Comparative Study of Private and Public Schools Student Engagement and School Effectiveness Indicators

Article excerpt

Abstract

The expectation of government and tax payers increasingly expect the school system to report on a range of predetermined indicators designed to measure aspects of student engagement and school effectiveness. Despite this the utility and validity of indicators that make up the public accountability of schools is seldom questioned. Student perceptions of school engagement (i.e., sense of connection to school, teachers and peers), motivation to learn, self-esteem, and student safety are part of a range of public accountability indicators. This study examined differences between two groups of Senior Secondary three (SS III) students from public school (n1 = 90) and private school (n2 = 90) on a number of these accountability indicators. No significant differences were found between public and private schools on student connectedness to peers and school. However the differences in public and private school students' perception of connectedness to teachers, measures of motivation to learn, self-esteem and student safety is significant. The finding from this study proves the suitability of these indicators as measures of student engagement and school effectiveness in Nigeria, but there is the need for further study that would involve more schools from more states.

Introduction

Educational system all over the world is increasingly making schools to be accountable to the taxpayers. The school is expected to provide necessary information on the performance of the school so that the public can compare the effectiveness of the school with external criteria. As a result, series of mandatory indicators have being developed by the school system to take care of the psychosocial and academic domains. It is thus expected of the school to collect and analyse relevant data on predetermined domains and make available the findings to necessary educational agencies and the public. Such reported findings are expected to form the basis for future school planning and for improvement purpose. Wyatt and Ruby (1988) reviewed a number of different strategies used to construct indicators of school effectiveness, these includes comparison of against standards, comparison of actual against expected scores, data envelope analysis, gain score and cluster analysis.

Researches have shown that psychosocial factors, especially those that are related to students' school engagement play important roles in the learning process. According to Finn (1993) students' school engagement has two basic components known as behavioural and emotional, they may as well be referred to as participation and identification respectively. Most often, school engagement has been primarily measured by observable behaviours directly related to academic effort and achievement (Sinclair, Christenson, E velo, & Hurley, 1998). Indicators of students' school engagement that are relatively commonly noticed in literature include participation in school- related activities, achievement of high grades, amount of time spent on homework, and rate of homework completion. Beyond these researched measures of school engagement, definitions of engagement also include affective and cognitive elements (e.g., perceptions of the connectedness to school, teachers and peers, motivation to learn, self-esteem, and student safety).

Osterman, (2000) opined that, positive school environment is a significant factor in determining students' sense of belonging and satisfaction. It is thus, expected that students who feel connected with the school are more motivated to achieve academically and less motivated to engage in anti- social behaviour than students who feel disconnected from it. Resnick, Bearman, Blum, Bauman, Harris, Jones, Tabor, Beuhring, Sieving, Shew, Ireland, Bearinger & Udry (1997) concluded that school connectedness factors such as engagement in school activities, feeling part of the school, and feeling teachers treated students fairly, were protective against nearly every health risk behaviour (e. …