School Climate Resources

School Climate

The beliefs and the "Inside-Out Approach" of Community Matters are in alignment with what numerous educational researchers have found: that positive school climate is a fundamental prerequisite for school safety, academic excellence and optimal social-emotional development. Increasingly, state and federal policy-makers are developing imperatives and mandates aimed at improving school climate to achieve better educational outcomes. The following is a sample of online resources and research on how to build and strengthen school climate:

A Model for LCAP: California’s Safe and Supportive Schools, Greg Austin, WestEd.org

Safe Supportive Learning website, American Institutes for Research

School Climate, The National School Climate Center

A Review of School Climate Research, Thapa, Cohen, Guffey, Higgins-D'Alessandro, American Educational Research Association

The Challenge of Assessing School Climate, Cohen, Pickeral, McCloskey, Educational Leadership, ASCD

What Is School Climate, Loukas, Leadership Compass, NAESP

School Climate, Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado Boulder

Restorative Practices

For more than a decade many schools have relied heavily on a zero tolerance approach to guide their discipline policies and practices. Although well intended, this methodology has been primarily unsuccessful in reducing school violence and helping students feel safe, welcome and included. Additionally, it has contributed to numerous unintended consequences such as significant increases in suspensions and expulsions, and decreases in attendance and academic achievement.

All across America, school officials are waking up to the power and potential for correcting behavior and decreasing suspensions through the use of Restorative Justice (RJ) and Restorative Practices (RP). RP/RJ is an emerging approach to justice that focuses on the power of relationships for developing social and civic responsibility, sharing accountability, and correcting harm.  When used in school settings as a preventative action, it creates an atmosphere of “connect and correct” instead of “catch and punish”.

Community Matters offers a full spectrum of RP and RJ consulting services to assist with discipline policy updates and improvements, as well as administration and staff trainings to help institute RP and RJ practices into school policies and practices. Contact us at 707-823-6159 to learn how we can help you.

Restorative Practices Resources:

Fix School Discipline website 

Fix School Discipline Educator's Toolkit PDF

A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned About Zero Tolerance in Schools, Kang-Brown, Trone, Fratello, Daftary-Kapur, Center on Youth Justice at the VERA Institute of Justice, December 2013.

Guiding Principals: A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline, US Department of Education.

Implementing Restorative Justice: A Guide for Schools, Illinois Criminal Justice information Authority

International Institute of Restorative Practices website

Restorative Justice: Resources for Schools, Matt Davis, Edutopia.com

Suspension Cost & Loss Calculator

This easy-to-use online tool shows how much time and money your school or district spends processing suspensions, and calculates the resulting revenues lost. It goes on to show, based on independent research, how much you could recover as a result of bringing Safe School Ambassadors to your campus. Click here to use the Calculator.

Our book: Safe School Ambassadors: Harnessing Student Power to Stop Bullying and Violence

Our book – for school administrators, counselors, teachers, parents and youth organization leaders – challenges conventional “outside-in” thinking and makes the case for a complementary “inside-out” approach that taps the power of students to change the social norms that permit bullying and violence to occur. Contains a wealth of data and a roadmap schools can use to empower students with tools to stop a broad spectrum of mistreatment and improve school climate. Learn more about the book or order the book here.

Funding Toolkit

Budget cuts in education constrain many schools from implementing school climate improvement programs, and external funding sources need to be identified, solicited and nurtured. New routes must be used to acquire adequate funding for services and programs that public funding used to cover. This Guide outlines a step-by-step process for identifying and securing funding from local and regional organizations, as well as tools like planning checklists, template letters to potential funders, press releases, and more. Click here to Request the Toolkit.

School Climate Survey

The School Climate Survey allows school and district leaders to probe into the social-emotional climate of a school that is typically visible only to students. It can yield information about:

  • what kinds of mistreatment are common; how students really do treat one another
  • how often those different kinds of mistreatment happen
  • where they happen
  • when they happen

That accurate knowledge is the foundation for successful planning and improvement. Learn more on the Climate Survey page.

Safe & Supportive Schools: U.S. Department of Education

The Safe & Supportive Schools Technical Assistance Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students, works to address bullying, harassment, violence, substance abuse, and other impediments to learning. The Center provides training, support, research and other resources to state-level Safe & Supportive Schools Program grantees, as well as state and district administrators, teachers, support staff, communities, families and students. Click here to visit the Center’s website.

StopBullying.gov Website

This comprehensive site features resources for educators, families and students. Includes help with understanding bullying and how to respond, as well as a compendium of state policies and laws related to bullying. Visit the Stop Bullying website.

Call 707-823-6159 to schedule a no-cost preliminary school climate assessment

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Funding Toolkit

School Administrators are invited to download our Funding Toolkit, a guide to fundraising opportunities, grant proposal sample language and sample letters to donors.

To request your copy, contact toolkit@community-matters.org.