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Safe and Supportive Schools

Supports statewide measurement of conditions for learning (school climate) and targeted programmatic interventions to improve those conditions.


In October 2010, California became one of 11 states selected to receive a Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. This four-year grant is intended to support statewide measurement of conditions for learning (known also as school climate), as well as targeted programmatic interventions to improve those conditions. The S3 grant addresses issues of school safety and bullying, substance abuse, positive relationships, other learning support, and student engagement. The grant targets California's comprehensive high schools (grades nine through twelve) with the greatest needs in multiple areas of school climate.

The four-year grant period runs from October 2010 through September 2014.

Participating Districts

Following federal grant guidelines, 95 districts with the lowest achieving high schools were invited by the California Department of Education (CDE) to participate in the S3 Program. See the 58 Participating Districts that have accepted the invitation and participated in the baseline data collection phase in 2010-11.

Project Goals

The CDE has established the following goals for S3:

  • Improve conditions for learning, including school climate and school safety, in high schools with the greatest needs, as identified by data.
  • Build local school district capacity to implement data-driven school improvements.
  • Integrate school climate reform into school-wide improvements.
  • Establish a comprehensive and sustainable model for school climate improvement to guide school and district efforts throughout the state.

Orientation Webinar

An orientation Webinar was hosted in January 2011 to provide S3 districts with an overview of the project.

Baseline Data Collection

As part of the grant requirement, participating districts must administer the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey (Cal-SCHLS) system to collect survey data among their ninth and eleventh grade students, staff, and parents in Year 1 (2011) and Year 4 (2014). Cal-SCHLS is comprised of three interrelated surveys developed for and supported by the CDE:

These surveys provide schools and districts with critical information about the learning and teaching environment, the health and well-being of students, and support for parents, school staff, and students that foster learning and school success. When used together, data from these three surveys help assess the needs, concerns, and successes of the school community—teachers, students, and parents—and allow schools and districts to compare perceptions about the status of these areas across stakeholder groups.

School Climate Index

To measure school climate and safety needs, each high school in participating districts will receive a school climate index (SCI) based on select CHKS indicators on school safety, use of alcohol and drugs at school, school connectedness, protective factors, etc., along with student incident data. To ensure accurate data representation, an SCI is only calculated when there is a response rate of at least 60 percent from the student CHKS.

A School Climate Report Card will be generated for each school receiving an SCI and will be posted annually at Data Quest, beginning in the summer of 2011. More information on the methodology for the SCI is available at Construction of California's School Climate Index for High Schools Participating in the Safe and Supportive Schools Program External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

Programmatic Intervention


Based on needs reflected by the SCI, three-year grants were awarded to a select number of high schools, based on the successful completion of a noncompetitive application process.

The CDE hosted an Application Webinar on June 8, 2011 to provide an overview on the SCI and the S3 RFA. An archive of the Webinar, along with the frequently asked questions, is available at Cal-SCHLS S3 External link opens in new window or tab. .

CDE S3 Consultants

S3 grantees should contact their assigned CDE consultant with question on grant requirements, budget changes, and submission of their annual progress reports, etc.

CDE Consultant Name Contact Information S3 Grantees Served (Counties)
Donna Bezdecheck
North Central California:
Fresno, Madera, Stanislaus, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Tulare
Hilva Chan
North Coast/Bay Area:
Alameda, Contra Costa, Humboldt, Lake, Monterey, Mendocino, San Francisco
Margarita Garcia
Southern California:
Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura

Intervention Framework

Intervention schools are expected to use grant funds to implement the following intervention framework:

  • District and school commitment
  • Integration of school climate into school improvement plans
  • Systematic data-driven decision making
  • Parent and community engagement
  • Interventions for general and at-risk populations
  • Adoption of evidence-based programs or research-based strategies

A list of the S3 intervention strategies can be found in the S3 Intervention Summary External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). 

Technical Assistance

To assist intervention schools in addressing their school climate needs, CDE contracts with WestEd to provide training and technical assistance to S3 districts and schools on (1) understanding and using data to pursue comprehensive approaches to improving school climate, (2) instilling school climate as an essential element of all school improvement efforts, and (3) identifying and selecting effective strategies to address school climate and safety needs.

Each S3 school is assigned a Technical Assistance Specialist to provide on-site training and coaching on topics such as data-driven decision making, selection of effective strategies, soliciting student voice, and building a school-wide commitment. The California S3 External link opens in new window or tab. Web site was developed to provide access to a wide range of resources and tools, guidebooks and briefs; archived Webinars; and a pool of expert consultants.

Two S3 School Climate Symposia were held in November 2012 and 2013 respectively. The symposium agenda, speaker bios, presentation slides and handouts are available from the 2012 S3 Symposium External link opens in new window or tab. and 2013 S3 Symposium External link opens in new window or tab. .

Regional school climate workshops were held in February 2015 to train schools and districts on implementing Single School Culture External link opens in new window or tab. a school transformation process to improve student attendance, reduce office referrals, gain instructional time, and improve job satisfaction and retention among teaches and other staff. This approach was successfully implemented by schools in California, Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.  

To learn more about training and resources on school climate, sign up for the School Climate Connection Newsletter External link opens in new window or tab. to receive monthly updates on school climate resources, tools, and trainings.

In addition, CDE also contracts with the California Healthy Kids Resource Center (CHKRC) External link opens in new window or tab. to provide technical assistance to S3 districts and schools on selecting programs and curricula with empirical evidence of effectiveness. The CHKRC maintains an online searchable database and a free lending of resources and materials including Selected Materials to Support School Climate Change External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).


The CDE contracts with Duerr Evaluation Resources to conduct local and statewide evaluations of the California S3 project. The evaluation report provides information on site visits and stakeholder phone interviews that collect data on implementation progress and identify technical assistance needs. The final outcome evaluations will be concluded in fall 2014 using data from Cal-SCHLS and SCRC.

Questions: Hilva Chan | | 916-319-0194 
Last Reviewed: Friday, March 6, 2015

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