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This paper reports on the results of a study on the information and information sources that parents use when choosing a school under the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program. Surveys were sent to parents of students using the voucher in Duval County Florida and to parents of students with disabilities who are in the public school system. The results indicate that parents collect information on class size, academic quality, quality of teachers, special education programs, and curriculum. The types of information collected were consistent across race/ethnicity, income levels, area of student's disability, level of parents' education and parents' motivation. The most frequently used sources for information were the Florida Department of Education, friends/relatives, the private schools, and the Web/Internet. The Florida Department of Education was the most frequently used source for information on the scholarship; while the Web/Internet was the most frequently used source for information on the schools that accept the vouchers. Advocacy groups and professionals not associated with the schools were used as sources most often by respondents with children with higher levels of needed services and with low incidence disabilities. The data lend support to concerns that vouchers that are not limited to low income families will be used more often by parents with higher levels of education and income. Although, race/ethnicity did not appear to be a factor in information gathering in this study, the data indicate that more than sixty percent of African-American and Hispanic respondents who are using the McKay Scholarship are attending private religious schools. Currently, there is a case before the Florida Supreme Court which could find the use of vouchers at religious schools unconstitutional. The findings indicate that if vouchers cannot be used in religious schools then African-American and Hispanic families will be adversely affected to a greater extent than non-minority families. The data also indicate that parents of students using a voucher are more satisfied with the school their child attends and with the information and information sources they used than are public school parents.
Parent Use of Information Sources, Parent Use of Information, School Choice, Students with Disabilities, Vouchers
Date of Defense
March 04, 2005.
A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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