Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Opinions of the Irish Public on the Availability of Information About Schools

This is a topic that Kevin has commented on before (the availability of information, not the opinions). He has mentioned that "when league tables are discussed in an education context it usually refers to comparisons of schools based on exam results... but such tables (real ones) would at least refer to outputs and could, with a little work, be made into a Value Added measure." Why keep parents in the dark about one of the most important decisions they will ever make?

The abstract below (also available as the third item on this link) is from a research paper from the ERC in Drumcondra, co-authored by Geary fellow Michael Daly (Irish Journal of Education: Vol. 38, 2010). It elicits the opinions of the Irish public on the availability of information about schools. The research finds substantial variation in views to be associated with socioeconomic status, "due mainly to the deviation of respondents categorized as farmers, both in their satisfaction with the current situation and in their agreement with the need to provide more information."

Thomas Kellaghan and Michael Daly
Educational Research Centre,St Patrick’s College, Dublin

In a survey of a representative sample of the Irish adult population (aged 15+ years) (n=1,511), respondents categorized by gender, age, socioeconomic level, school-leaving standard, and whether or not they had children in the education system, were asked in interview their views about the adequacy of information that schools provide to parents about how well their children are doing and about the school’s performance in general. They were then asked if they agreed with a series of statements relating to making information about schools available in the following forms: an annual report on a school’s performance, inspectors’ evaluation reports, rates of absenteeism, dropout rates, literacy and numeracy achievements of students (primary schools), public examination results (secondary schools), number of students who go to third-level education (secondary schools), and students’ improvement in achievement while in school (secondary schools). All categories of respondent exhibited differences in the percentage agreeing with some statements. The greatest variation in views was associated with the socioeconomic status of respondents, due mainly to the deviation of respondents categorized as farmers, both in their satisfaction with the current situation and in their agreement with the need to provide more information. Respondents who were still in the education system (and respondents in the youngest age category) indicated the greatest satisfaction with the information currently available and were less likely to agree that there was need for a greater amount of information.


Kevin Denny said...

The abstract isn't very informative. What I would like to know is what % are in favour of more information, or are happy with the situation.
I don't know if this is the same data collected some years back by the ERC for the Department of Education on the topic: it showed overwhelmingly that parents wanted to know exam results for schools.

Martin Ryan said...

I couldn't get my hands on the paper through UCD Library, or by my efforts googling. I'll ask Michael if he can provide us with a pre-publication draft.

Michael Daly said...

Hi Martin, I only have an old draft of this from when I worked on it back in '06. The table that I think Kevin is interested in refers to "PERCENTAGES OF RESPONDENTS INDICATING AGREEMENT/NON-AGREEMENT THAT JUNIOR AND LEAVING CERTIFICATE RESULTS OF SECONDARY SCHOOLS SHOULD BE MADE PUBLICALLY AVAILABLE". There's 71.5% agreement with this statement, 23.6% disagree, and 4.9% are unsure/don't know. The sample is 1,511 and may well be the data Kevin has seen is another format. There's not a lot of variation in opinions based on gender, age, or occupation. A slight trend for 50+ to have a greater desire for this information than others (74.2% agree) and for those in professional/managerial occupations (75.3% agree).

Martin Ryan said...

Thanks Michael.

Kevin Denny said...

From the numbers I have seen there is indeed little variation across the population, 71% across most groups and about 5% don't knows. So why are our dear leaders so anxious to ignore the views of a clear majority?

Enda Hargaden said...

Kevin, our dear leaders ignore the views of a clear majority on a large number of topics. I think their consistency should be applauded.

Kevin Denny said...

I hadn't thought of it that way