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A Contest With No Winners: Student Experiences of Competitive School Choice Policy

Sun, April 30, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Meeting Room Level, Room 216 A

Abstract

This study explores how students experienced competitive school choice policy, which allows students a choice of schools, including many that use academic performance criteria for admissions purposes. Existing literature on competitive choice primarily concerns admissions outcomes across demographic groups. This multi-sited, longitudinal case study, conducted in Chicago Public Schools, takes a broader view. It explores a racially, socioeconomically and academically diverse group of students’ experiences with competitive choice over two academic years. Competitive choice contributed to a range of academic, social, developmental and civic outcomes, promoting students’ individualistic, instrumental approach to schooling. This policy’s implementation was shaped by, and contributed to, local contexts of income inequality and neighborhood segregation. Implications for more equitable school choice are addressed.

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