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Equal Attention to Learning Supports is Essential so that:​​​

  • Every student will demonstrate academic achievement and be prepared for success after high school;
  • Every student will be supported by highly prepared and effective teachers and school leaders; and
  • Every school ​will offer a safe and healthy learning ​environment for all students

"School climate refers to the quality and character of school life. It is based on patterns of school life experiences and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching, learning and leadership practices and organizational structures" (National School Climate Council). It plays a role in:

  • the adoption of new practices;
  • large transformational changes;
  • social and emotional learning;
  • the prevalence of mental health issues
  • the prevalence of school violence and bullying;
  • academic success;
  • teacher attrition; and
  • much more.

According to the National School Climate Center, most researchers agree that the essential school climate areas of focus include:​​


​Safety (e.g. rules and norms; physical safety; social-emotional safety)

Students’ sense of safety in schools impacts student learning and healthy development.

In order to improve safety, schools should:

  • review and possibly modify district discipline policies to ensure that they are fair and do not negatively impact school climate;
  • communicate and consistently enforce behavioral expectations;
  • model social, emotional, and behavioral competencies
  • teach SEL skills;
  • provide opportunities for students to practice social, emotional, and behavioral competencies; and
  • utilize environmental design​ strategies such as:
    • natural surveillance;
    • controlling access in and out of school buildings; and
    • conveying ownership of school grounds by maintaining the property and utilizing signs.

​ISBE Tools/Resources


​​Relationships (e.g. respect for diversity; school connectedness/engagement; social support– adults; social support – students; leadership);​

When students perceive that adults and friends in the school care about their learning and about them as individuals, there is a positive correlation with adolescent health and academic outcomes including school attendance. This important aspect of relationships is referred to as school connectedness. School connectedness is also a protective factor against a variety of issues including violence and drug use behaviors.

Adults in school buildings can improve school connectedness by:

  • establishing high and realistic expectations that are communicated regularly and consistently reinforced;
  • providing opportunities for meaningful participation where students and families are a part of the decision making process and have opportunities to participate in school activities;
  • dedicating time, interest, attention and emotional support to students through practices such as Classroom Meetings; and
  • encouraging personal relationships and allowing for personalized learning using a variety of strategies such as:
    • creating a structure in which teachers stay with the same students for 2-3 years;
    • developing smaller learning communities or reducing classroom size; and
    • facilitating cooperative learning activities that foster peer support.


 Teaching and Learning

School climates that promote cooperative learning, group cohesion, respect and mutual trust improve learning environments. Establishing relational trust is foundational to creating a positive school climate. Relational trust is high in schools that demonstrate the following behaviors:

  • genuine listening to what each person has to say and taking other people’s views into account in subsequent actions;
  • when disagreements occur, opinions are respected;
  • people extending themselves beyond the formal requirements of a job definition or a union contract;
  • transparency;
  • transparency;
  • competency in core role responsibilities; and
  • follow through on commitments.

School climate is positively impacted when teachers:​

  • attend to the students’ social and emotional well-being through direct skill instruction and modeling SEL competencies;
  • utilize personal student data which encompass each student’s learning style to inform teaching practices and meet the individual and collective needs of the students in his/her classroom; and
  • provide students with opportunities to apply classroom lessons to real life situations (e.g., authentic projects that embrace collaborative learning with a civic mission).

 The Institutional Environment

The Institutional Environment (e.g. physical surrounding).

The physical environment includes the school building and the area surrounding it, and conditions such as temperature, noise, lighting and air quality. The physical environment can positively or negatively impact student and teacher attitudes as well as student achievement.

Achievement tends to be lower in schools that have:

  • substandard facilities;
  • graffiti;
  • higher noise levels;
  • poor temperature regulation; and
  • poor air quality

Other conditions of the physical environment also impact the school climate, such as:

  • the size of the school;
  • placement of desks, and;
  • displays of student work.​

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