Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Susan M. Zgliczynski, PhD, Director; Edward Kujawa Jr., PhD; Phil Hwang, PhD


children & youth, Coopersmith Inventory, education, elementary schools, high schools, middle schools, self-esteem, teachers


The purpose of this study was to assess the self-esteem of students in a large, multicultural, urban, public school system on overall self-esteem and components of self-esteem across various ages. This was a descriptive study in which the researcher attempted to discern changes in levels of self-esteem as the students moved through the school system (grades 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12). Utilizing the Coopersmith Inventory, the researcher compared students' overall level of self-esteem, as well as the individual components of self-esteem: general self, social self/peers, home/parents, and school/academic. Selected teachers also completed a behavioral-observational rating scale on their students. A representative sample of 653 students was surveyed. Students' self-esteem, as measured by the Coopersmith, was compared by the independent variables of age, gender, ethnicity, academic achievement, current exposure to school-based self-esteem interventions, and interactions of the above. Student self-reports were also compared to teacher ratings on the behavioral-observational rating scale. One-way and two-way ANOVAs were used to test hypotheses and interaction between independent variables. An α=.05 was used in all tests of significance, and Fisher post hoc analyses were completed following significant findings. Overall, the research produced no significant findings regarding changes in self-esteem of students from grades four through twelve. There were no significant findings regarding the relationship of gender, academic achievement, ethnicity, and age. District implementation of self-esteem interventions had been inconsistent and, at many schools, nonexistent. The fact that no significant differences were seen by gender may be a reflection of the increased options and equality between the sexes. The fact that students did not diminish in reported self-esteem may indicate that they are successfully navigating the path to responsible and accountable adulthood. However, both of these findings may indicate that unsuccessful students have dropped out of school and were unavailable for the study. Differences found at individual grade levels may indicate the need for increased awareness of cultural norms and values, as well as student values regarding academic achievement. Differences between teacher reports and student reports may signal differences in expectations and manifestations of self-esteem.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access