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Parents' perceptions of school effectiveness : an investigation into parents' perceptions of the effectiveness of Tasmanian public schools

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Ewington, John H (1996) Parents' perceptions of school effectiveness : an investigation into parents' perceptions of the effectiveness of Tasmanian public schools. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

In 1992, Tasmanian schools were using forms of school self management based on school
effectiveness literature. An accountability vacuum from the client's perspective had been
predicted. There was an increasing need for school managers and policy makers to become
more responsive to parents.
One aim of the project reported here was to set up processes to obtain feedback from
parents which would allow school managers and policy makers to pick up 'weak signals'
coming from their parent body. Another aim was to use the same processes to determine
the perception that parents have of the effectiveness of Tasmanian public schools. Two
research questions were selected. What are the perceptions that Tasmanian parents have
of the effectiveness of public schools in Tasmania? What are the differences in
perceptions between various groups within the Tasmanian parent community? Political support for the project was obtained after representation was made to the
Department of Education and the Arts (DEA), State Schools Parents and Friends
Association and 'Melville Swamp' school principals, councils, parents and friends
association and teachers. These discussions helped develop categories concerning
effectiveness and led iteratively to the joint development of an instrument. The
questionnaire gathered both preferences and perceptions of the actual situation using
items related to the content categories; sense of mission, school community relationships, high expectations, safe and orderly environment, educational leadership and student
progress. Responses to open questions were used to interpret patterns.
A qualitative and quantitative approach was used to develop the instrument. Trialing and
refining the survey instrument continued with the Melville Swamp school parents,
councillors, principals and teachers until it had acceptable levels of reliability and validity.
A stratified random sample of parents in Tasmanian public schools was then surveyed.
Schools were divided into groups according to type, size and educational needs index from
which random selections were made. Approximately fifteen hundred parents from
twenty eight schools were invited to respond to the survey. Good response rates,
averaging 60%, were obtained. This exercise demonstrated that parents' view on school effectiveness can be both
categorised and measured. The were significant differences between groups of parents.
Eigen values combined with an analysis of optional comments suggest that parents make
an overall judgement of 'goodness' or 'badness' largely based on the quality of the
relationship between their children and their children's teachers. Other judgements are
made within this global assessment.
A conceptual framework relating the content categories used in this study was developed.
Other linkages were hypothesised to further the development of a school effectiveness
conceptual framework.
High school parents have stronger preferences about matters related to achievement,
progress and expectations while primary school parents have stronger preferences with
regard to the use of volunteers within the school. Perceptions of the actual situation in
schools varied greatly. Primary school parents' responses were significantly more
favourable than either high school or district high school parent responses. District high
schools were perceived by parents as the least effective of the three types of school.
Urban parents perceive schools to be significantly more effective than do parents of rural
schools. This finding was traced to the larger number of less experienced and more mobile
teachers found in rural schools.
This study suggested a number of practical recommendations. Teachers should be
provided with the opportunity to explore the implications of the core principles of
school effectiveness. School leaders should evaluate parents' perceptions of school
effectiveness along with other forms of accountability data and to look for new policy
touchstone. Flexible industrial arrangements should be negotiated for school professionals
so that a variety of communication strategies can be implemented that take account of the
changing nature of work and family. The DEA should look for alternative methods of
staffing rural schools. Parents should be encouraged to make formal and informal school
visits.
Recommendations concerning the theory of school effectiveness and further research
centred on four issues: parents' perceptions of school effectiveness and student
outcomes; parents' perceptions of the effectiveness of primary and secondary sections of
district high schools; organisational arrangements of schools and parents' perceptions of
school effectiveness; accountability procedures from the client's perspective.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Schools, Educational evaluation
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1996 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Includes bibliographical references. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania at Launceston, 1996

Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2014 00:01
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:55
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