Observations and interviews were conducted in a high school, selected because of high student achievement scores, controlled for socioeconomic status, and a reputation for excellence. An organizational culture that cut across school groups including students, was found. It was grounded in academics and school spirit. A set of reinforcing elements was proposed as the reason for the culture. It included: administrators, teachers, parents, and a school board committed to academic study; a community whose main employer was a medical centre and which was perceived to be education‐oriented; many students who associated academic success with material success and popularity; and a school superintendent who acted as a catalyst. If students are to be part of a school′s organizational culture, reinforcing elements equivalent to those found are probably crucial. They counteract the oppositional student and adult subcultures that are so common in schools.
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