"School climate refers to the quality and character of school life. It is based on patterns of school life experiences and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching, learning and leadership practices, and organizational structures." –National School Climate Center
Establishing a healthy school climate is an essential element of a safe school plan to foster academic success, positive youth development, risk prevention, health promotion and teacher retention.
Safe Communities Safe Schools (SCSS) is dedicated to assisting schools develop a safe and healthy school climate by offering a variety of instruments, technical assistance and information about school climate.
SCSS has developed pre-planning checklists and student, parent and staff school climate surveys to determine a school's strengths and needs. At the completion of the surveys, SCSS issues a comprehensive report detailing strengths and challenges and research-based solutions for addressing specific needs.
Tips to Improve School Climate
- Establish safe school planning teams
- Periodically evaluate strengths and needs with a research-based school climate survey
- Capitalize on strengths and address challenges
- Be aware of federal and state legislation regarding school climate issues, such as bullying
- Use evidence-based programs and strategies for meeting needs
- Monitor and evaluate any implementations
Results of a Positive School Climate
- Academic success
- Minimal bullying
- Less crime
- Fewer discipline problems
- Less truancy
- Fewer social and emotional problems
- Better teacher retention
Colorado Department of Education Selected Policies and Practices
The School Climate Challenge: Narrowing the Gap between School Climate Research and School Climate Policy, Practice Guidelines and Teacher Education Policy
We have detailed a glaring gap between school climate research findings and policy, school improvement practice and teacher educator efforts. Current accountability systems that exclusively focus on reading and math scores have reinforced this gap. This gap undermines K-12 students' ability to learn and develop in healthy ways. We have suggested a series of specific steps that support policymakers, practice and teacher education leaders to narrow this gap. And, in doing so, we are strengthening the school community and students' ability to learn the 21st century skills and dispositions that provide the foundation for school and life success. Measuring school climate and using these findings to build community and further learning and positive youth development will literally make a difference for the future of America: our children.
The Whole Child
Research proves that students learn best when their academic, emotional, physical, and social needs are met. The Whole Child Initiative serves as a clearinghouse of information on wellness policies. Sample policies and reference materials are provided to help school districts as they develop their own wellness policies.
Positive Behavior Interventions and Support
The mission of the Colorado Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Initiative is to establish and maintain effective school environments that maximize academic achievement and behavioral competence of all learners in Colorado.
- SCSS School Climate Fact Sheet
- Safe Communities Safe Schools Planning Guide
- Safe Communities Safe Schools Action Guide
- Safe Communities Safe Schools Program Guide
- Safe School Newsletters
- Blueprints for Violence Prevention Publications
- Safe, Supportive, and Successful Schools Step by Step
- School Climate: Research, Policy, Practice, and Teacher Education