Understanding and addressing school climate can be facilitated by collecting and reviewing survey and incident data. Schools can then use these data to see which aspects of school climate need to be addressed and to select and implement evidence-based intervention practices and programs. This data-driven approach can promote positive outcomes for students and staff. Learn more about using data to inform effective program implementation.
Measuring School Climate
Collecting and analyzing school climate data can be an opportunity for school leaders to more effectively prioritize issues, set goals for reform, and understand how stakeholders differ in their perceptions of the current climate.1 It is important that measures of school climate be valid and psychometrically sound, reflect the voice of subgroups, reach multiple respondents, and use multiple instruments. An effort should be made to create measures that are actionable and will lead to practical and effective interventions.2 The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) maintains an ever-growing school climate survey compendium that includes scales, surveys, and assessments that schools can refer to in their efforts to measure and improve school climate.
Federal Sources for School Climate Data
A number of federal data sources provide information and data related to school climate.
National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments
The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students. The NCSSLE website provides information and resources that will help website visitors understand the nature of school climate in learning environments.
Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System
Through data collected from a national school-based survey, as well as additional local surveys, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six types of risky behaviors prevalent among youth and adults, including substance use and behaviors that contribute to unintentional injury and violence. YRBSS data help schools understand the scope of behaviors that can have a negative effect on school climate and strategically implement interventions to target these behaviors.
Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics
The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, a group of 22 federal agencies, focuses on research related to children and families. The forum produces an annual report, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, which provides statistics across multiple domains, including physical environment and safety, education, and health.
Indicators of School Crime and Safety
The Indicators of School Crime and Safety report is produced annually by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice. The report presents nationally representative data on multiple indicators of school crime and safety, including bullying, victimization, perceptions of safety, and substance use. Reports can be found on the National Center for Education Statistics website.
Monitoring the Future
The Monitoring the Future study aims to gather ongoing data on the values, attitudes, and behaviors of secondary and college students and young adults in the United States. Data pertaining to multiple factors that relate to school climate, including substance use and delinquent behavior, are analyzed.
1 National Center on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, n.d.2.
2 Osher, 2012