Positive School Climate

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Colorado School Safety Resource Center Created Positive School Climate Materials  

New -- Positive School Climate: Bullying and Harassment Prevention and Education School Resource Guide

  • This Colorado School Guide includes resources that may help to address bullying and harassment in schools. Compiled by the Colorado School Safety Resource Center in June 2014. Updated in June 2016.

Resource Mapping Toolkit and Positive School Climate Action Plan Template, updated November 2012   (word) (pdf)

Resources for Positive School Climates: At-a-Glance, updated November 2014

Resources for School Climate Surveys: At-a-Glance, updated November 2014


Other Positive School Climate Materials

New --WHAT IS DIGNITY? (New short animation film)

From locker rooms to our work-places, our faith communities and halls of government, we constantly see abuse of power and adults forcing young people to respect them. We all grew up hearing that we should “respect our elders.” It’s a core value that unites across ethnicities, religions, countries and class. Using dignity instead of respect gives us a way new way to interact with each other. A way where we can recognize the person’s essential worth apart from their actions. Our schools depend on it. Our communities depend on it. It all begins with young people believing in what we teach them. Watch the video, share it with a young person, a teacher, a friend, a person in your family.

Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS)

Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA

  • Operating under the auspices of the School Mental Health Project at UCLA, the national Center for Mental Health in Schools was established in 1995. Our mission and aims are to improve outcomes for young people by enhancing the field of mental health in schools.
  • The center receives a constant flow of information and resources, outreaches for more, and based on ongoing assessments and analyses of needs related to policy, practice, research, and training, develops new resources and networks and provides strategic support. A key aspect of this is a focus on the latest reports, evaluations, prevalence/incidence data, and empirically and evidence based outcome studies. All identified relevant resources are added to our clearinghouse and entered as topical links on our website's Quick Find for ready access.
  • Education Leaders’ Guide to Transforming Student and Learning Supports, published April 2014

Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) 

  • Measuring School Climate: A Toolkit for Districts and Schools
    • This toolkit was released in October 2012 through the contributions of individuals serving on the School Climate subcommittee of the Colorado Bullying Prevention Working Group representing critical community stakeholders and educational leadership statewide.
    • Developed by Colorado Department of Education and Colorado Education Initiative (then Colorado Legacy Foundation) with assistance from Colorado School Safety Resource Center and the Gill Foundation.
    • Effective approaches to addressing bullying focus on improving school climate as a key approach to prevent bullying in addition to teaching adults and students skills to appropriately respond to bullying when it occurs. Given the importance of school climate in bullying prevention, it is recommended that districts and schools focus on measuring school climate rather than narrowly focusing on measuring bullying. This toolkit provides guidelines for measuring school climate, assessing readiness, obtaining parent consent, using multiple sources of data to monitor climate, conducting a focus group, communicating your results, and includes a comparison of common climate surveys.
    • Created in 2014
    • This guide provides step-by-step instructions for establishing an Allies Club in your school. The guidelines are drawn in large part from the experience of a Colorado middle school over four years as it created and sustained an Allies Club. Each step provides instructional strategies and activities to use with club members as well as questions to consider when developing and supporting Allies groups. These resources could also be excellent resources for professional development.
    • Published in 2013
    • What research shows is effective in transforming school-wide culture, as well as reducing bullying and peer victimization, are those strategies aimed at getting to the heart of how students feel – their sense of safety, belonging, connectedness and confidence – in combination with effective response to social, emotional and mental health needs and strong skill building.
    • Use this toolkit to discover how Colorado schools are creating positive school climates.  Access online tools, watch videos featuring Colorado schools and programs, and download template documents.

Facing History and Ourselves

  • Facing History was founded in 1976 by educators who wanted to develop a more effective and rewarding way to engage students. Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational and professional development organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.
  • Bullying Resources
  • A Guide to the Film Bully: Fostering Empathy and Action in Schools, helps adult and student audiences confront the stories in this film and explore the meaning for their schools and their wider communities.
  • Safe and Engaging Schools
    • Facing History’s educational model helps students to develop an awareness of the power and danger of prejudice and discrimination, the experience of vulnerable groups in society, and the importance of solving differences through discussion and dialogue, not violence.


Healthy Schools, Healthy Staff, Healthy Students

  • Just as children need to be healthy, safe, engaged, challenged, and supported to perform to their highest ability, so do the school employees who are charged with educating, guiding, nurturing, and protecting them. Districts and schools can use this guide to start or expand an employee wellness initiative that will benefit both employees and students. 

Hotspot Mapping: How Colorado is Working to Improve School Climate to Prevent Violence

  • The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has adopted hotspot mapping as part of its strategic plan to prevent sexual violence and related safety and health issues. The process brings school communities together to physically map safe and unsafe spaces, while building trusting relationships and empowering youth to be part of developing solutions. Twelve schools in Colorado are piloting this initiative to improving school climate and prevent multiple forms of violence, including sexual and teen dating violence.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE)

National Education Association (NEA)

National Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

  • The Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports has been established by the Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education, to give schools capacity-building information and technical assistance for identifying, adapting, and sustaining effective school-wide disciplinary practices.
  • Blueprint for School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Training and Professional Development
    • Published in September 2010, this blueprint is designed to assist schools, districts, and states in providing training and professional development for initial implementation and sustained implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).

