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: A school's physical facilities play a role in assuring a safe learning environment for students. When assessing the physical environment, attention should be given to how the building systems and security issues impact the school and students.
Partnership by Design, a resource from Education Northwest, the former Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, offers a useful checklist to assess a school's physical environment.
This resource is part of Education Northwest's series of safe schools guidebooks. Ensuring Quality School Facilities and Security Technologies helps educators and other members of the community understand the relationship between school safety and school facilities, including technology.
This link is to an article summarizing a survey of Chicago and Washington, D.C., teachers showing the links among the condition of school facilities, educational outcomes, and teacher attrition. Though the study reports on Chicago and Washington, D.C., schools, all urban school systems might use the findings with their improvement efforts.
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.