased competition among Michigan public schools, resulting from charter schools and the state's "schools-of-choice" program, has improved educational opportunities for children and whether competition encourages or discourages schools to respond to the needs and demands of students and parents. The research relies on information from the Wayne County Regional Service Agency, which contains 34 urban and suburban school districts, and data from state-generated publications. Anecdotal data were gathered through interviews with district superintendents and charter school principals. The evidence suggests that those who seek to improve education for Michigan children should embrace competition among schools rather than fear it. Competition has provided a powerful incentive for improvement while expanding the ability of parents to choose the school that best meets the needs of their children. There is very little evidence to suggest that competition has harmed the cause of better education in Michigan, and there is clear evidence that school choice and competition put pressure on low-performing school districts to improve. Recommendations are made for expanding parental choice in education. Appendixes contain a chart of student enrollment in Wayne County and a description of theme schools and academies in Dearborn, Michigan. (Contains 42 footnotes.) (SLD)

Descriptors: Case Studies; *Charter Schools; *Competition; *Educational Improvement; Elementary Secondary Education; Public Schools; *School Choice
Identifiers: *Michigan

EJ599849 JC508865
Title: How Choice Changes the Education System: A Michigan Case Study.
Author(s): Plank, David N.; Sykes, Gary
Source: International Review of Education/Internationale Zeitschrift fuer Erziehungswissenschaft/Revue Internationale de l'Education, v45 n5-6 p385-416 Nov 1999
Publication Date: 1999
ISSN: 0020-8566
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Evaluative (142)

Presents preliminary observations on how allowing some parents in Michigan to choose which schools their children attend affects the educational system. Asserts that the current enthusiasm for educational choice is an example of a broader effort to shift the responsibility for addressing deeply-rooted social and economic problems out of the public sphere. Contains 50 references. (VWC)

Descriptors: Case Studies; *Educational Opportunities; *Educational Quality; Elementary Secondary Education; *Parent Attitudes; *Parent School Relationship; *Politics of Education; *School Choice

EJ597101 EA536593
Title: Reasons for Parental Choice of Urban Schools.
Author(s): Goldring, E. B.; Hausman, C. S.
Source: Journal of Education Policy, v14 n5 p469-90 Sep-Oct 1999
Publication Date: 1999
ISSN: 0268-0939
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143)

Explores differences in race, socioeconomic status, and reasons for choice among parents in an urban school district with a controlled-choice plan. Parental background characteristics, parents' reasons for choosing a school, satisfaction with public schools, and geographical distance differentiate among parents choosing magnets, those choosing nonmagnets, and nonchoosers. (Contains 43 references.) (MLH)

Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education; Magnet Schools; *Parent Background; Public Schools; *Racial Differences; Satisfaction; *School Choice; School Desegregation; *Socioeconomic Status; *Urban Schools
Identifiers: *Saint Louis City School District MO

ED431533 PS027689
Title: Going to School: How To Help Your Child Succeed. A Handbook for Parents of Children Ages 3-8. Goddard Parenting Guides.
Author(s): Ramey, Sharon L.; Ramey, Craig T.
Pages: 278
Publication Date: 1999
ISBN: 0-9666397-3-1
Available from: Document Not Available from EDRS.
Availability: Goddard Press, 380 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017 ($19.95): Tel: 212-294-8555; Fax: 212-294-8590
Language: English
Document Type: Book (010); Guides--Non-classroom (055)
Geographic Source: U.S.; New York
Target Audience: Parents

The world of school has changed dramatically in the last two generations, for many reasons, including cultural and linguistic diversity; great changes in family lifestyles; wide disparities in funding for schools; the prevalence of preschool education; and new educational practices for children with disabilities. Noting that the requirements of preparation for schooling go beyond helping a child adjust to a new set of rules and expectations, this handbook serves as a guide, up-to-date reference, and source of ideas and encouragement for parents of preschool- and primary school-age children. Each of the twelve chapters provides resources, activities, and a large body of information culled from scientific studies, theory, and practical experience. The chapters are: (1) "Why School is So Different Today"; (2) "How Children Learn (and How Parents Can Help)"; (3) "Ten Hallmarks of Children Who Succeed in School"; (4) "Parent Involvement in Children's Education"; (5) "Family Life and Academic Success"; (6) "How to Prepare for 'Big School'"; (7) "Choosing Your Child's School"; (8) "Educational Approaches"; (9) "The Academic Side of School"; (10) "The Language Arts"; (11) "The Social Side of School"; and (12) "Your Unique Child." A list of additional references is included. (JS)

Descriptors: *Academic Achievement; Early Childhood Education; Educational Change; Educational Environment; Educational Theories; *Family Influence; Interpersonal Competence; *Parent Influence; Parent Materials; *Parent Participation; *Parent Role; Parent Student Relationship; Parent Teacher Cooperation; Primary Education; *Student Adjustment; Teacher Expectations of Students; Young Children

