School Climate in the School Choice Era: A Comparative Analysis of District-Run Public Schools and Charter Schools

Christopher Duszka, Florida International University


Comparative analyses of district-run public schools and charter schools are limited to performance outcomes. There is a dearth of research on how the school-types vary on factors consequential to performance such as school climate. Public-private distinctions, such as in organizational autonomy, value orientations, funding structures, and management practices, could result in school climate dissimilarities between district-run public schools and charter schools. The aim of this dissertation is to assess the influence organizational factors have on school climate and determine if school-type affects school climate. Student and staff school climate survey data from the Miami-Dade school district were utilized for this dissertation. Structural equation modeling was employed to test theoretical models of students’ and staffs’ perceptions of school climate using data from 2001-2002 through 2015-2016 academic years. Within-between effects panel regression was utilized to test the effect of school-type on school climate constructs over time using data from 2005-2006 through 2015-2016 academic years. The structural equation results demonstrate that milieu, ecology, culture, and organizational structure influence students’ and staffs’ perceptions of their schools’ climates. Ecology has the strongest association with students’ perceptions of school climate. Job satisfaction, a part of milieu and culture, has the strongest association with staffs’ perceptions of school climate. The results indicate that the theoretical models of school climate employed by this study are sound. The within-between effects panel regression results demonstrate that characteristics inherent to school-type have a plausible influence on students’ perceptions of school climate, but not for staff. Charter school students rated their school climates more favorably than traditional public schools, but when other factors are controlled, traditional public schools and magnet schools had more favorable ratings. Public-sector values, collective bargaining, and school district oversight may be beneficial to schools’ climates. This dissertation underscores the impact management and funding structures have on school climate. The author recommends that the school climate concept and evaluations of schools’ organizational practices be incorporated into school improvement policies. The milieu, culture, ecology, and organizational structures of schools should be reviewed when assessing school quality.

Subject Area

Educational administration|Educational evaluation|Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

Duszka, Christopher, "School Climate in the School Choice Era: A Comparative Analysis of District-Run Public Schools and Charter Schools" (2018). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI27736471.