How Do Parents Evaluate and Select Schools? Evidence From a Survey Experiment

How Do Parents Evaluate and Select Schools? Evidence From a Survey Experiment

Published: Sep 18, 2021
Publisher: American Educational Research Journal (online ahead of print)
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Shira Haderlein

As parents are increasingly given flexibility to enroll their children in a school of their choice, understanding parents’ preferences for school qualities is essential. Using a randomized survey experiment, this study adds to the existing literature by assessing parents’ preferences in a controlled environment, where they can be isolated from information asymmetries and constraints. Results suggest that achievement matters to parents but status matters more when evaluating quality and growth matters more when choosing between schools. Additionally, student demographics affect both parents’ perception of school quality and their likelihood of selecting into a school. This article has important implications for the theory and practice of accountability as it offers new insights on parents’ latent preferences for school qualities.

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