Why Parents Choose
By Drew Catt, Evan Rhinesmith
In Why Parents Choose, more than 2,000 private school parents—including 1,185 parents with children in the state’s voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs—answered questions about how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with their former schools vs. their current schools of choice, why they chose their children’s private schools, changes in their levels of school involvement and more. This is a more robust follow-up survey to our 2014 publication, Why Indiana Voucher Parents Choose Private Schools.
ADDITIONAL REPORT INFORMATION
In this report, you will learn:
The majority of choice parents said it was easy to find the right private schools for their kids, and they chose those schools for a variety of reasons.Seventy-two percent of parents reported that finding a suitable private school that participates in the voucher or tax-credit scholarship programs was very easy, and 11 percent said it was somewhat easy. Furthermore, survey participants were asked to choose the most important quality that led them to choose their current private school. The most common responses were religious environment and instruction and a better academic environment. Parents also highly value a school’s morals, values and character instruction, and many took smaller class sizes, safer environment and more individual instruction into account.
The data debunks claims that voucher parents would have chosen private schools even without vouchers.Of the parents who responded to both the 2013 and 2016 surveys, 16 percent no longer have children in private school choice programs. Though Indiana’s private school choice programs have a high retention rate (84 percent), more than half of the students who did decide to leave those programs chose public school options, including neighborhood public schools and public charter schools. Less than half persisted in private schools without the programs. This contradicts the Indiana Department of Education’s assertion that voucher students would have enrolled in private schools regardless of the program—the implication being vouchers are just helping would-be private schoolers subsidize private tuition. In reality, these and other data support that Indiana school choice programs are facilitating parent choices across sectors.
Parents report more community and school engagement at their current private schools.The majority of private school parents are more involved in variety of activities since enrolling their children in their current school compared to their previous school: communicating with teachers (69 percent), participating in school activities (67 percent), volunteering/community service (61 percent), and working on math or arithmetic with their child (56 percent). Voucher parents were significantly more likely to say they now participate more in volunteering and community service activities compared to tax-credit scholarship parents.
School choice parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with their children’s schools.School choice parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with their children’s current private schools. Though only 53 percent of parents were somewhat or very satisfied with their previous schools, 81 percent are very satisfied and 12 percent are somewhat satisfied with their current choice schools. These findings indicate Indiana’s school choice programs accomplish the goal of better matching students with schools that fit their needs.