Essay Example on The importance of school climate in the school Environment

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The importance of school climate in the school environment is well established as Halpin and Croft 1963 describe it as the personality of the school while Freiberg and Stein 1999 describe it as the heart and soul of a school p 11 Literature on school climate demonstrates that school climate is associated with student academic outcomes Lee Smith 1999 Hamre Pianta 2001 Sherblom Marshall Sherblom 2006 Niehaus Rudasill Rakes 2011 and student behavioral and psychological outcomes Steffgen Recchia Viechtbauer 2013 Wang et al 2015 Thapa Cohen Higgins D Alessandro 2013 Further a positive school climate is associated with reduced peer victimization and bullying Wang Berry Swearer 2013 and less violent behavior Brookmeyer Fanti Henrich 2006 Steffgen et al 2013 There is however a long established debate on the definition of school climate and further what dimensions comprise school climate Ramelow Currie Felder Puig 2015 Thapa et al 2013 Wang et al 2015 Zullig Koopman Patton Ubbest 2010 The current study builds on Authors 2011 and addresses this dearth in the existent school climate literature in the context of addressing the psychometric properties of the Comprehensive School Climate Inventory CSCI

The CSCI was developed by the National School Climate Center NSCC in 2002 The CSCI is a unique school climate survey for several reasons It is one of the first school climate surveys that was designed to chart the social emotional civic academic and environmental aspects of student learning and school life Second it is one of the very few scientifically sound school climate surveys that are intentionally linked to a growing suite of other measurement tools and guidelines that support school climate social emotional learning and effective violence 4 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF CSCI prevention efforts Third CSCI is more extensive covering 13 dimensions of school climate than most of the other school climate assessment tools and has multi informant forms tapping the voice of student parent guardian and school personnel Hence a study of its psychometric properties is very useful to the field educators and researchers alike

The history and development of CSCI is provided in a later section below Definition and Measurement of School Climate School climate is defined most inclusively as the quality and character of school life patterns of people's experiences of school life and reflects norms goals values interpersonal relationships teaching and learning practices and organizational structures of the students learning environment Cohen McCabe Michelli Pickeral 2009 p 182 The definition of school climate has further been expanded to include safety as the National School Climate Council NSCC 2007 laid emphasis positive school climate as the norms values and expectations that support people feeling socially emotionally and physically safe p 4 Although there is a long established debate on what domains or dimensions comprise school climate reviews of school climate literature show similarities across the dimensions or domains

Thapa et al 2013 Wang et al 2015 Zullig et al 2010 For instance in a review of over 200 references Thapa et al 2013 identified five core dimensions of school climate safety e g clear and consistent rules relationships e g diversity teaching and learning e g support for professional relationships institutional environment e g adequate resources and school improvement processes i e changes made using evidence based research Zullig et al 2010 based on reviews of historical school climate measures found overlapping but different five common domains a school connectedness i e the extent to which students feel engaged and valued b order safety and discipline i e the extent that students feel safe respected 5 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF CSCI and perceive rules and fairness in the disciplinary structure c social relationships i e quality of interpersonal relationships d academic outcomes i e academic atmosphere and e school facilities i e features or conditions of the material environment Cohen et al 2009 point out that school climate instruments should be evidence based inclusive and reflect the major voices of the population as well as the multidimensional nature of school climate

Most often schools use existent measures which may not have been psychometrically validated Cohen et al 2009 Zullig et al 2010 Indeed in a review of 297 empirical studies Wang et al 2015 found only about 15 of the school climate studies focused on the development and validation of school climate measures Further although it is now acknowledged that school climate is multi dimensional few measures comprehensively measure school climate that is validation studies conducted on the school climate measures often comprise only a few dimensions of school climate Ramelow et al 2015 School climate measures often emphasize an aspect of the school environment rather than addressing the multi dimensional nature of school climate For instance the California School Climate and Safety Survey CSCSS SF is a 40 item survey which includes three scales School climate school victimization and school danger Furlong Morrison Boles 1991

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