23 SES 11 C, Comparing and Contrasting School Choice Policies: Problematics in Comparison
When choosing a school parents use different types of information in order to make a good choice. They try to approximate the quality of schools and the composition of pupils, and contrast those with their hopes and fears concerning their child’s education (van Zanten 2009). Parents count in the reputations of the schools in decision-making (Ball & Vincent 1998). We aim to clarify how are the reputations of the schools built, by which informational circuits reputations are constructed, and what sorts of reputational hierarchies families form when making decisions in the school market. Comparing two different educational settings, Finland, where no public school evaluation data of comprehensive schools is provided, and Chile, where abundant standardized information on school performance is available, allows a systematic evaluation of how 'hot' (tacit, symbolic, rumor-based) knowledge of schools influences parental decision-making.The data consists of in-depth interviews with parents (N=104) in the two case countries and ethnographical data.It seems that the reputations of schools consist of fractions and have an impact on parental choices. Avoiding certain schools in terms of protecting one’s child was a key factor in both case countries. Differences emerged when contrasting the profiles of the schools to be avoided.
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