AEFP 45th Annual Conference

Toward a Meaningful Impact through Research, Policy & Practice

March 19-21, 2020

Connecting Students to Schools: The Role of Website Size and Visibility on School Decision-Making

Presenter: 
Z.W. Taylor, The University of Texas at Austin, zt@utexas.edu

As open enrollment charter schools have continued to grow in Texas, researchers and policymakers have continued to investigate how charter schools market themselves to the public in an effort to recruit students, teachers, and finances. Although a wealth of research has examined how charter schools recruit students, teachers, and finances through traditional methods, recent developments in computer science now allows researchers to measure the size and visibility of school district websites on the Internet. As a result, this study uses Texas Education Agency and SEMrush data from the 2018-2019 school year to compare the website size and visibility of charter school and traditional public school district websites to understand how these districts invest in their robustness of their web presence. Results suggest that, when compared to traditional public school districts in Texas, charter school districts publish smaller websites (p

Poster: 

Comments

I apologize for some overlap in my comments on this paper and its companion. Have you explored interacting charter with region? More generally, have you thought about ways in which you could compare the webites of charter schools to the websites of school districts that are near them geographically?

This is an interesting topic--and I am going to admit upfront to knowing very little about the measures of webpages that you're using here. I wish this were a face-to-face session so I could learn more! I'm wondering about how webpages are counted here--do the "children" websites of a district (like the individual websites of separate schools) count in the district's overall total? If so, how do you think about the potentially different mixes of students based on grade levels in charters vs. traditional public schools? (I'd imagine that charter enrollment is somewhat more prevalent at the K-8 level, which I would also assume would be a level with less robust webpages). I'd be interested to hear more about the end goals for the project too. Based on the title, you seem to be aiming to link these to students' actual enrollment choices down the road, and I'd be interested to hear more about how you're thinking about linking website presence to student choices.

Agree - this is an interesting topic and understudied. Given what I think is the goal, to see if websites make a difference in choices?? If so, then size and backlinks do not seem like ideal outcomes. Easy of use, relevant info in x clicks, appealing to end user all seem like more appropriate and to some extent measurable outcomes. Competition for students is critical even within school districts (thus, to reiterate a point make in the other comments) - perhaps more interesting to examine at the school level. Some more framing would be helpful to better understand the aims of the study.

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