Monday, December 5, 2016

The Evidence is In: 'Happy' Schools Boost Student Achievement

The Evidence is In: 'Happy' Schools Boost Student Achievement:

The Evidence is In: ‘Happy’ Schools Boost Student Achievement

school climate

A positive climate, most education stakeholders agree, is on most schools’ wish-list. Schools do not aspire, after all, to create environments that are detrimental to students and educators. But the No Child Left Behind era – a decade plus of “test and punish,” a stripped down curriculum, and narrow accountability measures – decoupled school climate from student achievement, in effect imposing a “nice schools finish last” credo. Sure, a “happy” school would be nice, but … about those test scores.
School climate and student achievement should never compete with each other, according to Ron Avi Astor, a professor of social work and education at the University of Southern California.
“By promoting a positive climate, schools can allow greater equality in educational opportunities, decrease socioeconomic inequalities, and enable more social mobility.”
Astor and three colleagues recently combed through research dating back to 2000 – 78 studies of school systems in the U.S. and overseas – and found substantial evidence that positive school climates contribute to academic achievement and can improve outcomes for students, especially those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The report was published in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, in November.
In their analysis, the authors also found no correlation between socioeconomic status and perceptions of school climate. Students in high-poverty schools were not necessarily more likely to be in adverse environments than their more affluent peers.
“It makes little sense to guage whether a student feels safe at school but not ask the teachers or administrators the same question. Everybody’s perspective matters, and that includes bus drivers, custodians, school secretaries, and, especially, parents”- Ron Avi Astor, University of Southern California
This suggests that lower-income schools can nurture more positive climates, which, explains co-author Ruth Berkowitz, “have the potential to break the negative influences that stem from poor socioeconomic backgrounds and to mitigate risk factors that threaten academic achievement.”
As a caveat, the researchers note that an obstacle to more detailed analysis is the absence of a clear and uniform definition of school climate. Without it, “the ability of researchers and stakeholders to evaluate school climate growth over time is restricted,” Astor concedes.
Despite the inconsistencies, certain attributes emerge more than others. Many educators, for example, instinctively tie school climate to school safety. But a positive school climate can also The Evidence is In: 'Happy' Schools Boost Student Achievement:


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