Demystifying the process : the selection of receiving schools in intra-district performance-based school choice
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Although intra-district performance-based school choice as featured in NCLB and state laws has existed for over a decade, scant attention has been devoted to the study of how the policies and programs are operated by school districts. Policymakers and education practitioners have adopted performance-based school choice to address school achievement disparities, yet it is currently unclear if federal and state mandated choice programs are being managed with fidelity to the egalitarian design of the policy. Few researchers have examined whether these policies achieve their specified goals of increasing access to high performing schools for students residentially assigned to underperforming locations. This study utilizes a qualitative comparative case study design that contrasts school choice implementation in two large, socioeconomically, racially, and ethnically diverse school districts in the state of Texas. As the primary method of data collection, semi-structured interviews were conducted with: school district superintendents, school board members, choice program administrators, principals, community leaders, and parents. This study contributes to the school choice research literature through analyzing program operations, community influence in policy implementation, and the resulting implications for access and equity. The study concludes with policy recommendations to ensure maximum advantage to the students that school choice is designed to benefit.