School Climate

What is School Climate?

School climate refers to the quality and character of school life. School climate is based on patterns of students', parents' and school personnel's experience of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures.

Why School Climate Matters

A growing body of research shows that school climate strongly influences students' motivation to learn and improve academic achievement. When school members feel safe, valued, cared for, respected, and engaged, learning increases. Schools that provide students with support to meet these basic needs allow them to grow socially and emotionally and avoid problems ranging from emotional distress to drug use to violence—in addition to helping them achieve academically.

Creating a Positive School Climate

Positive school climate must be a shared mission, created and sustained by students, parents, and school staff, and supported by the community. Efforts to improve school climate must be an integral part of school improvement plans in order to have a positive and sustainable effect. Too often, fragmented solutions are implemented, are marginalized in the school, and improvements are short-lived. In order to achieve meaningful and sustainable improvements, schools must have a clear sense of their vision and goals. Schools also need to understand the barriers to learning that their students experience beyond the school and address those barriers before students can achieve and thrive.

The Healthy Communities Section provides a variety of programs and resources that are designed specifically to assist schools and communities with designing programs, policies, and practices that help to create safe and supportive learning environments for all youth.