The Positive Learning Climates KnowledgeBase

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

Task 3: Incorporate Strategies Aimed at School Context and Organization


Guideline: Schools should consider strategies to improve the focus areas originating from the school/community snapshot. Such issues may involve bullying, character initiatives, conflict resolution, extended time activities, harassment, drugs, substance-impacted students, school environment, and student attendance. The resources provided offer guidance in these areas.

Curricula Resources

When reviewing curricula resources, questions always arise as to scientific basis and effectiveness. The Blueprints for Violence Prevention Project and the Hamilton Fish Institute each have undertaken a review of curricular resources on conflict resolution, substance abuse prevention, and violence prevention addressing those questions. The document provides links to each website.


National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices

This link is to the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. As noted at the website, "NREPP is a searchable online registry of more than 170 interventions supporting mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, and mental health and substance abuse treatment."


Operation Respect: Don't Laugh at Me

As noted at its website, "Operation Respect is a non-profit organization working to transform schools, camps and organizations focused on children and youth, into more compassionate, safe and respectful environments. Founded by Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul & Mary, the organization disseminates educational resources that are designed to establish a climate that reduces the emotional and physical cruelty some children inflict upon each other by behaviors such as ridicule, bullying and-in extreme cases-violence."

Climate Change: Creating an Integrated Framework for Improving School Climate

This Alliance for Excellent Education report examines how school climate affectsstudent engagement and success. As noted in the Alliance for Excellent Education news release "The report posits that school discipline, curriculum, and teaching are interconnected and any effort to address one issue will be limited unless the other two are addressed as well. When addressed as a whole, these issues make up school climate."


OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs, the Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports "aims to give schools capacity-building information and technical assistance for identifying, adapting, and sustaining effective school-wide disciplinary practices. Its offers information on positive behavior support at the school, district and state levels."


Office of Safe and Healthy Schools

This link is to the U.S. Department of Education's website for the Office of Safe and Healthy Schools.


Safe and Orderly Schools-The National Study of Delinquency Prevention Programs

This National Institute of Justice Research in Brief presents findings from a national survey of elementary, middle, and secondary schools.

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