Community Influences on School Disorder, School Climate, and Staffing Difficulty

Gary D. Gottfredson, Gottfredson Associates, Inc.
Denise C. Gottfredson, University of Maryland at College Park
Elizabeth M. Jones, Gottfredson Associates
Nisha C. Gottfredson, Gottfredson Associates

This research builds on an ongoing program of research to collect and analyze additional data about the community context within which schools operate and its influence on school safe and orderliness. A national sample of schools was surveyed to learn of their prevention programs, practices, and arrangements. Principals served as initial informants about programs in their schools, nominating program providers who supplied more information about prevention programs operating in each school. Program providers and principals then completed surveys to describe implementation in detail. Taken together, these surveys covered (a) school climate and discipline practices; (b) level of implementation of program components; (c) leadership style of the principal; (d) training and experience of program staff; (e) difficulties with teacher and staff recruitment or turnover; and (h) various aspects of school climate. In the present extension of this research, we have collected information about school attendance areas to merge data from the 1990 and 2000 censuses for the geographical areas served by these schools with the data collected from school personnel. Analyses will describe (a) the extent to which community characteristics are associated with school participation in the national survey, (b) the degree of convergence or divergence between community measures based on the painstakingly collected new measures of school attendance area and the more expedient community measures we have used earlier, and (c) the degree to which school disorder, school climate, and difficulty staffing schools is related to the characteristics of the community a school serves and to the extent to which the community characteristics changed between 1990 and 2000. Community social disorganization-indicated by many students from families on welfare, high community unemployment and crime rates, and a high proportion of female-headed households-is strongly linked with high rates of teacher victimization and robberies and attacks on students (G. D. Gottfredson & Gottfredson, 1985, p. 168). We found that measures of teacher-administration cooperation, fairness and clarity of school rules, and student bonding to school are associated with greater orderliness and safety when characteristics of the community and the composition of the school are statistically controlled.

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Updated 05/20/2006