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

posted on 2023-05-27, 00:25 authored by Ewington, John H
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.


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  • Unpublished

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

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