Open Access
Bae, Sang Hoon
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 02, 2002
Committee Members:
  • Kenneth Gray, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • David Lynn Passmore, Committee Member
  • Judith Ann Kolb, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • ISO 9000 Quality Management System
  • School Peformance
  • Quality and Equality of Education
With an ever growing public concern over the quality of education, an increasing number of K-12 schools are adopting the ISO 9000 quality management system. However, little is known about the effects of ISO 9000 participation on the educational outcomes of schools. The purpose of this study was to investigate empirical evidence regarding how the implementation of ISO 9000 is related to school performance, which was measured by student achievement on the state-mandated standardized tests and the student attendance rates of schools – or the graduation rates, in the case of high schools. The study also examined whether the ISO 9000 standardized education system helps foster more educational equality by mitigating the effect of school socio-economic status on the overall student achievement of a school. The study was conducted using schools in the U.S. that participated in ISO 9000. The unit of analysis was a school, and the sample was selected from 30 school districts including 8 school districts implementing ISO 9000. The sample consisted of 330 schools at the primary school level, 157 schools at the middle school level, and 112 schools at the high school level; among them, 101 primary schools, 62 middle schools, and 36 high schools were implementing ISO 9000 as of 2004. The dependent variables were a) average passing rates of students of schools on the state-mandated tests, b) average passing rates of economically disadvantaged students of schools on the state-mandated tests, and c) the student attendance rates of schools or, in the case of high schools, graduation rates. Independent variables were a) the percentage of students in a school who receive free/reduced lunches, b) school-wide student-teacher ratio, c) annual per-pupil expenditure of school district, and d) ISO 9000 participation. The data were taken from various sources including official 2003-2004 school year state and district report cards and the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). Taking into account the hierarchical nature of the data, this study employed a Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) statistical technique. The study found that a) there is no relationship between ISO 9000 participation and student achievement of schools – across students in general and economically disadvantaged students in particular; b) there is a significant relationship between ISO 9000 participation and the student attendance rates in elementary and middle schools; and c) the effect of school SES, measured by the percentage of students receiving free/reduced priced lunches, on student achievement of a school does not differ between ISO 9000 schools and non-ISO 9000 schools. The study results provide two important policy implications. First, the ISO 9000 quality management system in education, focusing on procedural standardization of classroom activities, may not work well as a quick-fix solution to improve school performance – especially, student learning. Due to the long-established institutional features of education such as value-orientation, diversity, complexity, and unpredictability, procedural standardization of teaching and learning by ISO 9000 may be more difficult and less appropriate than ambitious business-oriented school reformers had expected. Second, given the relationship between student attendance and achievement, however, this study does not completely rule out the possibility that ISO 9000 could positively influence school performance in the long run. By helping schools become more organized and thus function well in the areas of essential school operations such as student and teacher attendance, ISO 9000 could contribute to building a school climate which helps enhance school performance without intimidating other important values such as teachers’ professional autonomy and creativity in classrooms.