Since 2001, PIRLS has asked parents about their perceptions of their child’s school. In 2016, PIRLS created the Parents’ Perceptions of Their Child’s School scale. The scale summarizes parents’ or caregivers’ level of agreement with statements about school academics, school safety, and schools’ efforts to include them in their child’s education. The 2016 results showed that most parents tended to be satisfied with the school their child attended, which is consistent with results from other educational surveys.51,52
A school atmosphere of high expectations for academic excellence can contribute to school success. Research has shown that there is a positive association between a school’s emphasis on academic success and academic achievement.53,54 Academic emphasis, collective efficacy in promoting academic performance, and trust among school staff, parents, and students, are indicators of academic optimism in a school, a characteristic that fosters a positive academic environment.55,56,57 Since PIRLS 2011, the School Emphasis on Academic Success scale has asked principals and teachers to characterize their school in terms of a series of teacher, parent, and student attitudes and actions that can contribute to academic success. In 2016, PIRLS expanded the scale to include more items to better capture the construct, asking principals and teachers the degree to which students respect their classmates who excel academically, and parental expectations for student achievement.
Fostering teacher job satisfaction through a favorable work environment is important in retaining qualified teachers in the classroom.58 Collaboration and support, as well as other social factors such as a positive school culture and strong principal leadership can be essential for cultivating teacher job satisfaction and retaining teachers.59,60,61 In contrast, emotional exhaustion from work stress has been found to be negatively related to teacher job satisfaction.62 PIRLS began reporting data on teacher job satisfaction in 2006 and created the PIRLS Teacher Job Satisfaction scale in 2016.
Students’ sense of school belonging, also referred to as school connectedness, has been found to contribute to their general well-being.63,64 Students with a strong sense of school belonging feel safe at school, enjoy school, and have a good relationship with teachers. The Students’ Sense of School Belonging scale was developed in PIRLS 2016, asking students to indicate the extent to which they like being in school, how much they feel they belong at the school, and whether teachers are fair to them. The 2016 results showed a positive association between school belonging and academic achievement, corroborating other research on the subject.65,66,67 PIRLS 2021 improves the scale by including whether students have friends at this school to reflect the importance of positive student relationships within the school community for students’ sense of school belonging.68,69