Using Behavioral Science to Understand Why Some Durham Families Choose Non-public School Options (2019-2020)

This Bass Connections project used behavioral science to understand how Durham families are making decisions about school enrollment. The project team mapped the points in a child’s education when families make school choices, the types of information they use and the people and networks that serve as sources of information.

Team members conducted 11 expert interviews with principals from different types of schools, academic experts on school choice, and on-the-ground preschool teachers, realtors, parent advocates, and affiliates of Durham Public Schools among different parent “touchpoints” (buying a house, graduating daycare, joining a parent advocacy group, attending a magnet school fair, etc.). They found that the system is complex to navigate, charter and magnet schools are more likely to use distinctive programing or features to drive demand, and that parents look to informal networks for help.

Timing

Summer 2019 – Spring 2020

Team Outputs

Understanding Why Some Durham Families Choose Non-public School Options (poster by Mariel Beasley, Joseph Sherlock, Jonathan Cloughesy, Laura Schaaf, Ritik Goyal, Andrew Lee, Caroline Olsen, Gillian Samios, Nicoly Santos, Nitin Subramanian, Mingyang Zhang)

 

Image: Durham County Public Schools (DPS 2018 Convocation), by Strawbridge Partners, public domain 

Durham County Public Schools (DPS 2018 Convocation), by Strawbridge Partners.

Team Leaders

  • Mariel Beasley, Social Science Research Institute
  • Joseph Sherlock, Social Science Research Institute

/graduate Team Members

  • Laura Schaaf, Public Policy Studies-AM

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Ritik Goyal, Computer Science (BS), Statistical Science (BS2)
  • Andrew Lee
  • Caroline Olsen, Interdepartmental Major
  • Gillian Samios, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Nicoly Santos, Psychology (AB)
  • Nitin Subramanian
  • Mingyang Zhang, Public Policy Studies (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Jonathan Cloughesy, Center for Advanced Hindsight

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Magan Gonzales-Smith, Durham Public Schools Foundation