The CalSCHLS School Connectedness Scale is an important differentiator between low-performing and high-performing high schools and has value as an indicator of school quality. School connectedness appeared to have increased in California recently, but it still declined markedly after students left elementary school with a substantial majority of high school students not feeling highly connected to their schools. The lowest rates of both connectedness and test scores occur in low-income schools.
School Climate and Culture
An analysis of California School Climate Survey data from school staff shows that supportive working conditions for teachers and teacher relationships with each other are related to school climate and student academic performance. The results suggest that providing teachers opportunities to engage in healthy, productive collegial relationships supports a positive school climate, improves conditions for learning for students, and improves student academic achievement.
School climate, as measured by the School Climate Index (SCI), is strongly related to state Academic Performance Index (API) scores. As SCI scores increase—as high schools became safer, more supportive, and more engaging—API scores increase as well.
Student interest, engagement, and motivation are fostered by providing students with opportunities to participate in meaningful, personally relevant activities in school. This factsheet addresses how these opportunities are related to student well-being and school climate improvement.
High levels of teacher support are a critical component of positive school climate change. This factsheet focuses on two important aspects of how teachers can support student well-being and resilience—high expectations and caring relationships.
In October 2010, California became one of eleven states selected by the U.S. Department of Education to receive a four‐year Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) grant. The grant supported statewide measurement of conditions for learning (known also as school climate), as well as targeted programmatic interventions to improve those conditions in comprehensive high schools (grades 9-12) with the greatest need. In particular, this initiative was designed to help address disruptive behaviors in school—such as bullying, harassment and violence, and substance use on campus—and promote safe, caring, engaging, and healthy school environments that foster learning and well-being among both students and staff. The California Department of Education selected 58 high schools to participate in the grant.
These annual reports provide insights into the activities and impacts of the grant, with data from the existing California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey (CalSCHLS) system, a team-developed School Climate Index (SCI), and a formative evaluation model which included evaluation site visits to every school in the spring of 2012, 2013, and 2014.