Families’ Experiences on the New Frontier of Educational Choice
By Drew Catt, Albert Cheng
Arizona has one of the most robust, diverse school choice environments in the nation, featuring charter schools, a tax-credit scholarship (TCS) program and education savings accounts (ESAs). In this report, authors Drew Catt and Albert Cheng survey approximately 3,500 parents across all sectors to learn more about their school climate, satisfaction, levels of parental involvement, schooling preferences and trusted sources for educational decisions.
ADDITIONAL REPORT INFORMATION
In this report, you will learn:
Arizona families are more satisfied with charter schools than any other schooling type in the state.Eighty-two percent of charter school parents reported being “somewhat or completely satisfied” with their child’s school—almost 10 points higher than parents in traditional public schools or private school parents who are not part of an educational choice program. Charter schools also received the highest ratings on four out of five measures of school climate.
When choosing a school, Arizona parents care far more about academics and school safety than state-assigned school grades.Families also rank morals, character and values instruction among the top three most influential factors when choosing a school. Parents in traditional public schools value proximity to their home and/or work; those participating in Arizona’s private school choice programs value the religious instruction and environment of their school.
Parents in choice programs or schools report considerable changes in their behavior after switching to a new type of school.Choice appears to affect family routines: Parents using either Arizona’s TCS or ESA programs reported much higher levels of reading or doing math with their children than they did in their prior learning environment. More than 60 percent of TCS and ESA families reported feeling more in charge of their child’s education as a result of school choice.
Parents enrolling their children in different types of schools hold contrasting views about the purposes of K-12 education.At least 80 percent of families with students in traditional public schools or charter schools believe preparation for future employment and economic productivity are “very” or “extremely” important purposes of education—nearly 20 points higher than TCS or ESA parents, who value instilling religious virtues or moral character.