Department of Education Releases Resources on Improving School Climate

Archived Information

Department of Education Releases Resources on Improving School Climate

Free, First-of-Their-Kind Tools Will Support Enhanced Learning Environments for all Students
March 31, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education today released new school climate surveys and a quick guide on making school climate improvements to help foster and sustain safe and supportive environments that are conducive to learning for all students.

The ED School Climate Surveys (surveys) and the Quick Guide on Making School Climate Improvements will enable states, local school districts, and individual schools to collect and act on reliable, nationally-validated school climate data in real-time. These new free and adaptable resources will enable educators, administrators, and school system leaders to understand and create environments where every child can be successful.

“All students deserve schools that work to ensure safe and supportive school climates in which they can reach their full potential,” said James Cole Jr., General Counsel, Delegated the Duties of Deputy Secretary of Education. “These new surveys and quick guide will support any school that seeks to make significant improvements in all students’ safety and sense of respect and connectedness at school. We owe it to our children to ensure that school is not only safe and engaging, but that we are also working to continuously improve school climate by using resources like these.”

Research shows that students learn best when they are in environments in which they feel safe, supported, challenged, and accepted. Positive school climates foster trust, respect, communication and cooperation among students, school staff, parents and the community at-large. By improving school climate, schools lay the foundation for improving daily school attendance and high achievement by all students.

These new resources build on two Administration initiatives: President Obama’s Now is the Time Plan, and his My Brother’s Keeper Taskforce, which recommended that the Department work on the issue of school climates. As part of Now is the Time, the Department announced efforts to place a high priority on helping schools create safer and more nurturing school climates. One result was that the Department funded its National Center for Education Statistics to develop the surveys to create a school climate measurement platform in coordination with the Office of Safe and Healthy Students.

The new school climate surveys, which are on a web-based platform, are designed for middle and high school students, instructional staff, non-instructional staff, and parents and guardians. Moreover, the platform can process real-time data and provide user-friendly reports. Education agencies and schools administering the survey can store school climate survey data on their state, local, or school-based data systems. The federal government is planning to conduct a sample-based study using the surveys for benchmarking but will not collect or store data generated by the schools using the surveys for any other purposes.

In addition to the Quick Guide, a series of tools will be released later this spring and summer as part of the School Climate Improvement Resource Package, a web-based suite of action-oriented, research and evidence-based resources to help create and support positive school climates.