Parents’ perceptions of academic issues in composite classes

Author

Linley Cornish

 

In a mixed-methods study, parents of children in a large regional Australian primary school were surveyed to ascertain their perceptions of and concerns about composite classes. Factor analysis revealed five factors perceived as relevant by the parents: Knowledge-experience of composite classes, their child’s holistic Development (academic and social), grade Identity, and being in either the Younger or Older grade of the class. Path analysis identified three significant relationships between the factors. Descriptive and qualitative analyses shed light on how and why parents perceived these relationships as significant. In this article, I concentrate primarily on one conclusion from the literature review: Parents have a holistic concern for their child’s development in a composite class; that is, they have both academic and social concerns which are at least in part related to age and grade. Specifically, I discuss parents’ perceptions and concerns related to academic progress in a composite class. While they were not directly asked about the suitability of such classes for gifted students, in their written comments parents expressed definite views about composite classes, appropriate curriculum and the effect on academic progress of being in the younger or older grade of a composite class.

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Keywords: composite classes, parent perceptions, academic concerns, social concerns