The Positive Learning Climates KnowledgeBase

Element 1: Understand the Law

Purpose: In addition to addressing academic rigor, instructional strategies, teacher qualifications, and class size, the learning environment plays an equally important role in improving student academic achievement. The first step in creating a positive learning climate is understanding the laws addressing school safety. Element 1 offers basic information on the legal aspects of school safety.

Activity 1: Become Familiar with the Legal Aspects Concerning Safer Schools

Activity 2: Understand Legal Implications for Schools and School Personnel

Task 2: Collect Student Behavior Data


Guideline: Collecting student behavior data is the basic step in understanding behavior issues in a school. It is important for the principal to have a handle on this data collection. In addition to looking at the totals for all students, it is beneficial to disaggregate it for the following subgroups: age groups, gender, economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency. Disaggregated, the behavior data can be matched with the academic performance data for each subgroup.

Collecting and Using Data

This resource provides an overview of the U.S. Department of Education's handbook "Safety in Numbers: Collecting and Using Crime, Violence, and Discipline Incident Data to Make a Difference in Schools" along with a link to the complete document. The handbook defines a comprehensive data system for collecting incident data and identifies issues associated with making such a system work.

Bullying at School and Cyber-Bullying Anywhere

This link to the Indicators of School Crime and Safety report addresses the incidence of bullying in school and cyberbullying.


Indicators of School Crime and Safety

This annual report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics examines crime occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school.


Monitoring the Future Survey

The Monitoring the Future Survey, conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, has tracked 12th graders' illicit drug use and attitudes toward drugs since 1975.

Element 2: Know Your School and Community

Purpose: Assessing the school's learning climate involves looking at student behavior, school culture, physical environment, family and community involvement, and interactions with other government agencies. Element 2 outlines the tasks involved in creating a profile of the school's learning climate.

Activity 1: Take a Snapshot of School and Community

Activity 2: Identify Focus Areas

Element 3: Create a Comprehensive Positive School Climate

Purpose: Addressing school climate is an important aspect of improving academic performance. Taking a comprehensive look at a school's climate addresses focus areas that merit attention and communicates intended methods and strategies to the staff members, students, and other relevant constituent groups. Element 3 outlines the tasks involved with creating a positive school climate.

Activity 1: Plan to Act

Activity 2: Develop Methods and Strategies

Activity 3: Identify Resources Required to Accomplish Goals

Activity 4: Document Methods and Strategies

Element 4: Implement Strategies

Purpose: Improvement is achieved through the effective implementation of chosen strategies. To be successful, the principal should monitor the school's progress towards implementing the selected strategies. Element 4 outlines the steps for implementing the strategies aimed at improving a school's climate.

Activity 1: Manage Implementation

Activity 2: Accomplish Change

Activity 3: Evaluate Outcomes

Element 5: Communicate with School's Constituencies

Purpose: What happens in school is community news and sometimes even draws national attention. A district's and school's communication strategies should address how behavioral incidents are handled. Element 5 provides information on communicating with the school's constituencies.

Activity 1: Develop a Communications Strategy

Activity 2: Execute Communications Strategy