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Citation:Neild, R. C. (2005). Parent management of school choice in a large urban district. Urban Education, 40(3), 270-297.

The purpose of this study is to examine parental management of school choice and to investigate how these decisions are made. This article examines how low-income parents in a large urban district with a long-standing pre-NCLB choice program at the high school level negotiated the process of gathering information and applying to schools. Results indicated that all parents were involved in the decision at a basic level and felt that where their children attended high school was important to their children's educational career. Many parents felt that they were lacking quality information about the schools available, and most relied on information from friends, relatives, and guidance counselors at their children's current school. The parents who participated in this study reported that they did not know how many applicants would be accepted into a school, nor did they know anything about their children's chance for admission. These data were collected from semistructured interviews of 19 parents who had children completing the eighth grade at one of two schools serving low-income families. Participants were recruited through letters distributed to students. These results indicate that parents want the option to make educational choices for their children and desire more quality information about the process. This study is limited by its small sample size and singular geographic location. Future studies, including randomized controlled trials, should test the robustness of these findings with a larger sample comprising participants from varied geographic locations.

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