Kay YorkFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Michelle J Barthlow


Academic Achievement, Organizational Climate, Proficiency-Based Education, School Climate, Standards-Based Education


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership | Educational Methods | Other Education


his quantitative, causal comparative study sought to determine if proficiency-based education has an effect on school climate. With sweeping school reform across the United States, educators are seeking ways to improve student achievement and maintain a positive school climate. This study consisted of 87 teachers in proficiency-based high schools and 125 teachers in non-proficiency-based high schools in New England who were emailed the Secondary School Climate Assessment Instrument (SCAI-S-G). Data analysis consisted of descriptive statistics computed for each teacher group through SPSS. SPSS was also used to conduct separate t tests for each of the eight domains of the SCAI-S-G in order to compare the two groups. Assumption testing was carried out with the Kolmogorov-Smirnov and the Wilks-Shapiro tests. Assumptions of normality were not tenable, therefore, the Mann-Whitney U was run for each of the eight domains of the SCAI-S-G in order to compare the two groups. In order to limit the risk of type I error with multiple tests run, a Bonferroni correction was used. The following research question was examined: Is there a difference between the teachers’ assessments of school climate in a proficiency-based high school and the teachers’ assessments of school climate in a non-proficiency-based high school on the eight categories measured by the SCAI-S-G? It was found that there was a statistical difference in four domains of school climate with non-proficiency-based schools showing a slightly higher score than proficiency-based schools for physical environment, student interactions, attitude and culture and community relations. There was no statistically significant difference between non-proficiency-based schools and proficiency-based schools in the domains of faculty relations, leadership and decisions, discipline and learning and assessment. While these results were surprising, in light of the components of the proficiency-based model that encompass student-centered learning, relationships and autonomy, the information is useful for schools as they strive to build a positive school climate in the midst of educational change. Recommendations for further research could include: to find out if there is correlation between the types of leadership in the schools and school climate in proficiency-based and non-proficiency-based schools, the area of school climate and student outcomes, conducting research through the lens of the student and parent population with school climate and proficiency-based and non-proficiency-based education, and research on the impact of self-actualization linked to student success within the proficiency-based model.