Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Positive School Climate

Information regarding the importance of positive school climate and resources to improve school climate.

Why School Climate Matters

A growing body of research shows that school climate strongly influences students' motivation to learn and improve academic achievement. When school members feel safe, valued, cared for, respected, and engaged, learning increases. Schools that provide students with support to meet these basic needs allow them to grow socially and emotionally and avoid problems ranging from emotional distress to drug use to violence—in addition to helping them achieve academically.

Research on Positive School Climate and Academic Performance

School Climate and Academic Performance Across California High Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This study demonstrates how school climate, as measured by the School Climate Index, is strongly related to state Academic Performance Index (API) scores. As SCI scores increase—as high schools became safer, more supportive, and more engaging—API scores increase as well.

Positive School Climate: A Hallmark of Academically Successful Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
A study showing that middle and high schools that are able to "beating-the-odds" by performing better academically than predicted based on their student demographics are found to have much more positive levels of school climate relative to other schools.

Creating a Positive School Climate

Positive school climate must be a shared mission, created and sustained by students, parents, and school staff, and supported by the community. Efforts to improve school climate must be an integral part of school improvement plans in order to have a positive and sustainable effect. Too often, fragmented solutions are implemented, are marginalized in the school, and improvements are short-lived. In order to achieve meaningful and sustainable improvements, schools must have a clear sense of their vision and goals. Schools also need to understand the barriers to learning that their students experience beyond the school and address those barriers before students can achieve and thrive.

The Safe and Supportive School Project
A project to improve school climate and safety among 58 high schools.  

School Climate Survey

Using a school climate survey to collect school climate perception data from students, school staff, and families is the first step in creating a positive school climate. Survey results can provide schools with information about how each group of individuals perceives conditions for learning. Such information can then be used to design prevention and intervention programs specific to the needs of the school community. The California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey (CalSCHLS External link opens in new window or tab.) is a suite of school climate surveys developed for and supported by the California Department of Education to help local school districts collect school climate data.  


California Safe and Supportive Schools External link opens in new window or tab.
Resources to help schools and districts build a positive school climate and promote student mental wellness. Includes a resource library and monthly newsletters.

Questions: Hilva Chan | | 916-319-0194 
Last Reviewed: Monday, August 14, 2023