Toward a balanced demographic: A case study of parents's preference for rural charter schools
Against a background of failure on the part of the focus of this case study to adhere to its founding charter in terms of enrollment, the purpose of this study was to explore how and why rural parents choose charter schools over traditional public schools. Using data collected through individual and focus group interviews, field observations, and source documents from a new rural public charter school, this case study examined the choice process employed by parents of the school's target and non-target populations through the lens of a hybrid school choice decision-making model. Parents considered a variety of student, school, and community factors when making their school choice decisions. Negative influencers included difficulties accessing school transportation, facilities conditions, and a fear of leaving friends. Though parents cited specialized programming as playing a role in their decision to enroll their children at the rural charter school, a positive school climate characterized by a "culture of care" emerged as the most powerful influencer of school choice. Implementation of a new, focused marketing mix strategy aligned to a 7Ps framework and informed by study findings led to a significant increase in the enrollment of target population students. Results demonstrate that a carefully designed marketing mix strategy can be a powerful tool to achieve demographically balanced enrollment in rural charter schools. In addition to the implications for recruitment and retention efforts of traditional and charter schools, this study highlights the profound impact of community on parents' decision making in a rural context, and it offers a new process model for future studies of school choice decision making.
Harris, Andrew. (April 2018). Toward a balanced demographic: A case study of parents's preference for rural charter schools (Doctoral Dissertation, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/6716.)
Harris, Andrew. Toward a balanced demographic: A case study of parents's preference for rural charter schools. Doctoral Dissertation. East Carolina University, April 2018. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/6716. August 15, 2018.
Harris, Andrew, “Toward a balanced demographic: A case study of parents's preference for rural charter schools” (Doctoral Dissertation., East Carolina University, April 2018).
Harris, Andrew. Toward a balanced demographic: A case study of parents's preference for rural charter schools [Doctoral Dissertation]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; April 2018.
East Carolina University