ED424653 EA029419
Title: Participation as Parental Choice: Can the Marketplace Create More Democratic Institutions?
Author(s): Parker, Laurence; Margonis, Frank
Pages: 28
Publication Date: April 1998
Notes: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Diego, CA, April 13-17, 1998).
Available from: EDRS Price MF01 Plus Postage. PC Not Available from EDRS.
Language: English
Document Type: Information Analysis (070); Speeches/meeting papers (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Illinois

Recent evidence suggests that low-income, inner-city parents favor school choice. African-American and Latino parents' preferences regarding choice were analyzed. Inner-city parents' school choices occur within a context constrained by Anglo and middle-class strategies of containment. The paper examines minority dissatisfaction with the public schools and the push for private school choice and details the environment in which these parents must choose a school and the factors that shaped this context, such as suburban parents' ability to spend more than what city parents can spend per pupil. Innercity parents' concerns over their children's schools arose from criticism of the local public school and long-term social and economic trends of the city. Choice proposals, segregationist strategies, and community schools are discussed, including the notion that Anglo-choice advocates' hope that choice will preempt increased expenditures on urban schools--preventing a redistribution of tax monies from suburbs to the inner city. The paper concludes that racial conflict over educational policy means that many minority students will not be placed in neighborhood schools of choice, leaving the vast majority of urban students in underfunded public schools. (Contains 40 references.) (RJM)

Descriptors: Anglo Americans; Blacks; *Educational Equity (Finance); Educational Vouchers; Elementary Secondary Education; Hispanic Americans; Inner City; *Low Income Groups; *Participant Satisfaction; Participation; Private Schools; Public Schools; *School Choice; *Urban Schools
Identifiers: African Americans; Latinos

EJ594092 SO531642
Title: "Making Their Minds Up": Family Dynamics of School Choice.
Author(s): Reay, Diane; Ball, Stephen J.
Source: British Educational Research Journal, v24 n4 p431-48 Sep 1998
Publication Date: 1998
ISSN: 0141-1926
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143)

Examines the family dynamics embedded in school choice through further analysis and recording of 137 interviews with parents choosing a secondary school for their children. Concludes that, behind a veneer of democratic decision making, it was parents, and predominantly mothers, who were making children's minds up. (CMK)

Descriptors: *Decision Making; Interviews; *Mothers; *Parent Attitudes; *Parent Child Relationship; *Parent Role; *School Choice; Secondary Schools
Identifiers: *Family Dynamics

ED411992 PS025846
Title: The Parents' Guide to Alternatives in Education.
Author(s): Koetzsch, Ronald E.
Pages: 244
Publication Date: 1997
ISBN: 1-57062-067-9
Available from: Document Not Available from EDRS.
Availability: Shambhala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115; Web site: (U.S., $17; Canada, $23.50).
Language: English
Document Type: Book (010); Guides--Non-classroom (055)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Massachusetts
Target Audience: Parents

Recognizing that parents have a great range of options in choosing and creating an education for their child, this book is designed to help parents make an informed, conscious choice about their child's schooling. Chapters in the first part of the guide provide an overview of American education, the mainstream public sector and alternative education movements. Chapter 1 looks at the origin and early development of the American public school system. Chapter 2 treats the humanistic-progressive movement, while chapter 3 describes the religious-traditionalist movement. Chapter 4 discusses the range of education alternatives available in the current system. Chapters in the second section deal with six important movements in present-day education: (1) whole language; (2) cooperative learning; (3) the social curriculum; (4) multicultural education; (5) developmental education; and (6) education for character. The third part of the guide looks at 22 types of programs and schools that provide viable alternatives to mainstream public education: Carden Schools, Christian Schools, Comer Schools, Core Knowledge Schools, Essential Schools, Foxfire, Free Schools, Friends Schools, Holistic Schools, International Baccalaureate, Islamic Schools, Jewish Day Schools, Mennonite and Amish Schools, Montessori Schools, Multiple Intelligences, Education, Progressive Schools, Protestant Schools, Reggio Emilia Approach, Catholic Schools, Waldorf Education, and Teenage Liberation. Each chapter presents the approach's history, philosophy and principles; describes practical strategies of the educational approach; describes one or two actual schools using that particular approach; and lists resources and a bibliography. The guide's final section offers practical advice in choosing a school and on creating a school of one's own. Contains 41 references. (Author/KB)

Descriptors: Cooperative Learning; Educational History; Educational Trends; *Elementary Secondary Education; Home Schooling; Multicultural Education; Multiple Intelligences; *Nontraditional Education; *Parents; *Parochial Schools; *Private Schools; Progressive Education; Public Education; Religious Education; School Choice; Whole Language Approach
Identifiers: Developmentally Appropriate Programs; Historical Background; Holistic Education; Reggio Emilia Approach; Waldorf Schools

