Doctoral Dissertation Defense by LeTania Severe

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Venue:MMC, SIPA 502/3

UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL BULLETIN ANNOUNCEMENT

Florida International University University Graduate School

Doctoral Dissertation Defense

Abstract

Access to Better Education: The School Choice Experience of Families Served By Low-Performing Elementary Public Schools in Miami-Dade County

by LĂ©Tania P. Severe

Public school choice education policy attempts to create an education marketplace in which schools compete for students and parents are given control over where their children attend school. Although school choice research has focused on the parent role in the school choice process, little is known about parents served by low-performing schools. Based on market theory, students attending low-performing schools should be the primary students attempting to use school choice policy to access higher performing schools. However, students remain in these low-performing schools. This study takes place in Miami-Dade County, which is the fourth largest school district in the nation. The County offers a wide variety of school choice options through charter schools, magnet schools, and open choice schools.

This dissertation utilizes a mixed methods design to examine the decision-making process and school choice options utilized by the parents of students served by low-performing elementary schools in Miami-Dade County. Research questions were addressed using semi-structured interviews with parents, a statistical analysis of student demographic and academic data, and a geographic analysis of the proximity of schooling options to student homes.

The findings of the interview data clearly illustrate that parents’ perceived needs are not being adequately addressed by state policy and county programs. Parents did not fully understand their schooling options and the resources available to assist them in using those options. Students served by low-performing schools should be targeted for school choice options by the school district and by the choice schools themselves. The statistical analysis found that students from higher socioeconomic social groups were not more likely to transfer than students from lower socioeconomic social groups.

Additionally, students who did transfer were not likely to end up at a higher achieving school. The findings of the binary logistic regression demonstrated that transfer students were significantly more likely to live closer to alternative school options.

Date: November 14, 2014
Department: Global and Sociocultural Studies
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Major Professor: Guillermo Grenier
Place: SIPA 502/503