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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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