A school district's decision-making process regarding implementation of school choice : the case of one Texas public school district




Carlin-Gonzalez, Laura D.

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As school districts are challenged with facing the many demands of meeting the needs of all students, school choice is presented as one way to meet those needs. School choice is anchored in the economic theory of competition in that if parents and students are offered options for choice, then they will choose the best educational opportunities presented. In addition, if competition is injected into the educational system, all schools will improve as a result. Benefits and challenges have been identified regarding school choice. Despite the challenges, many traditional public-school superintendents and school leaders consider school choice implementation as a method of school reform. While there has been research regarding school choice benefits and challenges, further exploration was warranted regarding the decision-making process used to consider whether or not to implement school choice.
The purpose of this study was to determine the decision-making process employed to decide whether or not to implement schools of choice within a single school district. It also focused on what factors contributed to the exploration of school choice implementation, and how the specific process employed, by the school superintendent, was influenced by the emerging factors considered for choice implementation. Thus, the researcher explored the actions taken by the superintendent and district leaders as they considered school choice implementation. The researcher employed a constructionism epistemology with a qualitative single case study approach. Data was collected, coded, and analyzed using a deductive process. The researcher used multiple data sources in order to triangulate the data.
Findings suggested that factors that influenced the superintendent and school district leaders to explore school choice implementation were competition with neighboring schools, student achievement and student interests, and building on early successes. The findings further revealed the decision-making process employed by the district that included five phases: setting a vision, gathering data, soliciting community input, researching programs based on data, and creating tightly aligned implementation plans. The findings of the study discovered that the emerging factors influenced the decision-making process to be student-centered, highly data-driven and research based, and collaborative.


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