Perceptions of Pacific Children's Academic Performance at Age 6 Years: A Multi-informant Agreement Study

Kim, HM
McNeill, B
Everatt, J
Taleni, LT
Tautolo, ES
Gillon, G
Schluter, PJ
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Journal Article
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Public Library of Science (PLoS)

Purpose In New Zealand, Pacific immigrants are among the fastest growing ethnic minorities but, as a group, they are also at most risk of not realising their literacy and educational aspirations critical for achieving their human potential and wellbeing. This may be due, in part, to a misalignment in the shared understanding of academic success between students, parents and their teachers within largely non-Pacific school environments. This study aims to report levels of agreement in child-mother, child-teacher, and mother-teacher perceptions of Pacific children’s academic performance at age 6 years.

Method A cohort of Pacific infants born during 2000 in Auckland, New Zealand, was followed as part of the Pacific Islands Families study. Maternal home interviews were conducted at 6-weeks and 6-years postpartum, together with separate child and teacher elicitations at 6-years. Pairwise agreement of academic performance responses was assessed using Cohen’s weighted κ statistic, along with symmetry and marginal homogeneity tests.

Results At 6-years, information was available for 1,001 children and their mothers, and teachers’ evaluations for 549 children. Negligible to slight agreements and significant asymmetry were found between the child-mother (κ = 0.03, 95% CI: -0.03, 0.09), child-teacher (κ = 0.04, 95% CI: 0.01, 0.08), and mother-teacher (κ = 0.07, 95% CI: 0.03, 0.11) pairwise assessments–with children and mothers more likely to rate Pacific children’s academic performance higher than their teachers. Significantly higher concordances with teacher assessments were found among mothers with post-secondary education, proficiency in English, and stronger alignment with New Zealand culture and for children who performed strongly on a standardised measure of performance relative to their peers.

Conclusion Strategies are needed to align Pacific students’ and parental perceptions with documented educational achievement outcomes and to facilitate more effective and timely feedback on achievement results and home-school communication. The importance of removing language, cultural and socio-economic barriers to achieving shared understanding of academic performance between teachers and families is highlighted.

PLoS ONE 15(10): e0240901.
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© 2020 Kim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.