Challenges to student engagement and school effectiveness indicators

Year: 2005

Author: Cunningham, Everarda, Wang, Wei Chun, Bishop, Nicole

Type of paper: Refereed paper

School systems are increasingly required to report on a range of pre-determined indicators designed to measure aspects of student engagement and school effectiveness. However the utility and validity of indicators that form part of the public accountability of schools is rarely questioned. In Victoria, Australia, 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 cohorts of Year 9 female students from socio-economically low (n1 = 99) and high (n2 = 97) resourced schools on a number of these accountability indicators. Contrary to expectations, no significant differences were found between low and high resourced schools on student engagement measures or measures of motivation to learn or self-esteem. The only significant finding was that females from the high-resourced school reported higher levels of student safety (i.e., fewer bullying behaviours) than females from the low-resourced school. The findings from this study raise questions about the suitability of these indicators as measures of student engagement and school effectiveness.