Slide #1.

How Does Information Influence Parental Choice? The SmartChoices Project in Hartford, Connecticut by Jack Dougherty, Diane Zannoni, Maham Chowhan ‘10, Courteney Coyne 10, Benjamin Dawson ‘11, Tehani Guruge ‘11, and Begaeta Nukic ’11 Cities, Suburbs, and Schools Project at Trinity College Presentation for AERA May 2010
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Slide #2.

What is SmartChoices? Parent-friendly website to navigate growing number of district and interdistrict public education options Address-specific tool identifies all eligible choices among 200+ metro area public schools Coverage area: City of Hartford and 17 suburbs http://SmartChoices.trincoll.edu
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Slide #3.

Why did we create SmartChoices? 1) Sheff desegregation remedy expanded interdistrict magnets
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Slide #4.

Why did we create SmartChoices? 1) Sheff desegregation remedy expanded interdistrict magnets 2) City shifted from assigned schools to citywide “all-choice” 1999 2009
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Slide #5.

Why did we create SmartChoices? 1) Sheff desegregation remedy expanded interdistrict magnets 2) City shifted from assigned schools to citywide “all-choice” 3) Parents confused by competing choice providers, with different applications and no comprehensive info source
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Slide #6.

Who uses SmartChoices? 3,385 distinct searches during 5-month window 77% in City of Hartford 23% in suburbs & outlying areas
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Slide #7.

The Parent Workshop Research Design We conducted outreach workshops and interviewed selfselected participants (n=93) who fit our study criteria: • searching preK to 8th grade inside coverage area • sorted web results at least one time Interviews Event Type 52 Neighborhood school workshops 41 Regional School Choice Fairs
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Slide #8.

How did participants differ in Neighborhood vs Choice Fairs? While both groups were mostly non-white parents, Neighborhood workshop participants had less educated and computer experience than Choice Fair participants.
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Slide #9.

How did participants differ in Neighborhood vs Choice Fairs? While both groups were mostly non-white parents, Neighborhood workshop participants had less educated and computer experience than Choice Fair participants.
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Slide #10.

How did participants differ in Neighborhood vs Choice Fairs? While both groups were mostly non-white parents, Neighborhood workshop participants had less educated and computer experience than Choice Fair participants.
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Slide #11.

How did workshops influence parents’ thinking? We asked the same pre- and post-workshop question: For one child in your family, what are your top choices for schools next fall?
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Slide #12.

For participants who changed, how did pre/post choices differ? For the 32 participants who changed their top choices, we compared their pre/post selections, and categorized them: Similar (1/3 St Dev of mean difference), Less, or Greater.
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Slide #13.

For participants who changed, how did pre/post choices differ?
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Slide #14.

For participants who changed, how did pre/post choices differ?
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Slide #15.

For participants who changed, how did pre/post choices differ? Does this mean that parents who changed their top-choice schools were not concerned with distance? Not necessarily. . .
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Slide #16.

How did people who used SmartChoices sort their results? Across all groups, most frequently selected categories: Test Goal and Distance.
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Slide #17.

How did people who used SmartChoices sort their results? Across all groups, most frequently selected categories: Test Goal and Distance.
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Slide #18.

How did people who used SmartChoices sort their results? We found two extremes among workshop participants: 33 % sorted once (minimum request by workshop guide) vs. 51 % who sorted three or more times. The latter were more likely to self-report as regular computer users. By comparison, in the larger population of 3,385 distinct searches, 70 % did not sort their results.
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Slide #19.

What data did participants perceive to be most important? We thematically coded 25 interviews (out of 32 who changed top-choice schools), and found three major categories:
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Slide #20.

What data did participants perceive to be most important? Parent 1: Test Scores Matter (64%) “That’s one’s good. They’re almost at the state average and improving. . . The Test Goal and the Gain. . . interest me more because I know she’s going to get her education.” Parent 2: Racial Balance Matters (32%) “I like this one, this has a [racial] balance, a nice balance I would say.” Racial balance matters because “I think it helps kids learn better. It would be any race, not just Spanish, three-quarters Spanish.” Parent 3: Distance Matters (25%) “Es esta la milla de mi casa at la escuela? [Is this the mileage from my house to the school?]
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Slide #21.

Download paper for discussion of related literature and more about SmartChoices design & open-source code http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/educ/css
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