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New Report Looks At How Families Choose Schools


In New Orleans, 9 out of ten students go to charter schools. How do they, and their families, choose those schools? A new report out today finds that families weigh many factors. Practical concerns may count as much as, or even more than, a school’s academic standing.

The report comes from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans. It differs from previous research, which relied mostly on parent interviews and surveys. Instead, this report looks at school application forms and enrollment records.

The study finds a school's letter grade — an academic ranking based mostly on test scores — matters. But distance, extracurricular activities, and extended hours matter too. And in some cases, slightly more.

According to the study, a family might prefer a C-rated school located directly across the street, with a free-after care program, to a B-rated school located a mile away and without after-care options.

Aesha Rasheed is editor of the New Orleans Parents’ Guide to Public School Schools. She says the findings aren't surprising.

"When we talk to parents about what they want to know," Rasheed says. "Yes, they want to know is my child gonna be prepared for the next phase of their education, whether that's on to high school or on to college. And that's reflected in test scores, to a degree. It's a predictor of that possible success. But they also want to know what kinds of experience will my child have."

Rasheed hopes the report might shift thinking about how to measure and value schools.

"Schools are organisms that serve a role beyond prepping children for tests," she says. "I think educators know that. I think school leaders know that. I think that families and parents know that on some level. But the way we're evaluating schools doesn't really have a formal way to take that into account."

Support for education reporting on WWNO comes from Baptist Community Ministries and Entergy Corporation.

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