Educators have appreciated the importance of school climate for almost one hundred years...
For almost one hundred years, educators have appreciated the importance of school climate. In 1908, Perry was the first educational leader to explicitly write about how school climate affects students' and the process of learning. Although Dewey did not write explicitly about school climate, his focus on the social dimension of school life and the notion that schools should focus on enhancing the skills, knowledge and dispositions that support engaged democratic citizens (Dewey, 1927) implicitly touch on what kind of environment or climate the school reflects. These and other very early educational writings about school climate were—in essence—case studies.
Empirically grounded school climate research began the 1950's when Halpin and Croft (1963) initiated a tradition of systemically studying the impact of school climate on student learning and development.Early systematic studies of school climate were also spurred by organizational research as well as studies in school effectiveness (Anderson, 1982; Creemers & Reezigt, 1999). Early school climate studies tended to focus on observable characteristics (Anderson, 1982).
Recent Research and Practice
Over the last three decades there has been an extraordinary and growing body of research that attests to the importance of school climate. Positive school climate supports learning and positive youth development.
Download A Review of School Climate Research, 2013.
Dimensions of School Climate
Research has identified many elements, or "dimensions" that make up school climate, ranging from the size of the school to noise levels in hallways and cafeterias, from the physical structure of the building to the physical comfort levels (involving such factors as heating, cooling, and lighting) of the individuals and how safe they feel, from opportunities for student-teacher interaction, the quality of interactions in the teachers' lounge to a range of interpersonal and instructional dimensions of school life.