A connection between school climate and school success

What makes successful schools different from other schools? What makes a school perform better than predicted given the characteristics of the children it serves? These were the questions posed in this study, which used data from over 1,700 California public middle and high schools. Researchers identified 40 schools that consistently performed better than predicted on standardised tests of maths and English. These schools were labeled “beating-the-odds” (BTO) schools.

The BTO schools had substantially more positive levels of school climate than other schools, as measured by the California Healthy Kids Survey. This examines such dimensions of the school environment as safety, academic supports, social relationships, and school connectedness. BTO schools had climate scores at the 82nd percentile, on average, whereas other schools were at the 49th percentile, on average. Differences in school climate were twice as large between BTO schools and 20 schools that were consistently performing worse than expected.

Source: A Climate for Academic Success: How School Climate Distinguishes Schools That Are Beating the Achievement Odds (2013), California Comprehensive Center.