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

Sub-task 8: Safe and Drug Free

NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse

As noted at its website, "the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Heath (NIH), created this Web site to educate adolescents ages 11 through 15 (as well as their parents and teachers) on the science behind drug abuse. The site delivers science-based facts about how drugs affect the brain and body so that kids will be armed with better information to make healthy decisions."


D.A.R.E is a widely known anti-drug abuse program used in schools throughout the United States. However, schools should note there is no scientifically based research that shows the effectiveness of the program. This is important in regard to NCLB requirements for funding programs with federal dollars. Schools that are using the program seem to be doing so as part of a broader drug abuse curriculum.

Monitoring the Future Survey

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.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America

As noted at its website, "the Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a nonprofit organization uniting communications professionals, renowned scientists and parents. The Partnership's goal is to help kids and teens reject substance abuse by influencing attitudes through persuasive information."

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