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Going to Great Lengths: How Parents Chose Schools Before and After the Post-Katrina School Reforms

Douglas N. Harris (Co-authors: Matthew Larsen and Jill Zimmerman)

Date & Time
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
12:00–1:00 pm
Tulane Medical School Building
1555 Poydras St.
New Orleans LA
Across from the Superdome Map and directions

One of the key elements of the New Orleans school model is it provides almost completely open enrollment, giving parents more options and possibly increasing competition among schools. Using data from 2004 and 2011, the Era team explores how scaled-up choice has affected parents’ school choices as well as the factors that seem to drive these decisions.

The results suggest that parents are active choosers with less than 20 percent now attending the nearest school and the average distance to school attended increased by 1.4 linear miles. However, distance to school still constrains parents’ ability to select schools that match their preferences especially among low-income families and those whose children are in elementary grades. In addition to distance, the School Performance Score (SPS) and the availability of specific program options (e.g., after-care in elementary grades and band and football in secondary schools) are also important in both elementary and secondary grades. The paper also provides results for the choice between public and private schools and for parental choice pre-Katrina. Doug Harris, director of Education Research Alliance (Era), will present these findings at the inaugural brown bag.

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