WHY PARENTS, IN THE PENNS VALLEY AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, CHOOSE CYBER CHARTER OR CHARTER SCHOOLS OVER THE LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT

Open Access
Author:
Connell, Sherri Lee
Graduate Program:
Educational Leadership
Degree:
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
April 22, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Jacqueline A Stefkovich, Dissertation Advisor
Keywords:
  • charter school
  • cyber charter school
  • enrollment
  • traditional public school
  • parental choice
  • parental decision making
Abstract:
This research examines why parents, in the Penns Valley Area School District, choose cyber charter or charter schools over the local public school district. Specifically, this study addressed the following research questions: 1. Why do parents, in the Penns Valley Area School District, make the choice to consider charter schools? 2. How do parents learn about schooling options and what data do they use to make their decisions about where to send their children to school? 3. What are the aspects of public schools, if any, that parents are seeking to escape when they send their child to a charter or cyber charter school? 4. What values drive parents’ decisions to choose charter or cyber charter schools over Penns Valley’s local public school? In order to analyze parental decision making, Weiss’s (1995) decision making framework was used as Weiss’s framework takes into account the data or information collected, the beliefs of the parents as well as the ideologies which parents possess. Data were collected via parent focus groups as well as individual interviews. The study found that when parents in the Penns Valley Area School District become dissatisfied with the local public school option, they gather information via friends and other community members. This information, coupled with the parents’ interest in a school that provides interaction between school and home, higher order thinking experiences, people outside the classroom participating in learning, individualized learning and career/interest opportunities, led parents to choose charter or cyber charter schools. If local public schools want to lessen the exodus of students from their buildings, they must begin to think of parents and students as customers. These customers have specific interests and values which must be understood. This study provides the basis for that understanding for one school district, the Penns Valley Area School District.