The School Climate Transformation Project (SCTP) supports public K-12 schools and districts in New Jersey in implementing a data-driven school climate change process to promote systems-level change and the development of inclusive and positive school climates. The SCTP developed the New Jersey School Climate Improvement (NJ SCI) Survey, which is administered through an online platform (NJ SCI Platform). Through online data collection tools, resources, professional development opportunities, and consultation, the SCTP supports school leadership teams in using data to develop a comprehensive plan for addressing school climate needs and implementing and monitoring school climate improvement efforts. Public districts and schools in the state of New Jersey can express interest in accessing these no-cost resources by completing an interest form at njschoolclimate.org. The SCTP is a partnership between the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) and the Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology.
What is School Climate?
School climate encompasses the dynamic and diverse feelings, perceptions, and impressions of school community members – in other words, the quality or experience of how it feels to be a part of the school community from one’s unique identity and perspective, as well as in interaction with other members of the community. Perceptions of school climate can change over time and are shaped by factors at various levels. At the broadest level, national and societal events and conditions can influence policies and procedures at the state and local levels, which can shape teaching and learning conditions in schools. Smaller group contexts within schools, like classrooms, can also have their own climates (referred to as “microclimates”) and norms of behavior in response to various environmental influences.
Approaching school climate within this framework attends to the ways race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (i.e., class), gender, sexuality and other social factors operate within and across contexts to shape school environments and individuals’ experiences. This lens best positions schools and districts to understand diversity, equity, and inclusion as core characteristics of school climate and culture, which are central to the design and delivery of effective efforts to address school needs.
Research consistently shows the importance of promoting a positive school climate for all students, staff, and parents/caregivers*. Positive school climates promote higher levels of student academic achievement and foster the physical, psychological, and social and emotional well-being of both students and staff. Promoting the overall well-being of all staff and students creates conditions for effective teaching and learning that lead to more positive student academic and developmental outcomes.
*Bohanon, Flannery, Malloy & Fenning, 2009; Brand, Felner, Seitsinger, Burns & Bolton, 2007; Cohen, McCabe, Michelli & Pickeral, 2009; Hosford & O’Sullivan, 2016; Kutsyuruba, Klinger, & Hussain, 2015; Thapa, Cohen, Guffy, & Higgins-D’Alessandro, 2013; Wang & Degol, 2015.
Sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Education, Division of Educational Services, in collaboration with the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; funded 94% by IDEA, Part B and 6% by Title IV, Part A.