14 SES 10 A, NW 14 Network Special Session: Posters and Ignite Talk
The idea of parental freedom to choose any elementary school for their children has widely spread in the 21st century as an opposite to the traditional service models of uniform and centrally governed organization of education, and it has been accompanied both by adoration and strong criticism (Holloway & Pimlott-Wilson 2012). The most attention has been paid to the issue of school choice in the research of urban areas for a long time (Raveaud & van Zanten 2007), although the dominance of urban school as a norm regarding to character of education while overlooking the specific circumstances of rural schools has been openly pointed out since the 1970s (Cuervo 2016). On the other hand, the efforts to emphasize the unique culture of the rural schools have produced a new problem, as rural schools may be described as a seemingly uniform segment despite the many existing differences among them (Dvořák, Starý & Urbánek 2015). Therefore, the main aim of the poster is to identify the features of elementary schools “in demand” in terms of actual school choice in rural areas in Czechia.
Some factors that affect parents' school selection change over time and depend on the country or region-specific context, while other factors seem to be more general and similar internationally or even globally. The high demand for a school could be result of either school internal characteristics as its educational model, curriculum, climate and culture, pupil (ethnic and other) composition etc., or the school external environment. In many countries, the image of a school’s quality is strongly influenced by bureaucratic powers through the official score-rankings of schools (Wössmann 2003) as well as by unofficial information about the qualities of the chosen schools (recommendations from friends, own experience) (Ball & Vincent 1998).
Parental motives behind choosing a certain school and parental involvement have been established to a fairly great detail (e.g. Cucchiara & Horvat 2014). Using these aspects, Simonová (2017) provided a general definition of the perception of a "good school". The majority of published studies, however, focus on the societal aspects of the choice, whereas the spatial aspects seem to be neglected (Burgess, Greaves, Vignoles & Wilson 2015). But the differences between schools are given by the complex aspects of the geographical location of individual schools within the specific settlement structure where pupils live, the school past and present development, and characteristics of different social groups or parents.
Besides, the issues of school choice and preferences emerge not only at the normative entries or vertical transitions between levels of education but also in cases of horizontal transfers between schools within school levels reflecting the corrected choices (Rumberger 2003). Unlike vertical school mobilities, less attention is paid to horizontal pupil mobility, despite the fact that the non-normative transfers between schools could be an important indicator of parent satisfaction and popularity of individual schools as well as a guide for regional school planning (Altrichter, Heinrich & Soukup-Altrichter 2014).
The aim of our poster is to present the way how to identify the rural schools in demand in an extensive type of research with utilization of quantitative data. We will categorize the set of demanded schools and rural municipalities as an external environment for the implementation of education. We will solve research questions such as: What are the characteristics of the sets of schools that are most demanded? What are the characteristics of the sets of rural municipalities where these schools are located? Can general interdependence be identified in the territorial presence of such schools or is it a random occurrence which is justifiable only with specifics of individual schools?
The research scheme is composed first from the analysis of institutions providing elementary education, second from the analysis of rural municipal districts and finally we will identify mutual relations within these two sets. Although we aware of the existence of many approaches how to define rural school with more respect to its specific educational components, we will define the rural schools and municipalities on context-oriented approach, working with the set of all elementary schools and all municipalities in the country. Thus we will apply predominantly quantitative criteria: a set of municipalities with only one public school within municipality territory and simultaneously the population size of the municipality has to be less than 3,000 inhabitants. The first criterion follows from the presumption that the rural school used to be solely one such institution in the municipality and the second criterion is in accordance with the definition in Czech legislation. We will study the schools in demand selected according to following criteria: 1) Number of choices (transfers non-related to change of family residence): those schools with positive net migration rate (where more pupils enter than leave by transfers during a school year) will be considered as the schools in demand. The net migration rate will be weighted by total number of pupils at school. The capacity limits of school shall be taken into account. 2) Proportion between local and commuting pupils (determined by a pupils’ permanent residence in the municipality vs. those living outside the borders of the municipality where the school is located) in relation to the number of children of school age (6–14 years) in the municipality with the school. The commuters from the municipalities without a school and from ones with own school will be distinguished. The general assumption is: a school in highest demand is a school which both types of pupils, local and commuting actually attend. The Czech National Student Register serves predominantly as a data source for this part of the research. To analyse rural municipal district the quantitative socioeconomic indicators commonly used in current classifications of rural space will be extracted from the institutions like e.g. Czech Statistical Office. The typology of municipalities will be constructed with utilization of multidimensional statistical analysis. Final connection of the databases of schools with the rural municipal districts will be made within the software for geographical data analysis, the geographical information system.
This study is a part of wider research project and the poster presents only its first, extensive part. At the macro-regional level of entire Czechia, we will search for spatial patterns or relationships between quantitative characteristics of elementary schools and their rural municipalities. In this part of the research the schools in demand (due to internal properties of schools or their external environment) will be identified as well as the territories where these schools are located more frequently (that indicates a demand caused by external environment). It is necessary to follow in the subsequent qualitative research at micro-regional level in instrumental case studies to better explain the causes. To overcome the difficulties in understanding of data of diverse origin and to cope with the different ways of their methodical processing, this transdisciplinary topic of the circumstances of school choice will be studied by a team of specialists from various scientific disciplines: educational sciences, geography, geoinformatics, political science and demography.
Altrichter, H., Heinrich, M., & Soukup-Altrichter, K. (2014). School decentralization as a process of differentiation, hierarchization and selection. Journal of Education Policy, 29(5), 375–699. Ball, S. J., & Vincent, C. (1998). “I heard it on the grapevine”: “hot” knowledge and school choice. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 19(3), 377–400. Burgess, S., Greaves, E., Vignoles, A., & Wilson, D. (2015). What parents want: School preferences and school choice. Economic Journal, 125(587), 1262–1289. Cucchiara, M. B., Horvat, E. M. (2014): Choosing selves: The salience of parental identity in the school choice proces. Journal of Education Policy, 29(4), 486–509. Cuervo, H. (2016). Understanding Social Justice in Rural Education. New York: Palgrave. Dvořák, D., Starý, K., & Urbánek, P. (2015). Škola v globální době. Proměny pěti českých základních škol. Praha: Karolinum. Holloway, S. L., & Pimlott-Wilson, H. (2012). Neoliberalism, policy localisation and idealised subjects: A case study on educational restructuring in England. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 37(4), 639–654. Raveaud, M., & van Zanten, A. (2007). Choosing the local school: Middle class parents’ values and social and ethnic mix in London and Paris. Journal of Education Policy, 22(1), 107–124. Rumberger, R. W. (2003). The causes and consequences of student mobility. Journal of Negro Education, 72(1), 6–21. Simonová, J. (2017). Charakteristiky dobré základní školy z pohledu rodičů. Pedagogická orientace, 27(1), 136–159. Wössmann, L. (2003). Schooling resources, educational institutions and student performance: The international evidence. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 65, 117–170.
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