Date of Award

Spring 1-9-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

C. Kevin Fortner, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Sheryl A. Gowen, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Hongli Li, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Theodore H. Poister, Ph.D.


Within the education literature, satisfaction with the quality of public schools has received very little scholarly attention. Conversely, in the public administration literature, citizen satisfaction with public services has been studied since the late 1970s and in the past decade, models based on expectancy disconfirmation theory have increasingly been utilized. Of these models, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) model goes beyond satisfaction to examine the effect of satisfaction on behavioral consequences, such as the desire to move away from a locality, which may be of inherent interest to policymakers and public managers. This study extends the research on the ACSI model in the public sector by examining the effects of expectations, perceived quality, perceived disconfirmation, and grade on satisfaction with school quality. In turn, the effect of satisfaction on behavioral outcomes that are of interest to policymakers, modeled as the desire to choose a different schooling option or willingness to recommend public schools to others, are also examined. Using existing data from a public opinion poll, models for two groups of participants were estimated via regression-based path analysis. The study found a small negative effect of expectations on satisfaction and a larger role, directly and indirectly, of perceived quality on satisfaction judgments. Addition of the grade variable dispersed the effect of perceived quality but the total effect of the variable was unchanged. As theorized, satisfaction had a strong negative effect on the desire to choose a different schooling option and a strong positive effect on the willingness to recommend public schools to others. Suggestions for further research include a qualitative study incorporating interviews and focus groups to identify the information sources utilized in making satisfaction decisions and how individuals’ synthesize various pieces of information to determine whether their expectations have been met. In addition, use of objective measures, such as test scores, along with subjective measures may provide increased understanding of the influence of exogenous variables on the model.