School Climate Improvement Model

School Climate Improvement

School climate improvement is a process that engages all members of the school community and involves them in a series of overlapping systemic improvements, school-wide instructional practices and relational management practices that promote safe, supportive and engaging schools. An effective school climate improvement process is an intentional, strategic, data-driven, collaborative (“bottom-up” as well as “top-down”), and continuous process. The assessment of school climate includes analyzing data on perception of students, family or caregivers, and school staff on a range of safety, relationship, teaching and learning, and institutional dimensions. School climate improvement is a five-stage continuous process: preparation, assessment, planning for improvement, implementation and evaluation.
The school community’s perception of school climate improves when schools are attentive to systemic, instructional, and relational policies and practices that drive school climate improvement. During a school climate improvement process, schools should focus on the following essential elements that promote a positive school climate. (1)

Essential Elements

  • Leadership: As school leaders, you publically support school climate improvement, establish a vision of what kind a school you want your school to be, and establish a no fault framework– leaders agree to take responsibility for their actions, learn from what action they’ve taken in the past that worked well and what didn’t work well. Together, leaders agree to work cooperatively to improve the school’s climate.
  • Engagement: Leaders meaningfully engage the whole school community in the school climate improvement process.
  • Data and Assessment: Assess the school’s readiness to take on school climate improvement. Use assessments to measure students, staff, and parents or caregivers perception of the 13 dimensions of school climate. Assess the community’s perception of and support for school climate improvement efforts, and evaluate if policy and practice implementation is done to fidelity.
  • Policy Resources or Policies and practices: Schools review and revise policies and practices to be sure they are aligned and supportive of school climate improvement, including preventative and restorative discipline practices.
  • Instructional and Relational Management Practices: All adults in the school building are positive role models, who explicitly teach social and emotional learning, provide students with opportunities to practice prosocial skills. Adults also effectively manage classrooms and common school spaces in a way that focuses on student engagement and restorative practices. All staff participate in professional development that targets the development and promotion of meaningful student-teacher relationships.

 School Climate Practices

During a school climate improvement process, a representative school community team will conduct a variety of assessments to identify what school climate dimensions and indicators need improvement and to what extent the district and school are actualizing the school climate improvement essential elements. In addition to the essential elements, you can use assessment results to select practices that will improve school climate. The practices can be related to policy or student support services and can be classroom practices or schoolwide practices. An example of a school climate practice is using circle to build community and repair harm to relationships after a student conflict happens or when school rules are violated. When a practice is implemented with fidelity and on its own, schools will see improvements in school climate. However, when schools implement practices based on needs identified and combine that with attentiveness to the essential elements of school climate improvement, schools will experience even greater improvements in school climate.
(1) Cohen, J., Espelage, D., Twemlow, S.W, Berkowitz, M.W. & Comer, J.P. Rethinking Effective Bully and Violence Prevention Effects: Promoting Healthy School Climates, Positive Youth Development, and Preventing Bully-Victim-Bystander Behavior. International Journal of Violence and Schools 15, pages 2-40.