The 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.

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

Task 1: Create and Execute Evaluation Plan


Guideline: Evaluation addresses whether a strategy or intervention has accomplished what it set out to do and in the way it was intended. Evaluation provides an opportunity for improvement and mid course adjustments. It enables the school's work team to assess the effectiveness of their efforts. There should be a method of evaluation associated with each selected strategy.

Critical Questions

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook includes a list of five questions the foundation suggests are critical for all evaluation plans to consider over the life cycle of a project.


Different Formats for Different Audiences

This document lists a number of different types of reports and suggests appropriate audiences for each report.


Possible Project-Level Evaluation Activities

This worksheet from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook lists possible evaluation activities for each project stage from planning to policy.

Evaluation Budget

This worksheet from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook is intended to help project planners develop a budget for project evaluation.

Alternate format: PDF

Data Collection Considerations

This resource from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Evaluation Handbook provides a list of things to consider when deciding upon data collection methods and instruments.


Program Evaluation Standards

This link is to program evaluation standards published by the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (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.


Protection of Human Subjects in Research

A research activity involves human subjects if the activity is research, as defined in the U.S. Department of Education’s regulations, and the research activity will involve use of human subjects, as defined in the regulations. Such activities must follow the Regulations for the Protection of Human Subjects. When developing a program evaluation, it is important to keep these restrictions in mind.

Evaluation Tips

This document contains tips for evaluators from designing the evaluation to reporting findings.

Choosing Evaluators

This Community Toolbox article discusses what is important when looking for an evaluator, whether the person selected is a paid professional, a volunteer, or someone from within the organization.


The Program Manager's Guide to Evaluation

This guide reviews the basic elements of the evaluation process. Though written to fulfill program goals of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, it may be useful as a basic primer on evaluation.


Using Logic Models to Bring Together Planning, Evaluation, and Action

This link is to the publication Using Logic Models to Bring Together Planning, Evaluation, and Action.


W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook

This handbook provides a model for program evaluation developed by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

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