School Climate Policy

There has never been more federal and state support for school climate reform efforts in America. Paradoxically, most practitioners are not sure what school climate improvement means on day-to-day basis. This commentary details three factors that contribute to school climate reform being more of an idealized goal than an actual school improvement practice today: (i) confusion about what constitutes an effective school climate improvement process in general; (ii) confusion about how school climate reform is similar and/or different from PBIS; and, (iii) educational policies and accountability systems that actually discourage principals and superintendents from actively supporting school climate improvement efforts.

School Climate Guide for District Policymakers and Education Leaders; Terry Pickeral, Lou Ann Evans, William Hughes, & David Hutchison (2009).

This guide, a companion to the National School Climate Standards, identifies quality practices in school climate that can lead to student achievement and success; various policy options that encourage, support and reward implementation and sustainability of a positive school climate; and strategies to ensure alignment of quality practice and supportive policies based on research and evidence of practice. Finally, the guide identifies frameworks, tools (specific instruments schools can use to measure and improve school climate), resources and responsibilities of district policymakers and education leaders.

This special CEP report highlights findings about the critical element of school climate from case studies of the first year and half of SIG implementation in Maryland, Michigan, and Idaho. The information in the report is based on interviews with 35 state, district, and school officials in the three states and on in-depth reviews of six SIG-funded schools. Key findings about school climate are presented from these case studies.

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right: Why Zero Tolerance is Not the Solution to Bullying (2012)

This policy brief critiques current zero tolerance responses and bully prevention policies. A series of research based policy and practice recommendations are suggested for federal, state, district and school leaders.

The School Climate Challenge; National School Climate Council (2007)

In order to formulate ways to meet the policy, practice and teacher education challenges, the Center for Social and Emotional Education, currently the National School Climate Center, and the Education Commission of the States (ECS) convened a “thinkers meeting” (April 2007) and a “professional judgment group” (October 2007) of national experts. This paper outlines recommendations made by this School Climate Council for policy makers and teacher educators.

In July 2011, The National School Climate Center (NSCC) completed a 50-state policy scan on state school climate and anti-bullying policies to better understand the current state policy infrastructure supporting the development of positive school climates. This policy brief examines the current status of state policies on school climate and anti-bullying policies, and provides policy examples and recommendations for policymakers, districts, schools and school climate advocates to consider.

The School Climate Standards were developed by the National School Climate Council and scores of other educators, mental health professionals, family, school board and other community leaders to delineate a set of benchmarks that districts and/or States can adopt or adapt. These benchmarks provide a framework to begin to define what we can and need to do to support children and adolescents developing in healthy ways and learning. For this paper, we have invited a group of building, district, State and national educational leaders to comment on the following five questions:

  1. Do we need national school climate standards? Why or why not?
  2. What do you most value and agree with about these standards? Is they're something important that is, in your view, missing?
  3. What do you most dislike and disagree with about these standards?
  4. How could standards like these be used most helpfully to support student learning, positive youth development and the promotion of skills, knowledge and dispositions that support an effective and engaged citizenry? And,
  5. What are the most important recommendations you would make to teacher educators, school leaders, teachers/ others who seek to implement the standards?

We hope that these commentaries spur discussion, reflection and debate.