Academic journal article High School Journal

The Development of the Organizational Climate Index for High Schools: Its Measure and Relationship to Faculty Trust

Academic journal article High School Journal

The Development of the Organizational Climate Index for High Schools: Its Measure and Relationship to Faculty Trust

Article excerpt

A parsimonious measure of organizational climate of high schools is developed and tested in this research. The Organizational Climate Index (OCI) captures open and healthy dimensions of high school climates at the student, teacher, principal, and community levels. Next the relationship between the climate of schools and faculty trust is examined in a large, diverse sample of high schools (N=97). Different dimensions of high school climate explain distinct aspects of faculty trust-faculty trust in colleagues, in principals, and in clients (students and parents).


The organizational climate of schools has been conceived and measured in a variety of ways. Halpin and Croft (1963) were early pioneers in the study of school climate; they developed the Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire (OCDQ), which provided a framework and measure of school climate for decades. School climate is a general concept that captures the atmosphere of a school: it is experienced by teachers and administrators, describes their collective perceptions of routine behavior, and affects their attitudes and behavior in the school (Hoy & Miskel, 2001). Halpin and Croft's (1963) work focused exclusively on the climate of elementary schools, but it remained to others to extend the concept to high schools (Hoy & Feldman, 1987, 1999; Hoy, Tarter, & Kottkamp, 1991). The purpose of this analysis is twofold: first to develop a parsimonious perspective and measure of high school climate that incorporates extant frameworks, and second, to explore the relationship between organizational climate and faculty trust in high schools.

Two Perspectives on Organizational Climate: Openness and Health

A number of instruments has been developed to view the organizational climate of schools (Pace & Stern, 1958; Halpin & Croft, 1963; Stern, 1970; Hoy, Tarter, & Kottkamp, 1991). Two contemporary frameworks for studying school climate use the metaphors of personality and health.

Openness of Organizational Climate

Perhaps the most well-known conceptualization of school climate emanates from the work of Halpin and Croft (1963). They described organizational climate as the "personality" of the school and conceptualized it along a continuum from open to closed, much the same way that Milton Rokeach (1960) depicted the open and closed belief systems of individual personalities. The open school climate is one in which behavior of both teachers and principals is authentic; teachers and principals respect one another and are "straight" with each other. Acts of leadership emerge easily and appropriately as needed from both groups. The open school is neither preoccupied with task achievement nor need gratification, but both emerge freely.

Health of Organizational Climate

Organizational health is another perspective for examining school climate. The idea of positive and healthy relations in organizations is not new. Miles (1969) was first to define a healthy organization as one that "not only survives in its environment, but continues to cope adequately over the long haul, and continuously develops and expands its coping abilities" (p. 378). It remained, however, to Hoy and Feldman (1987) to frame and measure the concept of organizational health. A healthy school climate is imbued with positive student, teacher, and administrator interrelationships. Teachers like their colleagues, their school, their job, and their students and they are driven by a quest for academic excellence. They believe in themselves and their students; and set high, but achievable goals. Students work hard and respect others who do well academically. Principal behavior is also positive; that is, it is friendly and supportive. Principals have high expectations for teachers and go out of their way to help teachers. Healthy schools have good relationships with the community. In brief, the interpersonal dynamics of the school are positive. …

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