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Climate Change Series: Federal, State, and Local Policy Recommendations for Creating a Positive School Climate


This report represents federal, state, and local policy recommendations for creating a positive school environment. To read each of the reports in All4Ed’s series on how equitable and effective school discipline policies, equitable access to rigorous and engaging course work, and access to effective teaching work together to create a positive school climate, check out the full Climate Change series, available below.

Too frequently, education reform takes a siloed view that focuses on an individual issue instead of a broader and more comprehensive perspective. For example, students’ lack of access to challenging and rigorous course work and their lack of access to experienced, engaging, and effective teachers are often discussed as separate issues rather than within the wider context of school climate. School climate—the totality of factors that affect a learning environment—is talked about less often than individual factors, despite research showing that a school’s climate, whether positive, negative, or somewhere in between, is connected to the level of students’ engagement in their course work and, consequently, to their success.

Instead of responding to issues in isolation, school administrators, policymakers, and legislators should examine how these multiple issues fit together and affect schools and districts, as well as the broader education system. Failing to take a more comprehensive approach toward the goals of reforming education and improving school climate will result in limited, if any, success in achieving these goals. In this report, All4Ed offers federal, state, and local policy recommendations to create a positive school climate.

Climate Change Series

August 15, 2013

Publication | Opportunity to Learn

Climate Change: Creating an Integrated Framework for Improving School Climate

Based on data from the Civil Rights Data Collection, schools that struggle most with providing a positive school climate more often disproportionately serve students of color and low-income students.
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September 19, 2013

Publication | Opportunity to Learn

Climate Change: Implementing School Discipline Practices That Create a Positive School Climate

Middle and high school students subjected to harsh school discipline policies and practices such as suspensions and expulsions are more likely to disengage from the classroom and coursework and, ultimately, drop out of school.
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November 21, 2013

Publication | Opportunity to Learn, Other Priorities

Climate Change: Providing Equitable Access to a Rigorous and Engaging Curriculum

Rigorous and engaging curriculum aligned with college- and career-ready standards fosters positive school climates in which students are motivated to succeed, achievement gaps narrow, and learning and outcomes improve.
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September 18, 2014

Publication | Data, Educator Policy, Opportunity to Learn

Climate Change: Improving School Climate by Supporting Great Teaching

Many low-income students and students of color lack access to great teaching that supports a positive school environment.
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