This year’s conference theme, "Strength in Numbers," is a celebration of a decade of data-informed progress from across our network and an opportunity to discuss our future direction. Join us for our 10th-anniversary celebration. We will look back at the evidence-informed progress we’ve made as a sector but also look forward to the pressing issues of the day. This year the event will take place at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, MA from May 20–22, 2019. 

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Tuesday, May 21 • 9:30am - 10:45am
Nudging Parents to Choose Better Schools: How Information Design Drives Action Breakout Session
Limited Capacity seats available

Researchers and policymakers examining school choice often assume that parents have well-ordered and stable preferences when it comes to their most important decisions, including where to send their children for school. A common assumption is that parents will be able to make the “correct” choice as long as they have access to complete information through school finders or “school shopping websites” (e.g., Levin 2002). But preferences may be more malleable than many assume, and parents might be influenced by the intentional or unintentional decisions that designers make about how to present information—how much detail to include, what attributes to describe, how to format the data shown for each attribute, and how to sort the options.
In this session, participants will engage with the findings of a study examining how various information displays changed parents’ decisions about which school they’d prefer for their children, and in some cases also affected the extent to which parents could easily understand information about schools and have a satisfying experience using each school shopping website. After hearing about how design choices can meaningfully increase the weight parents place on academic quality when selecting a school (compared to other attributes, such as a school’s distance from home), attendees will examine their own school guides and unpack how relatively simple and inexpensive design choices can produce meaningful changes in how parents interpret, process and use information about schools.
To prepare for this session, please submit an example of a local school guide here. This could be from a public agency, or a private resource like U.S. News & World Report.


Ira Nichols-Barrer

Senior Researcher, Mathematica Policy Research
I study the effectiveness of school choice policies and programs (charter schools, magnet schools, and how parents make decisions about schools). I'll be presenting the results of a new study examining how school information guides can help nudge parents to make better school cho... Read More →

Tuesday May 21, 2019 9:30am - 10:45am EDT
Longfellow A, First Floor Charles Hotel (1 Bennett St, Cambridge, MA, USA)