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Citation:Saporito, S., & Lareau, A. (1999). School selection as a process: The multiple dimensions of race in framing educational choice. Social Problems, 46(3), 418-439.

This study looked at the factors that shape student and parentsÕ selections of particular schools. The study seeks to inform those who "claim that public choice programs will foster racial integration"; it attempts to debunk the "assumption that the process by which applicants come to prefer schools is the same for different racial groups." They found that measures of academic quality and school safety do not account for the relationship between application patterns and race and/or class composition of schools that families attempt to leave. Rather, the racial motivations of families shape selection for whites, but not for blacks. White families first eliminate "black" schools from consideration, regardless of the income level or number of affluent white students attending the school. Black parents show no similar sensitivity to race. Authors focused on "8th grade applicants applying to public high schools through a choice program in a NE urban school district." They looked for patterns in the way families select schools by quantitative analyses of choices made by the applicant pool and by in-depth interviews with families applying to one or more of the district's transfer programs. They carried out statistical analysis to understand how student preferences varied by school characteristics. The academic quality and climate of high schools was examined through a number of independent variables including combined math and verbal SAT scores; also considered were school staffing, school size, student-teacher ratio, school poverty rates, and the importance of school-community violence. This study can inform people looking at the dynamics of magnet schools and other special programs that seek yet are not achieving diversity in their student population. The study sampled students applying to neighborhood schools, not schools with specialized curricula such as magnet schools, so application of the findings to those situations may not be possible.

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