New Surveys Aim To Assess School Climate
nonprofit has created a series of free Web-based surveys that schools
districts can use to assess the climate of their schools.
Institutes for Research (AIR) has created the ED School Climate
Surveys for the United States Department of Education that offer
educators a sophisticated analysis of school climate, measuring everything from
to the quality of the instructional environment.
surveys will be distributed to schools at no
charge. The results will be stored on AIR's Web platform and can be
locally on districts' or schools' own platforms.
surveys have been created for middle and
high school students, teachers, school staff and parents. Schools,
and states can add their own items to the surveys and use them over
time to set
benchmarks and identify trends.
to AIR representatives, school climate
encompasses a wide range of elements, from physical safety —
vandalism or fighting — and respect to caring relationships and trust.
of questions targeted at students asks them to select their response on
that ranges from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree" to statements
teachers care about me";
feel safe at this school";
teachers praise me when I work hard in
at this school stop and think before
doing anything when they get angry."
surveys are the result of two White House
initiatives, the "Now Is the Time" plan and "My Brother's Keeper Task
both designed to enhance school climate across the nation. Next year,
Education Department plans to use the surveys to create a nationally
representative sample of schools that will offer national benchmark
big reasons schools typically cite for not
doing school climate surveys is that they lack the funds to administer
the expertise to analyze them," said AIR Vice President David Osher.
project eliminates those arguments. The survey is free and the results
presented in a user-friendly language that any layperson can
Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.