The unintended impact of inter-district choice : the narrative case study of one unchosen school.

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The purpose of this study was to investigate an unchosen school and bring to light this unfortunate outcome of school choice policy. An unchosen school, as defined by the researcher, is one that is experiencing the loss of at least 15% of the school’s residentially zoned student population to surrounding institutions as a result of school choice. Inter-district school choice was the focus for this study, as it is the type of choice most utilized in rural areas, an often overlooked area that is effected by choice. Literature and empirical data support the notion that advantaged students exercise choice, whereas disadvantaged students typically remain in the school that is being exited, sometimes this lack of choice is forced upon these at-risk students. This narrative case study posed the research question: What are the influencing factors of Redville ISD becoming unchosen? A conceptual framework developed by the researcher prior to the study represented culminating factors of an unchosen school found in literature and was used as a constant comparison to Redville ISD, a rural Texas school district deemed as failing and being taken over by Texas Education Agency (TEA) in the 2015-16 school year. Evidence within the literature and this study reveal that surrounding schools filter transferring in students. Therefore, students with discipline problems, poor performance on standardized test or attendance issues are not likely not allowed to utilize inter-district choice. Results from this study demonstrate that these practices result in an unchosen school that encompasses detrimental influencing factors including: Advantaged students exiting, surrounding schools filtering transfers, lacking involved parents, the school housing less students overall that leads to a loss of funding, an increasing percentage of low income students, retaining less test passers-resulting in lower test passing percentage, a divided community, cultivating deficit thinking about remaining student population, and an increase in discipline problems and crime.

Unchosen schools are an inadvertent result of school choice and are detrimental to education as a whole. Further investigations in this area are needed to bring to light this social injustice and seek better solutions for the students suffering from the consequences of choice policies.

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School Choice. Inter-district Choice. Unchosen. Transfers. Education. Education policy.

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