How Do Parents Really Choose Their Children's Schools?

Parents want what's best for their children—they want to provide them with the best chance for success and the best opportunities, which means picking the right school is a priority.

However, a new study published by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans suggests that parents don't always choose schools solely based on academic prestige. Research found that "parents, especially low-income parents, actually show strong preferences for other qualities like location and extracurriculars," according to NPR.

The majority of New Orleans children attend charter schools—9 out of 10—which leaves more room for choice than areas where public schools are most popular. Researchers established a few key findings when they analyzed the schools parents actually picked: distance from home, extracurriculars (especially for high schoolers), and available before- or after-school programs. These three factors were especially important for low-income families. Parents still cared about academics—but not as much as they said when interviewed about the topic.

While this study only reflects the choices of New Orleans parents, it's likely that parents in other areas of the country make very similar decisions. Further research by the Education Research Alliance is in the works to establish if the same trends occur in other cities.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Parents play a big role in their children's success at school. Help your kids do their best with these pointers from teachers.

Image: Children getting on school bus via Shutterstock

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