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What Do Parents Want? An Exploration of School Preferences Expressed by Boston Parents


  • Glaeser, Ed

    (Harvard University)

  • Poftak, Steve

    (Harvard University)

  • Tobio, Kristina

    (Harvard University)


This working paper seeks to determine the preferences of Boston parents for certain school attributes. It analyzes data provided by the Boston Public Schools and the Massachusetts School Building Authority to determine what factors are most closely correlated with popular schools in Boston's public school lottery. The report finds that parents favor closer schools and schools with higher levels of academic achievement (as measured by the MCAS test). It also finds that certain school structures--K1 (over K2 only) schools and K-8 (over K-5) schools--are preferred. The working paper found that other school offerings, both structural and programs, did not matter. Overall school size, computer facilities, and gyms did not have a significant impact. Art, music, and science lab facilities had minimal or no impact. The working paper also provides detailed information on how neighborhood, racial composition, and socio-economic conditions impact school preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Glaeser, Ed & Poftak, Steve & Tobio, Kristina, 2013. "What Do Parents Want? An Exploration of School Preferences Expressed by Boston Parents," Working Paper Series rwp13-024, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp13-024

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