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.
Guideline: Collecting student behavior data is the basic step in understanding behavior issues in a school. It is important for the principal to have a handle on this data collection. In addition to looking at the totals for all students, it is beneficial to disaggregate it for the following subgroups: age groups, gender, economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency. Disaggregated, the behavior data can be matched with the academic performance data for each subgroup.
This resource provides an overview of the U.S. Department of Education's handbook "Safety in Numbers: Collecting and Using Crime, Violence, and Discipline Incident Data to Make a Difference in Schools" along with a link to the complete document. The handbook defines a comprehensive data system for collecting incident data and identifies issues associated with making such a system work.
This link to the Indicators of School Crime and Safety report addresses the incidence of bullying in school and cyberbullying.
This annual report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics examines crime occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school.
The Monitoring the Future Survey, conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, has tracked 12th graders' illicit drug use and attitudes toward drugs since 1975.
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.
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.
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.