Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

Students' Choice of Schools for Their Children: Logistic Regression Analysis on Contributing Factors

Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

Students' Choice of Schools for Their Children: Logistic Regression Analysis on Contributing Factors

Article excerpt

School choice has been an issue in the education systems where parents are given the autonomy to select schools for their children. Previous research suggests that parental decisions are affected by demographic, financial, and value-related factors. This study investigated variables including: demographic and socio-economic background, motivation, quality of school curriculum, quality of school life, and classroom environment as factors contributing to secondary students' choice of schools for their own children. The sample comprised 8,265 secondary students from 70 Catholic schools in New South Wales, Australia. Analysis of variance and logistic regression were used to identify contributing factors of school choice. Findings suggested that students' expectations of schools, quality of school curriculum, quality of school life, and the classroom environments they experienced all contributed to their intention to send their own children to the same schools, after controlling for their background differences. On the other hand, students' intentions were not affected by their gender, socio-economic backgrounds, or country of birth.

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors that influence the intention of Grade 12 students enrolled in Catholic schools to send their children to Catholic schools. Much of the research into school choice has taken a parental perspective (Reay & Lucey, 2000). This study attempts to present the students' intention to send their children to Catholic schools, having experienced Catholic education themselves. Specifically, this study aims to relate students' choice of sending or not sending their children to Catholic schools to their school experiences, their evaluation of the school curriculum, and school environment after controlling for students' background variables in order to shed light on factors that influence the choice of Catholic schools from the students' perspective.

IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOL CHOICE RESEARCH

School choice is one of the most controversial educational issues today and has enjoyed much attention in the Netherlands, the UK, and the US in the last 15 years (Jeynes, 2000). The school choice movement emerged as a reaction to the disappointment concerning the lack of progress of education reforms (Jeynes, 2000) and the apparent edge of private school students over their public school counterparts in standardized test scores (Goldhaber, 1997). The freedom of parents to choose schools for their children is, in itself, appealing, and is in line with the concept of liberty, a fundamental value underpinning modern European and American culture. Some supporters of school choice, such as Friedman, advocate it as a mechanism for ensuring school quality (Jeynes, 2000). Other writers (Unger, 1998) hail school choice as a "new era in education" and assert that school choice enables parents and children to exercise their civic rights to quality education (America, 1991; Lanis, 1999). From an educational and economic perspective, market selection may be a mechanism to bring in a balance of power between the provider and consumer of education (Jeynes, 2000; Stevans & Sessions, 2000). Most arguments against school choice rested on two propositions. First, school choice was thought to lead to inequity. It was argued that families with different socio-economic status had different options of choice and parents were differentially equipped to choose because of their educational and occupational backgrounds. Choice was thus perceived to result in further segregation. Opponents of choice feared for the creaming off of elite students from more affluent families that had both the capacity and the knowledge to choose (Gewirtz, Ball, & Bowe, 1995; Goldhaber, 1997; Reay & Ball, 1998). The second argument against school choice is doubt to the claim that school choice leads to improvement. It was argued (Goldhaber, 1997, 1999) that parents might choose on religious or racial grounds, instead of on school quality. …

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