TOWARD A CRITICAL RESEARCH AGENDA OF SCHOOL CHOICE GLOBALLY
Emory University, United States of America
This paper uses the critical Political-Cultural Model (PCM) and its five analytical domains to set a research agenda for school choice inquiry globally. Healy (under review, Social Problems) presents the tenets of PCM for the empirical study of choice within modern schooling systems at the primary and secondary level. The model has global utility but importantly pays attention to national particularities. PCM views school choice as dimensional, a combination of processes and criteria. The analytical domains are fields of institutional and family activity in which school choice is observable, manifested in local arenas, capital, networks, complicity, and contingency. This agenda calls for empirical research that digs deeper than most present school choice inquiry. More specifically, this paper invites critical inquiry to be directed onto the political and cultural frames that shape public policy and educational practices within particular national cases and the subsequent effect on institutions and families within those national policies and practices. On a global level, that would shift research to how those frames vary across societies and onto the societal effects on social integration and educational equity that then emerge from the respective frames in regard to institutions and families.
THE COVID-19 SCHOOL CLOSURE AND MATH LEARNING INEQUALI-TIES IN PRIMARY SCHOOL IN THE TORINO PROVINCE (MATGAP)
1Università degli studi di Torino, Italy; 2Università degli studi di Trento, Italy
The aim of the project is to measure the effect of the Covid-19 school closures on math skills, with special attention to those children with a disadvantaged background. We decide to focus on the loss on competencies in math since there is evidence that time spent in school reduces inequalities particularly in math (Battistin and Meroni 2016, Marcotte 2007), and to take advantage of the data, and experiences gained from a previous project implemented in 25 schools in Turin province (Tackling the Gender Gap in Mathematics in Torino Province, GGM, Di Tommaso et al. 2020).
To perform the empirical analysis we use data collected by the researchers and data from INVALSI datasets regarding two sample of pupils: the first, named “pre-Covid cohort”, is composed of all children participating in the GGM project, who were in grade 3 during school year 2018-19 (n = 1,000 children); the second one, named “Covid cohort”, is composed of all children in the same schools who were in grade 3 during school year 2019-20 (n = 1,100 children) who have been exposed to distance learning instead of traditional school from February 2020 until the end of the school year.
Hence, we estimate the following model:
where Y1ikj is the MATGAP standardized math test set by child i of cohort k in school j at about age 8; Tkj is a dummy variable equal to 1 if the child belongs to the Covid-cohort, 0 otherwise; Y0ikj is the INVALSI standardized math test set by children at about age 7, namely at the end of grade 2; Xikj is a vector of sociodemographic variables (age, gender, migratory background, parental education and profession); Dj is a vector of school dummies (i.e. school fixed-effects); eikj are stochastic errors normally distributed and clustered at the class level.
The outcome variable, the MATGAP test, is a standardised test on math skills designed by the research team as part of the GGM project. It has been designed to be comparable with the INVALSI standardized test in grade 2 and validated by an external expert. The pre-Covid cohort performed it at the end of grade 3 (May 2019), while the Covid cohort has performed it at the beginning of grade 4 (October 2020) because of the COVID-related school closure during Spring 2020.
The impact of Covid-school closure on math competencies is instead identified by the coefficient β1 which captures the causal effect of belonging to the Covid-cohort. Moreover, by including in the model the interactions between the variable that identifies the Covid-cohort and sociodemographic variables, we investigate if and how educational inequality has changed.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study in Italy which aims at measuring the effect of school closure in school year 2019-20 on learning losses, using standardised math test results. This assessment is a necessary pre-requisite for designing an effective intervention to mitigate possible losses in math competency.
 At the time of writing, we are collecting all the needed data.
COMMUNITY EDUCATIONAL PACTS AS A TOOL TO STRENGTHEN CO-RESPONSIBILITY AND PROMOTE EQUITY IN THE ITALIAN SCHOOL SYSTEM
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected almost seven million primary and secondary school pupils in Italy. According to recent estimates of the National Institute of Statistics (Istat, 2021), since the outbreak of the health crisis, absolute poverty among young people has increased more quickly than among the elderly. This is mainly due to the fact that economic, social and educational poverty appear interconnected, and is particularly alarming considering the already critical situation which characterises the educational landscape in Italy. School closure, and the technological acceleration that has inevitably come along with the introduction of distance learning solutions, has made existing inequalities worse and has given rise to new ones, between those who can cope with an emergency situation and those who cannot. As well as inequality in access to technological devices, it is also increasingly evident that children living in families with a higher level of education are better equipped to cope with distance learning when compared to less educated families. Considering the average low level of adult skills in Italy (OECD, 2019), it is evident that a large number of parents may not have the adequate skills to give their children the necessary educational support during school closure.
