Positive Learning Climates KnowledgeBase

The Positive Learning Climates KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid educators in nurturing school climates conducive to learning. It is organized around five elements aimed at developing a positive learning climate.

Task 1: Review Federal Law

Guideline: There are a number of federal laws and precedent-setting court cases educators should be familiar with to understand the federal school safety requirements. The principal should share this information with his or her staff members. The provided resources can help foster such an understanding.

A Guide to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Participation in Juvenile Justice Programs

This U.S. Department of Justice guide, prepared in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education, reviews the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

CDC School Health Index

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offer this online School Health Index that can be used to analyze how well schools are addressing student health and well-being.  The School Health Index (SHI), sponsored by the CDC is a Self-Assessment & Planning Guide 2014 is an online self-assessment and planning tool that schools can use to improve their health and safety policies and programs. It's easy to use and completely confidential.

ESSA Title IV and School Health FAQ

This ASCD Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title IV answers questions about health program changes under ESSA.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools receiving funds under any applicable U.S. Department of Education program. School districts should ensure all staff members and outside contractors, such as counselors and interpreters, are familiar with the applicable policies on the privacy of student records.

Guidance on Transferability Authority

This link is to the U.S. Department of Education's final guidance on transferability authority.

Office for Civil Rights Guidance on Harassment

This resource offers links to Office for Civil Rights (OCR) guidance documents addressing disability, racial, and sexual harassment in the school setting.

Responsibilities of Schools to Address Sexual Violence and Other Forms of Sex Discrimination

This link to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights website provides a series of questions and answers on Title IX and sexula violence. As noted in the document, "these questions and answers further clarify the legal requirements andguidance articulated in the April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and the 2001 Guidance and include examples of proactive effortsschools can take to prevent sexual violence and remedies schools may use to end such conduct,prevent its recurrence, and address its effects."

School Safety and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

This document offers links to sections of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) relevant to school safety.

Supreme Court Decisions Relating to School Safety, Discipline and Harassment

There are several U.S. Supreme Court cases addressing school safety, discipline, and harassment. They set the legal foundation for school safety and discipline addressing student due process, searches and seizures in schools, drug testing on student athletes, and sexual harassment. A summary of each decision with a link to more detailed information is provided.

Element 1: Understand the Law

Purpose: In addition to addressing academic rigor, instructional strategies, teacher qualifications, and class size, the learning environment plays an equally important role in improving student academic achievement. The first step in creating a positive learning climate is understanding the laws addressing school safety. Element 1 offers basic information on the legal aspects of school safety.

Activity 1: Become Familiar with the Legal Aspects Concerning Safer Schools

Activity 2: Understand Legal Implications for Schools and School Personnel

Element 2: Know Your School and Community

Purpose: Assessing the school's learning climate involves looking at student behavior, school culture, physical environment, family and community involvement, and interactions with other government agencies. Element 2 outlines the tasks involved in creating a profile of the school's learning climate.

Activity 1: Take a Snapshot of School and Community

Activity 2: Identify Focus Areas

Element 3: Create a Comprehensive Positive School Climate

Purpose: Addressing school climate is an important aspect of improving academic performance. Taking a comprehensive look at a school's climate addresses focus areas that merit attention and communicates intended methods and strategies to the staff members, students, and other relevant constituent groups. Element 3 outlines the tasks involved with creating a positive school climate.

Activity 1: Plan to Act

Activity 2: Develop Methods and Strategies

Activity 3: Identify Resources Required to Accomplish Goals

Activity 4: Document Methods and Strategies

Element 4: Implement Strategies

Purpose: Improvement is achieved through the effective implementation of chosen strategies. To be successful, the principal should monitor the school's progress towards implementing the selected strategies. Element 4 outlines the steps for implementing the strategies aimed at improving a school's climate.

Activity 1: Manage Implementation

Activity 2: Accomplish Change

Activity 3: Evaluate Outcomes

Element 5: Communicate with School's Constituencies

Purpose: What happens in school is community news and sometimes even draws national attention. A district's and school's communication strategies should address how behavioral incidents are handled. Element 5 provides information on communicating with the school's constituencies.

Activity 1: Develop a Communications Strategy

Activity 2: Execute Communications Strategy