Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE)


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre




This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of: Witten, H. P., Waugh, R. F., & Gray, J. R. (2012). School administrators' beliefs that actual school improvements were due to formal school registration: Guttman scales and their inter-correlations. Proceedings of Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE). (pp. 21). Sydney, Australia. Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE). Available here


This paper presents an investigation into the attitudes of School Administrators to the relationship between formal school registration and school improvement. It concerns a mandatory inspection-type registration process for all Non-Government Schools in Western Australia. Part of the aim of this registration process was to help schools improve twelve educational and administrative aspects. These were: (1) School Governance, (2) School Financial Viability, (3) Enrolments & Attendance, (4) Number of Students, (5) Instructional Time, (6) School Staff, (7) School Infrastructure, (8) School Curriculum, (9) Student Learning Outcomes, (10) Care for Students, (11) Disputes and Complaints, (12) Legal Compliance. A questionnaire based on these twelve aspects was designed with five items per aspect (60 items total), conceptually ordered from easy to hard, and given to 110 administrators. It was completed by 65 administrators for a useable, response rate of 59%. The data were analysed to create twelve Guttman Scales. In a Guttman Scale the items are aligned from easy to hard horizontally and the person scores ae arranged vertically from high (top) to low (bottom) by items. If the data were to fit a Guttman pattern accurately, then the pattern of person responses for each item would be in a perfect step-type arrangement. If a person scores high on the hardest item, then that person scores high on all the other easier items. If a person scores low on the easiest item, then that person will score low on all the other harder items. In a practical situation, as was the case for these twelve Guttman Scales, the response patterns were not in perfect step-type arrangement, but they were all very acceptable. The response patterns fit a Guttman pattern, giving strong evidence for a unidimensional scale. The twelve Guttman Scale scores were then used to calculate 66 zero-order, effectively different inter-correlations (Pearson Product-Moment Correlations) between and amongst the twelve aspects of formal registration. The results showed that there were items that administrators said were relatively easy to say that actual school improvements were due to formal registration and other items that administrators said were very hard to say that actual school improvements were due to formal registration. This study produced new Guttman Scales and many interesting correlations for a key aspect of school improvement. It provides new insight into the policy and practice of school registration.

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