In this context, the Ministry of Education has underlined the crucial role that Community Educational Pacts can play in fostering concrete models of open, cohesive and inclusive schooling supported by the active involvement of citizens and their communities. This study analyses the theoretical foundations of these initiatives, based on the principles of subsidiarity and education co-responsibility, and the characteristics of their application. Pedagogical reflection on educational co-responsibility is of particular importance in this regard since it underlines the need to rethink the relationship between the different educational agencies, notably between the school and the family, in a systemic perspective and with a view to mutual valuing in order to achieve greater consolidation within the educational community (Pati, 2019). By reviewing the experiments already taking place in different parts of Italy, this research explores the extent to which community and family alliances can promote structural change to address the challenges which concern the Italian school system, especially those relating to poor quality education and the increasing number of early school leavers. The analysis will help identify such factors and conditions that can either facilitate or hinder the achievement of these initiatives. This is particularly relevant as the opening up of the school system to territorial alliances is no longer considered strictly related to the Covid-19 emergency but is seen as a necessary pedagogical response to new social and cultural issues.
Istat, (2021), Nel 2020 un milione di persone in più in povertà assoluta, Statistiche Today, 4 marzo 2021, Roma, Istituto nazionale di Statistica, https://www.istat.it/it/files//2021/03/STAT_TODAY_stime-preliminari-2020-pov-assoluta_spese.pdf. Accessed on 30 March 2021.
OECD, (2019), Skills Matter Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, OECD Skills Studies, Paris, OECD, https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/skills-matter_9789264258051-en. Accessed on 30 March 2021.
Pati, L. (2019), Scuola e famiglia. Relazione e corresponsabilità educativa, Brescia, Scholè.
REFRAMING PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT FOR SCHOOL SELF-EVALUATION AND IMPROVEMENT WITH EPSTEIN'S MODEL
Parental involvement for increasing the success of all students in school is a multi-dimensional concept, that considers both school-based practices, such as communicating strategies and parents’ participation in school decision-making, and home-based behaviours, such as supporting students’ learning at home (Epstein 2001). According to Goodall & Mongomery (2014), schools should move along a continuum from parental involvement with school to parental engagement with learning and should reinforce parents’ agency to act in relation to their children’ learning.
The Covid-19 health emergency and the related school closure have given parents greater responsibility for learning (Fiore, 2021), and parental involvement has centred more on children’s learning and needs, as confirmed by recent surveys that have collected parental views on distance learning (Capogna et al. 2021, Garbe et al. 2020).
The national format provided by INVALSI for school self-evaluation (SSE), requires examining – among other aspects - the strengths and weaknesses of the school-parents relationship. The objective of this study, within the PON Valu.E project, is to analyse and classify school-family relationships in the SSE reports by applying Epstein’s model, in order to observe which forms of parental involvement are identified as strengths and weakness.
We examined the school self-evaluation reports (RAV’s) in a sample of 725 Italian schools, focusing on the section Families’ Involvement. Using an integrated lexicometric-hermeneutic approach (Poliandri et al. 2019), supported by the software WordStat, we have created two thematic vocabularies (one for strengths, the other for weakness) that describe the main topics in the texts (coverage >80%).
The key themes emerging from the analysis are related to digital communication strategies with parents, parents’ participation in governing bodies, and parents’ participation in school events. These topics can be related to Epstein’ general categories of Communicating, Volunteering, Decision Making, and Collaborating with the community. Epstein's categories of Parenting and Learning at home remain excluded from the discourse of schools and from the SSE model. Instead, these categories became central with the pandemic and it might be important to include them in SSE format. It would be necessary to reflect on how schools could support parental engagement in children’s learning in the future, and through which indicators they could monitoring this process.
Epstein, J. (2011). School, Families, and Community Partnerships. Preparing Educators and Improving Schools. 2nd ed. Routledge.
Fiore, B. (2021). La relazione tra famiglie e scuola. Carocci.
Goodall, J., Mongomery, C. (2014). Parental involvement to parental engagement: a continuum. Educational Review, 66:4, 399-410.
Poliandri D., Favazzi U., Perazzolo M., Quadrelli I, Vinci E. (2019). Le parole del RAV. L’analisi testuale per la metavalutazione. https://www.invalsi.it/value/valueforrav.php
Garbe, A., Ogurlu, U., Logan, N., & Cook, P. (2020). COVID-19 and remote learning: Experiences of parents with children during the pandemic. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 4(3), 45-65.
Capogna, S. De Angelis, C., Musella, F. & Cianfriglia, L. (2021). La didattica a distanza durante l’emergenza: “voci dal campo”. In Roncaglia et al. (2021). L’educazione e la distanza: le risposte della scuola e il ruolo delle biblioteche scolastiche. Biblioteche oggi Trends, 6(2), 110-134.
FAMILY-SCHOOL RELATIONSHIP IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. A COMPARISON BETWEEN ITALY AND GERMANY BEFORE AND AFTER COVID19
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy
Parental involvement in children’s education is widely acknowledged as a source of benefits for academic achievement, as well as a driver of educational inequalities, being part of what Annette Lareau called the “home advantage”. However, the findings of a huge interdisciplinary literature show different levels of association between parent engagement and student outcomes, according to a variety of practices, settings and developmental stages of students.
