School Improvement Equals School Climate

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School Improvement Equals School Climate

By | December 2011
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Climate assessments are thought to have a contextual effect in the sense that school-level differences in climate dimensions are thought to be associated with differences between schools in student outcomes in ways that are not accounted for by individual differences in students' background characteristics and prior achievement. Climate dimensions are thought to be stable across time, absent any systematic effort to change them. For example, climate scores in middle schools remain stable over 2 years, even when the student membership of the building turns over (Brand, Felner, Shim, Seitsinger, & Dumas, 2003), suggesting that climate persists over time independent of the individuals who comprise the membership of a building. Finally, while students may offer diverse opinions about the climate of their school building, their ratings can be meaningfully and reliably aggregated to create school-level scores (Brand et al., 2008; Griffith, 2000).

Research on school climate has focused on the proximal conditions affecting students' learning, focusing on students' and teachers' experiences of the school as a learning environment. A related body of work on the organizational climate of the school also considers teachers' experiences of the school as a workplace (Halpin & Croft, 1963; Hoy & Tarter, 1997; Kelly et al., 1986; Rentoul & Fraser, 1983). Illustratively, the educational climate literature considers such dimensions as teacher support or achievement emphasis, while the organizational climate literature considers teachers' experiences of participation in decision-making at work. The present review focuses on the educational climate of the school, although the influence of organizational climate variables on students' learning and adjustment must also be acknowledged.

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