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School Choice: A study of the factors that motivated parents to select the No Child Left Behind School Choice Provision Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationSchool Choice: A Study of the Factors That Motivate Parents to Select the No Child Left Behind School Choice Provision When signed into law in 2001, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation ushered in broad policy affecting the federal government's engagement with local governments on education oversight and monitoring. One provision of NCLB offered parents added control over their child's education and gave them the right to leave their Title I school--when the school received the label "in need of improvement"--for another school within the district. This study focused specifically on NCLB school choice and examined parents' decisions to opt for or against school choice. More specifically, this inquiry explored the factors that motivated parents to opt for school choice and the benefits that parents hoped to gain for themselves and their children by either staying in their home school or opting for a school of choice. Three research questions guided this study and helped the researcher to examine parental perceptions through a social capital lens: 1. What were the characteristics of the parents who opted for NCLB school choice compared with the parents who opted to remain in their home school? 2. From the parents' perspective, what factors led to parents' decisions about selecting their home school or selecting school choice? 3. What characteristics of the school that parents choose to attend made the school a better choice for their child?The researcher utilized a mixed methods methodology to facilitate the collection of data that included the distinct voices of the parents who accessed NCLB school choice. The use of both surveys and interviews helped the researcher to gain a better understanding of the parents' thought processes as they made their choices. Major findings from the research indicated that parents who chose to use their school choice option focused on the students' learning environment when making their decision. Parents who decided to stay in their home school focused more on their children's well-being and their own connections to the school staff. Additionally, findings indicated that parents who opted for school choice tended to have higher incomes and were better educated. Hispanic parents were more inclined to stay in their home school, while White parents were more likely to move out of their home school. This study provides information that policy makers should consider as they examine the option of choice for educational settings and seek to ensure that choice does not detrimentally affect students in a wide variety of school environments.

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