14 SES 15 A, Communities or Parents' Collaboration with Schools: An European Perspective
Parents' collaboration with schools is a highly important factor that affects students' academic achievement and social integration. This collaboration is particularly important for children from a disadvantaged social background since they benefit from a good partnership. There is a high level of agreement among scholars that the school climate is one of the most significant factors determining student academic achievement (Chirkina & Khavenson, 2018). Research shows that students who do not experience a positive and supportive climate will experience difficulties realising their full potential (Urban, 1999). Research also shows that a positive school climate is associated with greater academic achievement and fewer discipline problems (Freiberg, Huzinec & Templeton, 2009). Moreover, positive school climate increases students' self-esteem and contributes to better emotional (Payton et al., 2008) and mental health outcomes (Shochet et al., 2006).
A recent study (Ozgenel, 2018) found positive relationships between school climate and secondary school students' attachment to school, teachers and friends. Maxwell (2017) reports that students' perceptions of school climate significantly explain writing and numeracy achievement, and also indicate that this effect is mediated by students' psychological identification with the school. Parental involvement in collaboration with teachers and schools contributes to the development of positive academic environments in schools (Lee & Song, 2012). Parental involvement also influences not only the academic achievement of their children but impacts their emotional functioning as well (Wang & Shikh-Khalil, 2014).
This study is based on a more extensive international project that includes countries from the Americas, Europe and Asia. The project evaluates characteristics of school climate scales for students, parents and educators and cultural differences related to school climate (La Salle, T et al., under review).
Since a positive perception of school is a precondition for successful parent-school collaboration, the primary objective of this study was to examine how parents perceive different aspects of work and social relations in schools that their children attend. The purpose of this study was to gather the information that teachers and school administrators can use for planning collaborative work with parents.
There are many definitions of school climate which are based on various interpretations of this concept. For example, Cohen et al., (2009) define school climate as the "healthy or unhealthy" sphere of school life; the character and atmosphere of the school's spirit, while Zullig et al., (2010) identify five domains of school climate (order and safety, academic outcomes, social relationships, school facilities, and school connectedness). Our study has applied the similarly conceptualized Georgia Parent School Climate Survey (Wang, La Salle, Wu, Do, & Sullivan, 2018) to collect data about parents' participation in collaboration with teachers and their opinions about school climate. This scale was developed by the Georgia Department of Education under the name Georgia Parent School Climate Survey (Grades K-12) and consist of 20 questions that examine five aspects of parents' perception of school climate (Teaching and learning; School safety; Interpersonal relationships; Institutional environment; Parent involvement). Two items were used to measure parents' involvement in their children's education ('I am actively involved in activities at my son's/daughter's school and' and 'I frequently volunteer to help on special projects at my son's/daughter's school'). The participants were asked to rate their involvement on a 4-point Likert scale starting with 'strongly disagree' to 'strongly agree'. The study included 794 parents of children attending five randomly selected primary and secondary schools in Malta. Descriptive techniques were used to present the basic findings related to parents' perception of school climate. Inferential statistical techniques were applied to compare parents' perception of school climate by their basic demographic characteristics. Also, correlations and linear regression were used to determine the strength of relationships between parents' perception of school climate and their involvement in collaboration with teachers. The results demonstrate that most parents are highly satisfied with teaching and learning, school safety, and interpersonal relationships in schools that their children attend.
The study also found that parents are slightly less satisfied with the institutional environment in schools, and a relatively small number of parents reported involvement and volunteering in schools. Our study also found that parents' collaboration with teachers and school was significantly associated with their perception of teacher communication style and overall school climate. The study has identified a significant correlation between parents' active involvement in activities in their children’s school and their positive perception of teachers' communication with parents, feeling that children are treated fairly in school and that children receive recognition for good behaviour (R = .343, R2 = .118). Parents' attendance of school meetings has a significant correlation with their positive perception of the clarity of school rules, perception of well-organized classrooms, and their feeling that teachers work hard to make sure that students do well. There is also significant correlation between parents' attendance of school meetings and their comfort in communication with teachers (R = .501, R2 = .251). Involvement in volunteer activities at their children’s school was significantly correlated with variables that examine if parents feel comfortable talking to teachers, believe that teachers work hard to make sure that all students do well and think that children are recognized for good behaviour (R = .243, R2 = .059). This study is informed by Bronfenbrenner’s most recent account of his Bioecological Theory (Bronfenbrenner & Evans, 2000; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006) which proposes that an individual’s development is driven by four simultaneously interacting process, person, context and time in the individual’s immediate and extended environment. Results of this study will be discussed regarding some possible measures that can improve parent-teacher communication and their greater involvement in collaboration with schools that their children attend.
Bronfenbrenner U., & Evans, G. W. (2000). Developmental science in the 21st century. Social Development, 9(1), 15–25. Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (2006). The bioecological model of human development. In W. Damon & R. Lerner, Handbook of child psychology. (pp. 793–828). Wiley. Chirkina, T. A., & Khavenson, T. E. (2018). School Climate. Russian Education & Society, 60(2), 133–160. Cohen, J., McCabe, E., Michelli, N., & Pickeral, T. (2009). School climate. Teachers College Record, 111, 180-213. Freiberg, H. J. (1998). Measuring school climate: Let me count the ways. Educational Leadership, 56(1), 22–26. La Salle, T. P., Rocha-Neves, J. Jimerson, S. Di Sano, S. Martinsone, B., Majercakova Albertova, S., Gajdošová, E., Deltour, C., Baye, A., Hatzichristou, C., Martinelli, V,. Raykov, M., Palikara, O., Szabó, É., Arlauskaite, Z., Athanasiou, D.Brown-Earle, O.Casale, G., Lampropoulou, A. & Mikhailova, A. (Under review). A Multi-National Study Exploring Adolescent Perceptions of School Climate and Mental Health Problems. Lee, C. H., & Song, J. (2012). Functions of parental involvement and effects of school climate on bullying behaviors among South Korean middle school students. Journal of interpersonal violence, 27(12), 2437-2464. Maxwell, S. et al. (2017). The Impact of School Climate and School Identification on Academic Achievement: Multilevel Modeling with Student and Teacher Data. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. Ozgenel, M., Caliskan Yilmaz, F. & Baydar, F. (2018). School Climate as a Predictor of Secondary School Students’ School Attachment. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 78, 87-116. Payton, J. et al. (2008). The positive impact of social and emotional learning for kindergarten to eighth-grade students: Findings from three scientific reviews. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Shochet, I. M., Dadds, M. R., Ham, D., & Montague, R. (2006). School connectedness is an underemphasized parameter in adolescent mental health: Results of a community prediction study. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 35, 170–179. Urban, V. (1999). Eugene’s story: A case for caring. Educational Leadership, 56(6), 69–70. Wang, C. et al. (2018). School climate and parental involvement buffer the risk of peer victimization on suicidal thoughts and behaviors among Asian American middle school students. Asian American journal of psychology, 9(4), 296. Wang, M. T., & Sheikh-Khalil, S. (2014). Does parental involvement matter for student achievement and mental health in high school? Child Development, 85(2), 610–625. Zullig, K. J. et al. (2010). School climate: Historical review, instrument development, and school assessment. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 28(2), 139–152.
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