Measuring student involvement and participation in decision-making in public schools

Richard Gary Shear, Fordham University


In the flurry to reform America's schools scholars and educators consulted a myriad of groups seeking to rescue a system entrenched in mediocrity. As a cadre of experts were offering their insights on the crisis in education, America's students were being systematically overlooked and disconnected from the school-restructuring process. As a politically weak constituency, students have been powerless to effect even slight change in issues of curriculum, student life, classroom instruction, and governance. America's students have been disenfranchised in a system that stresses the teaching of democratic principles, and this condition has contributed to the unsatisfactory outcomes we are experiencing from our public schools. This study encompassed eight subscales to determine the degree of student involvement and participation at the school site. The instrument included a demographic section designed to gain a greater understanding of students and the perceptional variances of different groups both within and among the schools surveyed. Reliability was determined using Cronbach's alpha. A one-way analysis of variance was used to assess the instrument's ability to discriminate between schools. Content validity was determined by using a randomly ordered list in which a jury was asked to place the item in the appropriate dimension. Five high schools were selected for this study by a panel of experts. Two of the high schools were identified by reputation as having a high degree of student involvement, two were identified as having a low degree, and one school was identified as having a moderate degree. As a result of this study of student involvement and participation in the public schools, an instrument has been created to provide reliable and valid data regarding students. The initial research involved five high schools in New York State. Students, as expected, are not greatly involved in issues at the test sites. The findings are indicative of a situation in which students are not consulted or empowered in issues of schooling. The results indicated that the higher a student's grand mean on the Student Involvement and Participation Scale (SIPS), the more likely he or she is to be satisfied with his/her education and his/her treatment. Approximately, 90% of students stated that they are somewhat to very satisfied with their education. Yet, only 65% of the students felt they were treated good to excellent by adults in their school. SIPS revealed that 90% of students believe that increased student involvement will result in some to great improvement in their school.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|School administration|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Shear, Richard Gary, "Measuring student involvement and participation in decision-making in public schools" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9729609.