Date of Award

Fall 9-16-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy

Department

Education Leadership, Management and Policy

Advisor

Barbara V. Strobert, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Luke J. Stedrak, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Anthony Colella, Ph.D.

Keywords

school choice, cyber school choice, virtual school choice, elementary school choice, parent factors

Abstract

School choice is a long-standing tradition in the United States. New to the options available to K-12 parents are full-time virtual schools, and this option is an even more recent development for Grades K-6 parents. Very little research exists on why parents are choosing full-time virtual education for their school-aged children, and almost no research exists on why parents of younger children (Grades K-6) are choosing this option. This descriptive, exploratory study sought to answer the following research questions: (1) What factors led parents to enroll their elementary students in a full-time cyber school? (2) Were these factors attributable to positive (“pull” factor) characteristics of the cyber school in which the child was enrolling, or were the factors attributable to negative (“push” factor) characteristics of the school the child was leaving? (3) Do the factors identified by parents vary by parents’ race/ethnicity, educational levels, or income levels? An online survey was used to collect data from parents of the Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy in 2015. This study suggests that parents of Grades K-6 students chose full-time cyber learning for children due to pull factors related to MGLVA (Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy). Specifically, parents seemed most interested in being able to individualize education for their children and being able to instill their values in their children by educating them at home. Emphases on teaching the basics and on teacher quality were also important factors for parents. Attention should also be given to the several factors (bullying, Special Education/504 Plans, teacher attributes, and quality curriculum) that parents took extra effort to mention in the open-ended response items. Implications for practice, future research, and policy are discussed.

 
 

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