A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF CHARTER SCHOOL STUDENTS AND PARENTS IN ONE RURAL SCHOOL DISTRICT: WHY THEY GO, THE NATURE OF THEIR EXPERIENCES, AND WHY SOME CHOOSE TO LEAVE
AuthorYoder, Sarah Elizabeth
AdvisorSmith, Michael W. (Michael William), 1954-
Committee memberGross, Steven Jay
McGinley, Christopher W.
Cyber Charter School
Traditional Public School
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/3891
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AbstractTwo coinciding trends in education have given rise to this study: the political cycle of school reform and the heterogeneous nature of the charter school landscape. Since Minnesota became the first state to pass a charter law in 1991, the dramatic increase in the number of charter schools has provided opportunities for researchers to try to categorize the success of charter schools. Although the number of charter schools have almost doubled from 3,689 to 6,004 from 2005-2006 to 2012-2013, an average of approximately 500 charters have opened and more than 160 charter schools have closed per year during these eight years of the available data. However, students who attend charter schools do not have a monolithic educational experience. The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceptions of students and parents in relation to enrolling in a specific brick and mortar and several cyber charter schools, and if applicable, leaving said schools. This qualitative study explores the lived experiences of students and parents who reside in a rural public school district and chose to attend a cyber charter or brick and mortar charter school. Survey responses and information gathered from interviews of students and their parents/guardians were analyzed to illuminate the research questions. While the results will not be generalizable, this study has led to an understanding of what led these students to enroll in charter schools and if applicable, why they chose to leave. More specifically, three themes emerged from the data: (1) Family members, primarily mothers, significantly impacted students’ decisions to employ choice to enroll in charters; (2) The lack of extra-curricular activities in charters had a substantially negative impact on students’ experiences and (3) Educational quality was the foremost characteristic named in the determination to transfer out of a charter school. While there has been research on charter schools separate from studies on perceptions of school age children with respect to education programming, this examination indicates the need to unite charter research and student voice aspects within the realm of educational research.
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