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How Do Parents Engage in School-Choice Decisions? Open Access

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This qualitative study explored how parents make school-choice decisions. I conducted a basic interpretive qualitative study to collect and analyze data. I used criterion purposeful sampling to determine participants who met the criteria for this study: (a) parents who currently had students at schools of choice, and (b) parents who were entering the educational marketplace for the first time. The study used participant interviews as the primary source of data collection to develop a deeper understanding of parents’ experiences and decision making regarding school choice.The following research questions guided the research: How do parents from a diverse Mid-Atlantic urban–suburban county make school-choice decisions for their children? What factors do parents consider when choosing a school for their children? How do parents gather information about the schools available to their children? How do parents choose the school that best fits their preferences? The experiences of the parents unfolded through a semistructured interview protocol that used open-ended questions. Several themes emerged during the interview process: expectations, access, experiences, responsibility, and decision making. I coded and analyzed the experiences shared by the parents. The data collected indicate that parents factor in many reasons and characteristics when making school-choice decisions for their children, reasons spread along continuums of academics, personal convenience, and personality and characteristics of the child. I pieced together the common themes of each individual experience like pieces of a puzzle to paint a picture that had never been shared.

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