Jon Valant

Graduate School of Education
Center for Education Policy Analysis

Governed by Choice: How School Choosers and the Public Assess School Quality and Respond to Information



My work through the Lab supports three different projects. The first project examines how parents respond to various types of information as they choose which schools their children will attend. I use survey experiments to supplement field experiments that explored how the provision of additional information and support affected school selection and subsequent student outcomes. Here, I take a step back, looking at how manipulations related to the types of information provided (e.g., test scores or school culture ratings), the language used to describe that information, and the source of that information (e.g., government, nonprofits, or other parents) affect parental attitudes toward schools.  My second project examines whether parents have different desires for their own childrenís schools from what parents or all Americans desire from schools around their communities and across the country. I test whether parents are more focused on extracting private benefits from their own children’s schools (e.g., preparation for elite colleges and desirable jobs), while we seek more public benefits from other children’s schools (e.g., contributions to a strong economy and cohesive society). Differences here could be consequential if the trend toward greater parental school choice continues. My third project examines attitudes toward educational equity in the United States.  The conventional framing of the educational equity problem is the ìBlack-White achievement gap. Here, I explore the effects of presenting that problem as wealth-based rather than race-based, opportunity-based rather than achievement-based, and as something more than a simple gap in test score means.