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New Measures of Cultural Climate Available Online

By Cathy Bui - December 12, 2008

The preliminary findings of the California School Climate Survey (CSCS) are now available online.  The findings are from the first two years (2004-06) of data collected from 67,901 California school staff members on their perceptions of school climate at their school.  This is the largest set of data on staff perceptions of the teaching and learning environments at California public schools.  The State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell also announced that surveys of schools environments from the perspectives of both staff and students are being expanded to better measure schools' cultural climate, or how students and staff from diverse backgrounds experience school.

The report shows that while 62 percent of elementary school staff agreed that their school is a supportive and inviting place for students to learn, only 40 percent of high school staff agreed with this statement.

Other key findings from the survey revealed:

– The percentage of school staff that felt their school set high standards for academic performance dropped from 61 percent in elementary school to 34 percent in high school.

– Fewer than half (42 percent) of school staff felt that all adults at their school want all students to do their best; and only one-quarter reported nearly all adults in school believe every student can be a success and feel a responsibility to improve the school.

– Only about one in three high school staff who responded to the survey felt that their school is a safe place for students, and that nearly all adults at their school really care about all students.

– Only about one in four to five high school staff strongly agreed that their school provided adequate counseling and effective behavior referral services, had sufficient resources for safety, and handled discipline and behavioral problems effectively.

The full CSCS report is available online at the California School Climate Survey Web site [http://www.wested.org/cscs/].

Editor's Note: Cathy Bui  conducts legislative and policy reserach on education issues for Governmental Solutions Group, LLC in Sacramento.