Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education released the Parent and Educator Guide to School Climate Resources with recommended best practices and a collection of resources. The guide is intended to help school leaders and teachers achieve a positive and inclusive school climate, reduce disciplinary issues and enhance school safety.
According to the guide, a positive school climate “reflects attention to fostering social and physical safety, providing support that enables students and staff to realize high behavioral and academic standards.” It also encourages and maintains “respectful, trusting, and caring relationships throughout the school community.” School climate improvement is a strategic undertaking to achieve a positive school climate by reviewing the school’s “practices, systems and structure,” including gathering information from stakeholders and collecting and reviewing relevant data.
The guide was produced jointly by the offices of Elementary and Secondary Education and Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. It is formatted primarily as a Q&A document, but also provides decision-making frameworks and implementation tools. The guide features examples from U.S. schools to illustrate interventions to enhance student behavior and achievement. It includes diagnostic tools to enable educators and school leaders to collect and utilize data to propel their climate improvement strategy.
The guide includes information about two department technical assistance centers – the National Center on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments and the Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, both of which offer training products and school climate improvement tools.
A seven-page appendix lists numerous additional resources and materials for more intensive study on school climate and climate improvement. Among the resources are both government agencies and private organizations, including Character Lab, which has partnered with OSBA to bring research on character strengths in children to Ohio’s school districts.