A growing body of research suggests that school climate may be an important variable in explaining why some schools are more successful than others. The study featured in this report contributes to this research by exploring the climate of a handful of secondary schools that have had extraordinary success compared to that of other schools, including those that consistently underperform.
School success is often defined in absolute terms, such as average standardized test scores; however, such criteria are known to be strongly correlated with the socioeconomic characteristics of a school’s student body. The fact that a largely affluent student body is linked to school success offers little useful direction for those trying to improve achievement in struggling schools with low-income student populations.
To address this limitation, this study’s design and methodology take student characteristics into account: a successful school is defined as one whose test scores are better than would be predicted based on its student characteristics. Using this definition, the study investigates how two factors—school climate and school personnel resources—differed among three groups of California secondary schools.