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IES Grant

Title: Developing a Research and Policy Agenda to Improve School Climate in Virginia
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Miller, Luke Awardee: University of Virginia
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (7/1/17–6/30/19) Award Amount: $399,618
Goal: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H170016

Co-Principal Investigators: Jo Ann Burkholder (VDOE), Jennifer Piver-Renna (VDOE), and Dewey Cornell (UVA)

Partners: University of Virginia and Virginia Department of Education (VDOE)

Purpose: This project will support the Virginia Department of Education's (VDOE) efforts to systematically measure school climate, provide targeted technical assistance to schools to improve their school climate concerns, and incorporate school climate metrics into Virginia's school accountability system in order to help VDOE gain a better understanding of how school climate is related to student education outcomes.

Partnership Activities: Under this project, the partnership will administer and analyze data from a new school climate survey to (1) describe statewide variation among districts, schools, teachers, students, and parents in school climate, (2) estimate associations between school climate and student education outcomes, (3) provide information on how school climate measures may be incorporated into VA's School Quality Profiles, and (4) integrate school climate measures into the Department of Education's technical assistance programs to schools.

Setting: The project will take place in the Virginia public schools.

Population/Sample: The survey will include all students in grades 4–12 and their parents and teachers.

Initial Research: The researchers will first analyze data from a pilot climate survey given in the 2016–17 school year and revise the survey. The survey will be administered statewide from February through April 2018. The researchers will then carry out three sets of analyses. The first will examine the properties of the survey. The second will examine variation in the measures of school climate by school and by respondent, and explore school-level characteristics associated with school climate. The third analysis will examine associations between school climate measures and student education outcomes. Finally, the researchers will create a database of school climate measures that can be used by VDOE to target its technical assistance to schools.

Outcomes: The outcomes of the partnership include the following:

  • increased capacity of VDOE to survey school climate statewide;
  • presentations, briefings, and publications on the perceptions of school climate by students, teachers, and parents, and the links between school climate and student education outcomes;
  • a database on school climate that can be used by VDOE to target its technical assistance to schools having school climate issues; and
  • a basis for further research on school climate.