Making the Connection: Linking Students' Perceptual Measures of School Climate to Academic Performance

Dorian Wilson, University of Colorado - Boulder

ABSTRACT
Despite multiple studies (see Hawkins, Farrington and Catalano, 2000 for review) describing the connection between school climate and academic achievement, preliminary findings from the Safe Communities ~ Safe Schools project indicate that many schools in Colorado are reluctant to embrace the idea of improving school climate as a means of enhancing students' academic performance. As such, programs directed at school climate are considered ancillary, at best, to a narrow focus on basic skills and higher test scores, and schools often overlook this necessary precondition to students' academic achievement. This presentation explores the link between social environments in school and academic achievement. The research examines data from eight middle schools in a district in southwestern Colorado. It uses several standardized measures of academic performance and a survey of self-reported indicators of school climate, in addition to selected disciplinary referrals and school reported measures of delinquency. Preliminary research with a much larger sample of Colorado schools showed only qualified links between the variables. However, the purpose of this research is to assess the magnitude of the connection between school climate and academic achievement.

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Updated 05/20/2006