The "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) Act has made schools accountable for assuring adequate yearly progress of students. Therefore, it has become critical to identify school-level variables that can be controlled to affect student achievement, especially given that, thus far, most school reform efforts have failed to significantly affect student achievement. This study identifies four theoretical constructs, three unique sets of empirical factors (one set for each group: students, teachers, and principals), and seven experiential themes that describe the middle school environment. However, none of these variables show any predictive relationships with achievement, which suggests current federal policies, such as NCLB, are inappropriate and unlikely to lead to improvements in science education in the USA. In addition, students, teachers, and principals were found to perceive the school environment in very different ways, indicating further investigation of student culture is needed to determine appropriate changes that might lead to real improvements in achievement.