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Gender matters : an investigation of the factors influencing mothers' and fathers' grading of public school performance. Warrington, Charlene Gay


This study set out to examine the relative influence of personal and school-based characteristics and parental involvement on mothers’ and fathers’ perceptions of public school performance. A national and representative sample of parents of school-aged children (N= 2008) were asked to award a grade (A, B, C, D or F) to their community school. There is a significant lack of empirical study of the factors influencing parents’ perceptions of school performance. The present study controlled for the socioeconomic status of parents and the community school being graded. Parental involvement in schools and assisting with homework are elements of parents’ relations with schools and were controlled for in the multivariate analysis. It was found that mothers and fathers are differentially influenced by personal and school-based characteristics; and, of import, there is a negative and significant association between participation in school-based activities and a father’s perception of school performance. The opposite association with participation in school-based activities was observed for mothers. Further, perceptions of “Failing” schools are influenced to a greater extent by the socioeconomic status of the parent and of the school. The results are interpreted by gendering the relations between parents and schools, and drawing from feminist standpoint theory. Particular focus is brought to the discordant association of parental involvement and the grades awarded to schools by mothers and fathers.

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