Perceived Control at School Scale

Adelman, H. S., et al. (1986). An instrument to assess students’ perceived control at school. Educational and Psycho- logical Measurement 46:1005–17.

Comments: The 16-item Perceived Control at School Scale (PCSS) measures students’ perceived control at school. Data on reliability, validity, and factor structure are provided. Variations based upon sample characteristics have been found. Scale Construction: Twelve items were written based on five areas of control in which schools are different. Four items were added as a reliability check to see if there were differences based on positively and negatively worded items.

The pilot PCSS consisted of 16 items. Two forms of the PCSS were developed (one for the current school and one for the previous school).

Sample: Four samples were used. Two samples consisted of 107 special education students and the other two samples consisted of 113 regular education students. A description of the samples is provided.

Reliability: For the total special education samples the alpha coefficient was 0.80, while the alpha coefficient for the total regular education samples was 0.69. The alpha coefficient for all four samples was 0.65. Test-retest reliability over a two-week interval was 0.80 for special education students and 0.55 for regular education students.

Validity: To establish construct validity, the PCSS was correlated with the Nowicki-Strickland Locus of Control Scale.

In addition, differences in group responses were used to further establish construct validity.

Factor Analysis: Principal components factor analysis with a varimax rotation yielded five factors for the special education samples and six factors for the regular education samples (there was overlapping). The five factors are: five items on personal power/decision making (14, 12, 1, 15, and 3); four items on self-determination (8, 11, 7, and 10); four items on others interference with autonomy (2, 16, 5, and 13); two items on powerlessness (4 and 6); and two items on impersonal interference with autonomy (9 and 10). Factor loadings are presented.


Nichols, B. K. (1985). Self-perceptions of control and esteem as related to participation in a leadership training program. PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.

Taylor, L., H. S. Adelman, and N. Kaser-Boyd. (1984). Attitudes toward involving minors in decisions. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 15:436–49.

Perceived Control at School Scale

At school, how much of the time do you feel . . .

  1. you have a say in deciding about what the rules should be?
  2. people don’t let you be yourself and act the way you really are?
  3. you have a say in deciding about what should happen to you if you break a rule?
  4. you can’t influence what is happening to you?
  5. people want you to be yourself and to act the way you really are?
  6. people don’t let you take part in making decisions?
  7. you have a choice about what you are doing or learning?
  8. you can influence what is happening to you?
  9. the rules make you do things you don’t agree with?
  10. no matter what you do you probably won’t get what you want?
  11. you have very little choice about what you are doing or learning?
  12. you are able to change something if you don’t like it?
  13. others make your decisions for you?
  14. you get to do things in the way you think is right for you?
  15. people want you to take part in making decisions?
  16. people don’t treat you fairly?

Scoring: Never = 1; Not very often = 2; Slightly less than half the time = 3; Slightly more than half the time = 4; Very often = 5; and Always = 6. Scoring is reversed on the following items: 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, and 16. Perceived control scores can range from 16 to 96.