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Low achievement in public schools and wide achievement gaps between learners of color and low income and their white and higher-income peers are persistent concerns in U.S. K-12 schools. Two promising reforms have been proposed to improve educational outcomes: school choice and greater parental involvement. This study examines how these two reforms affect elementary-level student achievement, using nationally representative longitudinal data on early elementary grades in the United States. The author found that school type is not associated with reader scores but that attending a religious private school tends to be negatively correlated with math scores. Academic expectations by parents for their children and children’s reading at home both have robust correlations with reading and math scores but active school involvement by parents has no correlation with reading scores and very little association with math scores.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Parental Decisions and Academic Achievement: A Review of Literature

  • Chapter Three

    Conceptual Framework, Data Description and Analytic Strategy

  • Chapter Four

    Findings of the Study

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions and Policy Discussions

  • Appendix A

  • Appendix B

  • Appendix C

  • Appendix D

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in September, 2006 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Richard Buddin (Chair), Laura Hamilton, and Gery Ryan.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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