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.
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.
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.
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.