Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

David Jalajas, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Arthur Lewin, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Joseph Piro, Ph. D.


Low levels of academic achievement among minority students in U.S. schools continues to be problematic. Although school choice, via enrollment in public charter or private schools, is one strategy that may improve academic achievement among minorities, little is known about how parents of minority students understand and exercise school choice. The purpose of this multiple case study was to explore understandings of school choice among parents with students enrolled in three types of schools: (a) public charter, (b) private, and (c) traditional public. The framework consisted of three theories: bounded rationality, the economic theory of school choice, and critical race theory. Data were collected via three focus groups with parents from three types of schools. . Through axial coding, a total of seven themes were identified, including definitions of school choice provided by minority parents, social perceptions of school choice, economic perceptions of school choice are negative, strategies used to access information, factors in parents’ school choice decisions, school choice information is inaccessible or unavailable, and parents should be informed of school choice. Eleven subthemes emerged, including parents unfamiliar with school choice, school choice describes options for parents and students, tools available for school choice, positive perceptions, negative perceptions, networking, proactive research, financial factors, student-level factors, parent preference factors, and school-level factors. While school choice has the potential to improve academic outcomes for minority students, the current research highlighted challenges in parent’s decision-making processes that may undermine the potential of school choice to improve educational equity.