U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Creating and Sustaining a Positive and Communal School Climate: Contemporary Research, Present Obstacles, and Future Directions

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2018
30 pages
Since recent federal initiatives by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) reflect a growing recognition of the importance of school climate for positive youth development, this white paper addresses contemporary research, current obstacles, and future directions related to creating and sustaining a positive and communal school climate.
First, the differing definitions of school climate are discussed, followed by an examination of the problems associated with the assessment of school climate. The beneficial outcomes of a positive and communal school climate are then examined, along with the process through which these outcomes occur. Issues in improving school climate are then addressed, and the report concludes with recommendations on school-climate research and policy. One recommendation is to define school climate. Specifically, federal, state, district, and school leaders should adopt a definition of school climate that focuses on relationships among school community members, the goals and norms of the school, and broad participation of parties integral to the creation of school climate. A second recommendation is to assess school climate, using measurement instruments that determine the climate of a school through surveys of all members of the school community. A third recommendation is that researchers supported by policymakers explore the process that leads from a positive and communal school climate to its beneficial outcomes, as well as the factors that influence the creation of such a climate. The fourth recommendation is for each school district and each school to create and support a school climate team. The suggested activities of such teams are outlined. 55 references

Date Published: February 1, 2018