National School Climate Center (formerly The Center for Social and Emotional Education, CSEE)

From a Nation at Risk to a Nation of Hope

  • Recommendations from the National Commission on Social Emotional & Academic Development.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

  • The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) supports the use of PBIS for Colorado Schools. The mission of the Colorado Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Initiative is to establish and maintain effective school environments that maximize academic achievement and behavioral competence of all learners in Colorado.  

Safe and Supportive Schools Technical Assistance Center, National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE)

School Climate Surveys, Safe Communities Safe Schools

  • SCSS is an initiative of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV), a research program of the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, was founded in 1992 with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
  • SCSS has developed pre-planning checklists and student, parent and staff school climate surveys to determine a school's strengths and needs. At the completion of the surveys, SCSS issues a comprehensive report detailing strengths and challenges and research-based solutions for addressing specific needs.
  • What is a Safe School?, a Fact Sheet about the development of a safe school. This Safe Communities Safe Schools Fact Sheet was revised in 2008.

School Climate Surveys Webinar Series

  • Presented by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Healthy Students National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments.
  • Analysis of Survey Data
    • This session addressed the analysis of school climate survey data. Data analysis methods and issues included: an overview of survey data analysis methods and presentation; items vs. scales (issues of interpretation); simple to complex (cross-tabs, factor analysis, IRT scaling); reports/presentation to various audiences; “School safety score”—issues; subgroup analyses; and data security and confidentiality.
  • Effective Strategies for Assessing Bullying, Violence, and Substance Abuse
    • In this webinar participants will learn strategies to design and conduct surveys to measure bullying, violence, and substance abuse. Links to appropriate resources and examples of such assessments will be provided.
  • Evaluating the Reliability of Surveys and Assessments
    • School climate surveys typically include sets of questions or scales that are designed to measure their underlying constructs or concepts. Once data have been collected, it is important to evaluate the reliability of those scales to determine if they appropriately measure the underlying constructs. During this Webinar, Dr. Lorin Mueller, Principal Research Scientist at the American Institutes for Research, focused on evaluating the reliability of surveys and other assessments.
  • Increasing Staff and Family Survey Response Rates
    • During this Webinar, Eric Hirsch, Chief Officer, External Affairs for the New Teacher Center; Trina Osher, President of Huff Osher Consulting, Inc.; and Dr. Sarah Lindstrom Johnson, Assistant Director for Research and Evaluation of the Maryland Safe and Supportive Schools project and Research Associate at Johns Hopkins University, co-presented on engaging families, staff, and special populations in school climate efforts and increasing survey response rates for these respondents.
  • Reporting and Dissemination
    • This session addressed reporting/disseminating school climate data. Content focused on: consideration of audience; content of message; delivery (hard copy media, online, listservs, etc); interpreting the data (including cautions); connecting survey and outcome (achievement) data; connecting survey results with interventions; then, choosing and implementing appropriate intervention(s).
  • Survey Administration
    • During this Webinar, Dr. Sally Ruddy, Principal Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research and Lead Survey Specialist for the Safe and Supportive Schools TA Center, focused on the administration of school climate surveys.
  • Survey Development
    • This Webinar focused on the development of school climate surveys/measures. Content included extant measures/surveys; vetted measures vs. pre-testing new items; individual items vs. scales; and creating and using table shells up-front, for later data population.
  • Survey Management
    • During this Webinar, Drs. Kimberly Kendziora and Chris Boccanfuso introduced survey management and planning specific to school climate. Specific areas addressed include: connecting survey items with research questions; fielding surveys to various respondent groups, including best-practices in survey administration; connecting survey results with interventions and/or outcome (achievement) data; involving stakeholders; coordinating efforts of schools, including resistance/defensiveness; data quality issues; confidentiality and anonymous vs. non-anonymous responses.