Recently, especially due to the contribution of Joyce Epstein, we have witnessed to a reconceptualization of the topic, which suggests to focus on family-school partnership as a more comprehensive notion that could better grasp the conditions of children’s general development as well as of educational paths and outcomes.
In the framework of PISA survey, a number of countries and economies has administered an optional questionnaire addressed to parents, which seeks information about parent’s background and attitudes as well as on parental involvement in children’s education, both at home and in the school context. Data from Parent Questionnaire turn out to be very useful in order to investigate the broader field of the relationships between families and schools; moreover, in this regard, data can be complemented with information coming from the school questionnaire.
On the basis of PISA 2018 Parent Questionnaire data, the aim of this paper is to develop a comparative analysis of family-school relationships in Italy and in Germany. The focus will be placed especially on issues like parental perceptions and evaluations of their children’s schools, on the barriers to parental involvement in schooling and on the actual practices of interaction between parents and school personnel and settings. The analysis will take into account student’s gender and migratory background, as well as family socio-economic status. Distinctive features of family-school partnership in the two countries will be examined with reference to different parenting cultures and to the specific national educational system.
In the end, I will propose some reflections on the ongoing validity of the scenario outlined by PISA 2018 data, in the new context of relationships between schools and families originated by Covid19 pandemic. I will highlight evidence of a new arrangement of the connections between educational agencies as well as the new forms of educational inequalities brought to light by school closure and distance education.parental involvement, family-school partnership, PISA, educational inequalities, Covid19
ROMA STUDENTS: THE FORGOTTEN VICTIMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS
University of Bologna, Italy
The social groups most exposed to the consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic and at risk of being forgotten victims of the coronavirus due to their marginalised situation and discrimination prior to the pandemic, are Roma and Sinti populations.
Low education levels, widespread illiteracy among Roma communities together with racism in its various forms are the main obstacles that impact access to the job market, the use of services and active participation in public life. This discrimination is amplified among children that grow up in particularly fragile social conditions and with a very wide range of unmet rights. Among them, the right to education is still a challenge for many countries in the EU. The data available before Covid-19 reflect this reality, indicating low rates of enrolment in schools of all levels, high ‘wastage’ and early-leaver rates, and limited access to services and educational activities outside of school. But the quality and quantity of Roma school attendance and performance are often influenced by the educational strategies and teaching models implemented in schools and by school organization: whether adopted deliberately or not, models and strategies and organization showed how they can either promote or discourage success and inclusion of Roma children in school. At the same time the kind of relationship between teachers and family influences the reciprocal social representations and the prospect of students school attendance. This is most true in times of pandemic where the situation of discrimination experienced for years has increased, making families, especially those still living in camps, even more vulnerable and lacking correct health information. The crisis in the labour market, especially the informal one, on which much of the income of Roma and Sinti families is based, has increased poverty and the inability of families to meet their basic needs. Dad has affected the possibility of learning for many Roma students. For many students, it wasn't possible to follow the lessons due to the lack of IT tools, internet connection and also a suitable environment (they share very small spaces with other family members). For others, the families, frightened by what was happening, left their usual residence to join relatives in other cities or return to their countries.
Although it will be difficult to obtain reliable data on the impact of lockdown on the attendance of Roma students, it is possible to reflect on the data available on individual projects. These include the National Project for the Inclusion and Integration of RSC Children, promoted by the Ministry of Social Policy in collaboration with Ministry of Education which provides important suggestions to promote the inclusion of Roma students again.
FRA - European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. (2017). Fundamental Rights Report 2017 Luxembourg: Publications Office of the EU
Tagliaventi M.T, Casa-Nova M.J, Moreira M.A. (eds), School Education, Minorities and Life Opportunities. Roma Inclusive School Experiences, Braga, EDIÇÕES HÚMUS
Tagliaventi M.T., Poorest of all: a case study of Roma children in Italy. In Children's lives in southern Europe. Contemporary Challenges and Risks, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing
ERASMUS + PROJECT PARENTABLE. COMMUNICATING WITH PARENTS OF NEWLY MIGRATED CHILDREN
Doctoral School Politic, Culture and Development, University of Calabria, Italia
The Erasmus Plus project PARENTable runs between 2019 and 2022 in Germany, Italy, Sweden and Turkey. It is about communicating with parents of newly migrated children in Europe and aims to build bridges between those children’s families and schools. For this purpose, we propose to bring parents and teachers together in five workshops.
In this work I would like to present the project, the training concept we will use in the workshops and above all show some partial results of our background research related to how school-family communication changes within pandemic situation and distance learning, comparing the different national contexts. Methodology bases on the analysis of semi-structured qualitative interviews carried out in the four above-mentioned locations in the pandemic period and consequently within the period in which schools provided distance learning. I intend to describe and analyse the experience of distance learning lived by pupils with a migrant background, seen through the eyes of parents who had to support them and to highlights if there is a technological gap between migrant pupils and their native peers