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The appropriateness of a California student and staff survey for measuring middle school climate

Many education agencies require assessment and monitoring of school climate, but they have questions about how surveys identify school climate domains, differentiate between schools on these domains, and include measures that are stable over time and that relate to other measures of school functioning.

The student and teacher surveys of the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey each measure six school climate domains reliably and validly. For the student survey, the domains are safety and connectedness, caring relationships with adults, meaningful participation, substance use at school, bullying and discrimination, and delinquency.

For the teacher survey, the domains are support and safety, caring staff–student relationships, staff–peer relationships, student health and engagement, student delinquency, and resource provision.

The study found that school-level scores from the teacher survey were more stable than those from the student survey. All of the school-level domain measures were associated in expected ways with school-level student academic performance and suspensions.

Survey results can help educators identify school climate needs, target supports and reforms, and monitor progress in climate improvement efforts.