There is a growing body of research, including Alaskan data, that shows an association between positive school climate and connectedness and academic achievement and reduced risk behaviors. When students feel safe, connected and engaged in their schools, they are more successful and effective learners, and exhibit fewer risk behaviors.
School Climate refers to the different factors that contribute to one’s experience at school. It includes how classrooms and common areas of a school are managed, expectations that students have for themselves and what they think the expectations are of adults towards them, feeling safe at school, and teachers and staff that consistently acknowledge and fairly address student behavior. Connected to school climate, is how connected students feel with others at their school and in their community.
In spring 2012 a Positive School Climate policy (BP 5137) was made available to all Alaska School Districts. This new policy was a result of collaborative efforts amongst school board members attending sessions at the 2011 Fall Boardsmanship Academy and Annual Conference. This policy highlights the connection between student achievement and positive climate, and lays out how school climate can be improved. Recommendations in the policy include supporting strength-based activities such as youth-leadership initiatives, family and community involvement in the school, and using effective classroom management strategies to foster a positive school climate. This policy also supports that districts who adopt this policy participate in the annual School Climate and Connectedness Survey, a transformative tool that measures how students and staff view their school climate and how connected students feel to their school and community.
We recommend that school districts adopt this policy- as district polices are a critical way to improve school climate! By adopting this policy, your district will be supporting activities to promote a positive school climate, which in turn will contribute to student achievement. Download the policy here. (.doc)
School Climate and Connectedness Survey
In 2015, 38,406 students and 7,957 staff from 28 school disticts participated in the SCCS.
Alaska’s School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) is a statewide survey taken by students and staff that measures:
- How students and staff view their school climate.
- How connected students feel to adults and peers.
- Social and emotional learning (SEL).
- Observed student risk behaviors at school or school events.
“Findings from Alaska’s School Climate and Connectedness Survey show correlations between student social emotional learning levels and improved academic achievement and reduced risk behaviors, reflecting findings from rigorous national research.”
– CASEL brief, 2010