Parents’ and caregivers’ perceptions of the school climate: development and validation of the Parent and Caregiver Survey (PaCS)
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School climates are known to be associated with a range of student outcomes (including academic, social, behavioural and affective), and much work to date has focused on gathering students’ perceptions of their school climate to inform ongoing improvement efforts. However, parents and caregivers, as well as students, are also influenced by the psychosocial school climate. Although less attention has been given to capturing parents’ and caregivers’ perceptions, the way parents and caregivers feel about a school can affect their children’s attitudes towards the school as well as the parents’ and caregivers’ engagement with the school. Therefore, the perceptions of parents and caregivers with respect to the school climate offer critical information about both strengths and areas for improvement in terms of ensuring that schools are places that foster students’ wellbeing and achievement. In this article, we report the development and validation of the Parent and Caregiver Survey (PaCS) for gathering parents’ and caregivers’ perceptions of the socioemotional school climate. The PaCS is underpinned by strength-based and culturally-responsive perspectives on parent and caregiver engagement, as well as a socioecological perspective of child and adolescent development. Responses to the PaCS from 1276 parents and caregivers at 23 Australian schools confirmed the validity and reliability of the instrument. Given its theoretical underpinnings and successful validation, the PaCS could be useful for researchers and practitioners seeking to support parent engagement and school improvement.
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