Date of Award


Degree Type



Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs

First Advisor

Galletta, Anne

Subject Headings

Education and state -- United States, High school students -- Attitudes -- Education, Education -- Standards -- United States, education policy, education, education reform, NCLB, democratic equality, social efficiency, social mobility, quantitative


This dissertation focused on understanding high school students' perception of the goals of education as they relate to those of policymakers, as these perceptions have largely been absent in the dialogue of education reform and policy. These goals may compete with each other, as do broader educational goals, reflecting different societal views of the purpose of education. Understanding students' perception of the goals of education (as framed by the goals of policymakers) may provide greater insight into current policy, and serve as a compass in directing future reforms that is inclusive of all stakeholders involved in this complex system. Using David F. Labaree's (1997a, 1997b, 2010) construct of the competing goals of education (democratic equality, social efficiency, and social mobility) as a theoretical framework, three research questions were examined through a quantitative design: to what extent do students identify with each of the competing goals of education? to what extent do students' course of study and grade point average (GPA) relate to each of the competing goals of education? and to what extent do students' GPA and the competing goal with which students most strongly identify with predict membership in course of study?This study employed chi-square analysis, multivariate dimension reduction factor and scale reliability, multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA), and multinomial logistic regression as the statistical methods. Version 22.0 of Statistical Product and Service Solutions (SPSS) was used to analyze the data. Survey results indicated that students most strongly identified with the goal of social efficiency, followed by the goals of district stakeholders, democratic equality and social mobility. There was no statistically significant relationship between students' course of study and GPA, and the competing goals of education. The results from the multinomial logistic regression suggested statistically significant predictive values of social efficiency (positive) and distri