Market Signals: How Do DC Parents Rank Schools, and What Does It Mean for Policy?
The Walton Family Foundation
This brief describes (1) what parents look for when they choose a school and (2) how these preferences affect the sorting of students into schools under different school-choice policies. The findings are based on lists of preferred schools submitted by over 20,000 applicants to a citywide lottery for more than 100 traditional and charter public schools in Washington, DC. The results confirm previous findings that commuting distance, school demographics, and academics play important roles in school choice. However, we also found considerable variation in parents’ preferences.