Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Burgin, Ximena D.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment (ETRA)


Educational segregation has been increasing across public elementary schools in Uruguay producing negative effects on students’ outcomes, performance, and opportunities. It also affects social cohesion. Previous studies detect the presence of educational segregation in Uruguay, identify the predominance of socioeconomic segregation in education in the country, and study the relationships between public and private institutions. A review of the extant literature demonstrates there is a gap in the exploration of the possible factors that contribute to the phenomenon. Moreover, there is a need to know the perceptions and experiences of Uruguayan families about the influence of these factors in their decision-making process of school selection in the interior of the country.This qualitative case study explores Uruguayan public urban elementary school parents’ perceptions and experiences about the influence of contextual, sociocultural, and institutional factors in the decision-making process of first grade students’ school registration in Uruguayan public elementary schools. Six online focus groups which included 27 participants and two unstructured interviews with three of those same participants were conducted. Nine themes emerged from the findings which were classified in contextual, sociocultural and institutional factors. Among the contextual factors the findings refer to the role of the school neighborhood in school selection and the self-definition of the neighborhood families and the relation to education. Regarding sociocultural factors the themes were the proximity between school and home as a priority, the influence of familiar traditions when choosing a school, the role of staff performance and school conception when choosing a school, peer effect: the relevance of classmates, and type of school: the avoidance of full-time schools. Finally, in terms of institutional factors were institutional requirements for students’ enrollment and the parents´ preferences, priorities and requirements about the school building. Based on the themes identified and analyzed, it was possible to conclude that the mechanisms that the participants used to register their children in Uruguayan public schools were apparently flexible and therefore the participants perceived that they were choosing the school of their preference. However, it was detected that there were contextual, sociocultural, and institutional factors linked to the socioeconomic status of the participating families that limited and partly determined this choice. It is also considered that these factors contribute to the consolidation and increase of educational segregation in Uruguayan public schools. This thesis proposes a discussion and analysis of these three factors from the perspectives of the participants.


182 pages




Northern Illinois University

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