Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type

Dissertation (Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Leadership and Policy Studies


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

Charisse Gulosino

Committee Member

Wendy Griswold

Committee Member

Louis Franceschini


A dramatic shift in Catholic-school demographics has occurred since the 1960s. Despite a growing Catholic population across the United States—from 45 million people in 1965 to approximately 77 million in 2014—overall Catholic-school enrollment has dropped from 5.5 million students in nearly 13,000 schools in 1965 to 2.1 million students in the 2011-12 school year. Non-Catholic student enrollment has increased from 2.8% in 1965 to 16% in 2010. In this case study, applying both qualitative and quantitative research methods, an understanding was sought of the factors parents find important to school choice, the differences and similarities between Catholic and non-Catholic parents in this regard, and what factors influence Catholic parents to choose against a Catholic high school for their children. This study was conducted within the Diocese of Tulsa in the state of Oklahoma by collecting data through the use of an online survey completed by parents who have children enrolled in a Tulsa Catholic high school and focus groups with Catholic parents who did not choose Catholic high schools for their children. Significant findings emerged from the data surrounding factors parents find most important to school choice such as overall reputation of the school, academic quality, academic standards, discipline, sports programs, and extracurricular activities.The focus groups revealed reasons Catholic parents do not choose Catholic high schools for their children, which include cost of tuition, a perceived weakness in religious instruction, and the competition of academic standards by public schools and non-Catholic private schools. Recommendations for further research include replicating the current study by expanding the sample size beyond one Catholic diocese. It is also recommended to refine both the survey instrument and guiding focus-group questions to gather pertinent data facilitatingan exploration of any relationships between the perceptions of parents and their owneducation backgrounds.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.