Research and Resources
Too often, academic achievement and social-emotional learning are seen as disparate and competing priorities. However, current research and a growing body of evidence demonstrate that they are interdependent and complementary. When schools understand and embrace this fundamental premise - and integrate it into their mission, plans, policies and practices - they are creating the conditions for educational success: high achievement and attendance, improved graduation rates, and reduced levels of bullying, violence and other disruptive behaviors.
Research Confirms School Climate is Key to Educational Success
In their analysis of data from more than 1800 schools over 3 years, researchers with the California Healthy Students Research Project (CHSRP) found a "strong correlation" between school climate and academic achievement. Students in the schools with the best climate (lowest exposure to bullying and violence, most caring relationships and opportunities for meaningful participation, and highest expectations) performed in the highest quintile on state tests. This relationship held true across all quintiles, even after controlling for school demographic factors like ethnicity, parental income, and parents' level of education.
Evaluation Study Confirms Effectiveness of the Safe School Ambassadors® Program
A multi-year evaluation conducted in partnership with Texas State University, San Marcos and the University of Georgia, Athens, and completed in 2011 found several statistically significant outcomes:
- Increased rates of intervention in bullying incidents by Ambassadors;
- Improved school climate among friends of Ambassadors, who also reported increased rates of intervention in bullying incidents by their peers;
- Suspension rates averaged 33% lower than pre-SSA rates at schools that implemented the program as designed, while rates at demographically matched control schools rose 10% during the same years.
Learn more about the Safe School Ambassadors® Program.
Secret Service & Other Studies Find Connectedness is Critical To Safe and High-Performing Schools
Studies of thousands of youth have shown that school connectedness is a predictor of healthy behaviors, high achievement, and school safety. For example, connected students are more likely to alert a teacher or principal if they hear a fellow student "wants to do something dangerous," according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association. In a study of 37 school shootings spanning 26 years, the Secret Service found that bystanders who came forward with information were influenced by positive relationships they had with school staff.
What is connectedness? When students say they feel close to people at school, that they belong and feel safe, and staff members treat students fairly and with respect. It is a product of the school climate. Click here for further Connectedness Studies research.
Students Best Positioned to Improve School Climate
School climate - It's visceral, palpable. It's the social-emotional tone of a school - how the people inside it treat and interact with each other - and it influences everything from student behavior to teacher morale to test scores.
Five determinants influence the climate of a school:
These five determinants provide school leaders with a framework for improving school climate. Research and field experience have shown that students are the most powerful and effective resource, readily available but greatly underutilized. Click here to read additional School Climate research.