Karl A. Pilar

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson, EdD, Chairman

Committee Member

James Berry, EdD

Committee Member

Nelson Maylone, EdD


The American high school is on the verge of a reform movement like that seen in American middle schools throughout the early and mid-1990s. In 1996 the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) released its recommendations for reform in the study Breaking Ranks: Changing an American Institution. Among these are recommendations that call for high schools to become smaller, less bureaucratic, and more responsive to student needs, where students feel a sense of belonging. Hoy and Miskel (2001) defined school climate as a “relatively enduring quality of the school’s environment that is experienced by participants, affects their behavior, is based on their collective perceptions of behavior in schools” (p. 190).

The purpose of this study was to determine what relationship existed between the implementation of the Breaking Ranks recommendations and school climate. Principals of Michigan high schools of similar size and geography were asked to respond to a survey indicating the level of implementation of the Breaking Ranks recommendations on Personalization and Relationships in their high schools. To assess perceptions of school climate, staff members from these schools were asked to respond to the Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire for Secondary Schools (OCDQ-RS). A Spearman correlation between the level of implementation and the climate of the school was analyzed. The results indicated that while all of the Breaking Ranks recommendations and most of the strategies have been implemented to varying degrees in high schools, there is only a moderately strong relationship between implementation of the recommendations and strategies and school climate items related to principal qualities, teacher/principal relations, and teacher/student relations.


Additional committee member: Jaclynn Tracy, PhD

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