ED405706 EC305426
Title: Questions for Your Child's School: A Guide for Parents Who Value Learning.
Author(s): Sykes, Charles J.; Durden, William G.
Author Affiliation: Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD. Inst. for the Academic Advancement of Youth. (BBB34215)
Pages: 19
Publication Date: July 1996
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Guides--Non-classroom (055)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Maryland
Target Audience: Parents

This booklet provides a list of questions parents should entertain in assessing and choosing a school for their child. The questions apply to schools in both the public and private system and span the full range of kindergarten through twelfth-grade institutions. They are meant to assist parents in evaluating whether the school is providing a demanding education that emphasizes traditional academic subject areas. The questions address the mission statement and goals of the school, the intellectual life of the school (including how the school deals with students with learning disabilities and gifted students), the ethical life of the school, the preparation and attitudes of the administration and faculty, student assessment, the school's approach to parents, the use of technology, and the costs of education and extracurricular activities. Many questions are followed with comments that point out important related concerns. (CR)

Descriptors: *Disabilities; Educational Environment; Elementary Secondary Education; *Evaluation Criteria; *Gifted; *Institutional Characteristics; *Parent Participation; Parent School Relationship; *School Choice; School Culture; School Effectiveness

EJ462467 EA528050
Title: Advice to the Parent of a Black Child.
Author(s): Pigford, Aretha B.
Source: Educational Leadership, v50 n8 p66-68 May 1993
Publication Date: 1993
ISSN: 0013-1784
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Opinion papers (120)
Target Audience: Parents

Good schools help children recognize their worth as individual human beings. Schools' most important responsibility is to affirm children. African-American and other parents are advised to experience the school before choosing it. Is diversity celebrated? Are friendliness and racial diversity present among professional staff? Do African-American and white children socialize voluntarily in cafeteria? Test scores are not the sole criterion. (MLH)

Descriptors: *Blacks; Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education; *Parent School Relationship; *Racial Integration; *School Choice; *School Visitation; *Student Needs

ED330120 EA022895
Title: Clarifying Issues of Educational Choice for the Parent.
Author(s): McDowelle, James O.; Wilson, Harold E.
Pages: 18
Publication Date: March 1991
Notes: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of School Administrators (New Orleans, LA, March 1-4, 1991).
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Descriptive (141); Speeches/meeting papers (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; North Carolina
Target Audience: Administrators; Practitioners

Parents observing the national debate about educational choice may believe that choice possesses characteristics that are both positive and negative at the same time. The definition of choice should stem from the amount of choice provided. Unrestricted choice allows parents to choose any school in the state. Restricted choice has limitations such as admissions requirements imposed on parental decisions. Intervention in the choice process to achieve noninstructional objectives is bureaucratic control. Economic control can result from factors like the cost and ease of transportation. The assumption that public education will be improved through increased competition rests on parental involvement. To date, no indepth studies of the parent decision-making processes relative to choosing a school have been made. While such research may be inconvenient, information obtained will be of great value to those administrating choice programs. (EJS)

Descriptors: Change Strategies; Educational Improvement; Elementary Secondary Education; Parent Influence; *Parent Participation; Parent School Relationship; *School Choice; *School Restructuring

ED302872 EA020256
Title: Choosing a School for Your Child.
Author(s): Weston, Susan Perkins
Author Affiliation: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.(EDD00036)
Pages: 44
Publication Date: May 1989
Notes: Foreword by Lauro Cavazos, Secretary of Education.
Report No: PIP-89-833
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Availability: Consumer Information Center, Dept. 597V, Pueblo, CO 81009 (free).
Language: English
Document Type: Guides--Non-classroom (055); Opinion papers (120)
Geographic Source: U.S.; District of Columbia
Target Audience: Parents

This book offers step-by-step advice for parents on how to choose among available schools for their children. It identifies factors to consider in making the choice, and it offers information on options for parents who do not like any of the available schools, including teaching children at home and working to create new options. After an introductory discussion of why parents should choose their child's school, an overview is provided of the kinds of schools available: neighborhood public schools, public "schools of choice" (magnet schools), other public schools, and parochial or private schools. The middle section of the paper provides advice on each of four steps in choosing a school: (1) thinking about the child in relation to the family and community; (2) collecting information on available schools; (3) visiting a school; and (4) gaining admission for a child into a selected private or public school. Subsequent chapters address when to think about changing schools again and what to do if there are no good schools. The latter options include home schooling, early college for a teenager, and working to change the system. Appended is a checklist for investigating and evaluating schools, along with a set of references and additional sources of information. (TE)

Descriptors: *Decision Making; Elementary Secondary Education; Home Schooling; Magnet Schools; *Nontraditional Education; Parent Aspiration; *Parent Participation; *Parent School Relationship; Parochial Schools; Politics of Education; Private Education; *School Choice