Parental Multi-Meanings of School Choice: A Narrative, Phenomenological Case Study
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The purpose of this narrative, phenomenological, case study was to develop a thick, rich description of the deeper meanings of school choice for parents at a Midwestern, midsize suburban public middle school. Parental school choice was defined as the untold, multifaceted understanding of values, beliefs, and the underlying personal preference regarding schools to discover meaning. The traditions of narratology, phenomenology, and case study were utilized to capture the voices of parents to understand the meaning of the phenomenon. The goal of this research was to share this information with school district leaders as it could, (a) help identify why parents are making school choice decisions, (b) identify resources parents utilized to make choice decisions, and (c) to understand the attributes parents were looking for in a school and why they specifically chose this particular district/school. In knowing this information school district leaders could use this knowledge to market their district and use the data to inform policy and practices. For the survey and narratives, data were analyzed using the process of a generic coding process that constituted identifying themes and subthemes. Transcendental phenomenology and cross-case analysis were used to analyze interviews. Findings from the surveys, narratives, and interviews themes suggested that the districts will want to gather their own data on what choice means, keep a focus on continuous student achievement, disseminate current school information to the public, and in particular develop positive partnerships with real estate agents to ensure new parents are provided accurate information about the school district. These findings revealed a real need for educational leaders to manage district growth and keep a small town feel, while maintaining low teacher-student ratios. The need to keep district and building-level websites current with data parents were looking for, as well as for districts to consider inter-district and intra-district student transfer opportunities also came to light. The experiences of the participants were from a privileged background, but equity for all students is something for which we continue to strive.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Literature review -- Research and design methodology -- Results: the story behind the data -- Implications and recommendations -- Appendix A. Consent to participate in a resaerch study -- Appendix B. Participant survey -- Appendix C. Narrative prompt -- Appendix D. Semi-structured, open-ended interview guide -- Appendix E. Consent form for narratives and interviews