School Climate Webinar Series

  • Presented by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Healthy Students National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments.
  • Addressing Risk Behavior through Positive Youth Development Strategies
    • This session highlighted features of strength-based strategies to enhance the positive development of students at various developmental stages. Evidence was shared on how these strategies both enhance thriving behaviors in students (e.g. exhibiting leadership, valuing diversity) and reduce health-compromising risky behaviors (e.g. alcohol and other drug use, acts of violence). Practical every day strategies for integration of the strategies into the school environment were featured.
  • Building Meaningful Relationships Between Parents/Families and Schools
    • This webinar reviewed the importance of engaging parents with schools; specifically, the webinar highlighted effective strategies for increasing parental engagement (at the elementary, middle, and high school levels). The webinar also reviewed strategies for engaging parents and families both when students are doing well and when they are struggling, and it addressed the common barriers to involving hard-to-reach parents and families. Accompanying the webinar content were real-world perspectives from school administrators and/or staff who are currently in the field, including their challenges, successes, and lessons learned regarding parent/family engagement.
  • Bullying Prevention
    • This session focused on strategies for preventing bullying, with a focus on enhancing overall school climate to minimize bullying behavior. In addition, participants explored practical approaches for recognizing the signs of potential bullying onset, risk analysis, support and interventions when such behavior does occur. Best practice guidelines for a comprehensive approach to addressing this issue were also explored.
  • Enhancing Peer-to-Peer Relationships to Strengthen School Climate
    • Positive relationships are central to a safe and supportive school climate. In this Webinar used the latest information to focus on the power of student-to-student relationships; how these relationships impact school climate; and the role of school adults in nurturing healthy, respectful relationships among students in the classroom, hallway, cafeteria, school bus, and school grounds before and after school. Participants received detailed strategies and best practice principles that will inform efforts to strengthen student relationships. Presenters offer “real world,” practical solutions for strengthening student relationships in our nation’s schools.
  • Establishing Supportive Relationships between Teachers, Staff, Students, and Families
    • During this Webinar, Clay Roberts, senior trainer from Vision Training Associates, presented on how to promote a more supportive school community; build strong, more caring relationships between and among everyone in the school; and intentionally build the developmental strengths of students. This session asserted that establishing a positive climate and enhancing relationships sets the foundation for minimizing conflict. It also moved beyond “zero tolerance” to strategies and skills that increase the school’s effectiveness in managing conflict.
  • Integrating Social-Emotional Learning into State and District Policies
    • Educators recognize the important role social-emotional learning (SEL) plays for student success in school, work, and life. In a recent national study, the majority of educators stated that giving SEL a greater emphasis in schools will help improve academic achievement, student interest in schools, and student behavior (Bridgeland, Bruce, & Hariharan, 2013).
  • Making the Case for the Importance of School Climate and Its Measurement in Turnaround Schools
    • A growing body of evidence has demonstrated how school climate is important to making schools work, especially in turnaround schools. When collecting data on school turnaround progress, measures of school climate are often leading indicators for progress!
  • The Relationship Between Bullying and Other Forms of Youth Violence and Substance Use
    • The issue of bullying is of growing concern in schools across the United States. Recent research highlights the overlap between bullying and other forms of youth violence, including gang involvement, as well as behavioral health risks, such as substance use. Bullying not only creates a poor school climate for students, but also negatively affects the work environment for school staff. In this Webinar we will review recent research linking bullying involvement, as both a target and a perpetrator, with other forms of youth violence and substance use. We will discuss different sources of data that may be informative in assessing bullying and related behavioral and mental health risks in schools. We will also summarize different research-based strategies and resources that schools can use to address the inter-related concerns of bullying, youth violence, and substance use.
  • School Based Climate Teams (Part 1)
    • This session provided detailed guidance for management and design of structures of support to address school climate. Based on the latest evidence in the field, participants explored all aspects of promoting healthy school climate, such as a three tiered model of promotion, prevention, and intervention. Content included establishing internal structure for referrals, triage, support systems and interventions (individual and group) and routine review of student progress. Particular attention was paid to how such efforts positively impact student achievement and behavioral outcomes.
  • School Based Climate Teams (Part 2)
    • This session builds on the information presented in the May 2011 webinar “School Based Climate Teams (Part 1)”. In this session, participants deepened their knowledge and skills to strengthen a school climate team. Practical strategies to sustain the effort were shared, with the overall goal being to improve overall school climate and student academic results.
  • Student Engagement
    • This session provided practical strategies and proven principles for enhancing student engagement. Student academic performance and socially appropriate behavior increase as they are meaningfully engaged in the educational setting. This session explored specific ways to assess their programs, increase opportunities for engagement and bolster efforts to connect with students, including those typically disenfranchised with educational settings.
  • Substance Abuse Prevention
    • This session explored the latest information on effective practice in the field of substance abuse prevention. It provided detailed guidance for the management and design of an alcohol and other drug prevention and intervention effort. The content focused on strategies that improve overall school climate and, as a result, student academic results.
  • Violence Prevention
    • This session provided detailed guidance for the management and design of an education system’s violence prevention strategy. While exploring best practice in the field, the session also featured specific, practical strategies for implementing and sustaining a school’s violence prevention efforts. The impact of positive school climate and relational strength on student violence was explored.

Strengthening Assessments of School Climate: Lessons from the NYC School Survey

  • Published by the Research Alliance for New York City Schools in 2013.
  • The New York City Department of Education’s (DOE) annual survey of parents, students, and teachers is the largest of its kind in the United States. Since 2010, the Research Alliance has been working with the DOE to assess and enhance the School Survey. Using data from 2008-2010, the Reserach Alliance examined the reliability and validity of the survey’s measures, and made a number of recommendations about how the survey could be improved.
  • This brief summarizes the findings and recommendations to date. It also outlines a set of broader lessons that have emerged from this work, which can provide guidance to the growing number of cities and states around the country that are implementing school survey efforts.

Teaching Tolerance

U.S. Department of Education


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