Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Kelly D. Bradley

Second Advisor

Dr. R. Joseph Waddington


The United States government has growingly emphasized school climate, as it has been involved as an accountability indicator in the Every Student Succeeds Act. However, there remains considerable debate on both conceptualizing and measuring school climate. Moreover, teachers, a critical informant of school climate, have been ignored because most previous studies have paid attention to the students.

To better inform the research and practice related to the teacher perceptions of school climate and its measurement, this dissertation first identified the related instruments in the literature. The results showed only one survey measured three domains of school climate (academic climate, community, and institutional environment). However, it is too long to complete in a short time. Moreover, validity assessment was not sufficient in most previous measures, especially at the item level. Thus, the second goal of this study was to construct a more parsimonious but psychometrically sound new scale.

Drawing upon the insights from previous instruments, this study used items from across School Effectiveness in Indiana survey, and constructed a 30-item scale called Indiana School Climate (ISC) to measure teachers’ views of school climate. Its psychometric properties were examined by employing Principal Component Analysis of residuals and Rasch Partial Credit Model (PCM) to assess the responses from 5399 teachers in primary and secondary schools in Indiana state. The results showed the revised ISC survey containing 25 items met the requirement of PCM and presented sound psychometric properties.

Differential Item Functioning (DIF) analyses were conducted to determine whether items are biased in some manner with respect to sex (males vs. females), race (White vs. non-White), and school type (public vs. private). DIF Results showed the revised ISC survey did not measure in a significantly different manner across sex and race, but further analyses should be conducted when using the scale across school types because seven of 25 items presented DIF.

This dissertation has several contributions. First, it magnified teachers’ voices. Although teachers are the second largest group in a school, scholars have paid varying degrees of attention to their attitudes towards school climate. Moreover, this study constructed a parsimonious, but psychometrically sound scale to measure teacher perceptions of school climate, which is time effective for schools and educators to use. Third, validity assessment was not sufficient in most identified scales, especially at the item level. This study is novel in applying Rasch PCM to examine not only the performance of the whole scale, but also the performance of each item. Fifth, item measure indicated that teachers have been meeting more challenges from the institutional environment of a school than its academic activity, which provided specific guidance on how to improve school climate from the teacher perceptive. Finally, the process of constructing ISC informed the measurement filed and legislation. Limitations and future research were discussed in the last section.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)