“School climate is based on patterns of people’s experiences of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures.” (National School Climate Council, 2007, p.4)
What Is a Positive School Climate?
Norms, values, and expectations make students and adults socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically safe.
All school community members are engaged and respected.
Students, families, and educators work together to achieve shared school vision.
Educators model and nurture an attitude emphasizing the benefits of and satisfaction from learning.
Each person contributes to school operations and the care of the physical environment.
Visitors to the school feel welcomed. (Cohen and Elias 2011)
Why Should We Care About School Climate?
School climate may be the missing link in promoting school reform and closing the achievement gap (Schindler 2010). Studies have clearly shown that schools with a positive school climate have higher academic achievement (Cohen, 2009; Schindler 2010; NSCC 2012). And when considering the whole learner, school climate impacts a variety of factors that influence learning such as students' emotional health, feelings of safety, attendance, relationships, and motivation. A positive school climate and supportive conditions for learning can:
- Impact learning and boost academic achievement thus closing gaps
- Increase graduation rates
- Decrease teacher turnover
- Increase teacher satisfaction
- Turn around low-performing schools (Osher 2012)
School Climate Resources
- Articles and Research
- Other Tools and Websites
Articles and Research
National School Climate Standards
The five National School Climate Standards provide a research-based framework and benchmark criteria for educational
leaders (School Boards, State Departments of Education, Superintendents, Principals and After School
leaders) to support and assess district and school efforts to enhance and be accountable for school climate.
Students' well being and academic success differs according to the level of opportunities for student participation. Increased opportunities for participation positively correlates with academic performance, student connectedness to schools, and student perception of school safety.
The School Climate Index (SCI) has a direct relationship to the Academic Performance Index (API). As SCI increases, student API increases as well.
School Climate and Mental Health
A summary of literature that suggests that school climate can impact student learning and social, emotional, and psychological development.
A helpful diagram on the key stages of the school climate improvement process.
A brief collection of school climate research facts in relation to safety, teaching and learning, relationships, institutional environment, and school improvement.
School Climate Matters
A two-page brief article describing the research.
As California teachers begin to strategize about how to meet the Common Core standards, some educators say that explicit instruction in social and emotional competence – teaching students how to regulate their emotions, problem-solve, and disagree respectfully, among other abilities – should be a key part of the equation.
Supporting Teachers Is Part of Positive School Climate
Effective learning conditions for students must begin with effective working conditions for staff.
A 28-minute webinar addressing the school factors that can either facilitate bullying or decrease bullying, and research-based practices that prevent and reduce bullying on campus. Also at this site are webinars on general guidance about legal issues and administrative considerations about bullying.
Character, Connectedness, Community and Cognition
This presentation addresses the link between cognitive development and social-emotional-character development. It presents the elements of an intentional classroom community and the teacher-student relationship as the foundation of effective instruction.
Demystifying Student Behavioral Issues: From Understanding to Empowering 12/4/14 Slides
All school staff can benefit from learning about children with challenging behaviors and how to help them manage their emotions. Learn what is perpetuating the behavior and ways to build resilience.
Presented by: Shirin Ansari, Ph.D., and Greg Koch, Ph.D., Kids Potential
Impacting School Culture: Examining Rituals, Traditions, & Ceremonies
A conference presentation about the impact of a culture of community on learning and student well-being, student connectedness, and the examination of a school’s rituals, ceremonies and traditions for the messages they send about core ethical values.
Making the Case for the Importance of School Climate and Its Measurement in Turnaround Schools (Archived Webinar)
This webinar was presented by the USDOE’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students’ Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) Technical Assistance Center and the School Turnaround Learning Communities presented the Webinar, “Making the Case for the Importance of School Climate and Its Measurement in Turnaround Schools," on September 20, 2012.
The School Experience: Risk or Protective Factor for Bullying? NEW
Four questions are addressed in this presentation: What is school climate and how does it impact student behavior? What school factors facilitate bullying behaviors? What school factors decrease bullying? What school-wide practices prevent and reduce bullying?
Learn about school climate national standards, criteria for selecting school climate measurement tools for LCAP, and best practices to improve climate. Presenter: Lucy Vezzuto, Ph.D., Orange County Department of Education
A keynote presentation for the yearly launch of the Orange County Dept. of Education PBIS Initiative.
Promoting Authentic Student Voice
Fully engage the power of your students to enhance and maintain a positive school climate.
Other Tools, Surveys and Websites
These are process templates to conduct data dialogues with school climate stakeholders using survey results.
Edutopia is dedicated to transforming the learning process by helping educators empower students to think critically, access and analyze information, creatively problem solve, work collaboratively, and communicate with clarity and impact. The site contains research and resources for reinventing the learning process.
Here’s a process developed by Dr. Bonnie Bernard to involve students in making school a place where they feel connected and contributing.
Does school staff view students as problems or problem solvers? Here’s a tool to find out and can be a touchstone for a conversation.
The USDOE Safe and Supportive Schools has a technical assistance website to support the improvement of conditions for learning for students and conditions for teaching for educators.
School Climate Survey Compendia NEW
The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) maintains a compendium of valid and reliable surveys, assessments, and scales of school climate that can assist educators in their efforts to identify and assess their conditions for learning.
USDOE School Climate Surveys
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is dedicated to helping keep students safe and improving their learning environments. In particular, ED developed the new, high-quality, adaptable ED School Climate Surveys (EDSCLS) and associated web-based platform that allows States, local districts, and schools to collect and act on reliable, nationally-validated school climate data in real-time.