Enhancing School Learning Climate: Theory, Research and Practice
by Dr. Larry Sackney
Department of Educational Administration
University of Saskatchewan,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
SSTA Research Centre Report #180: 146 pages, $17
A report with recommendations prepared under the auspices of the Saskatchewan School Trustees Association Research Centre

Note: The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and may or may not be in agreement with SSTA officers or trustees, but are offered as being worthy of consideration by those responsible for making decisions.
Table of Contents 





In the summer of 1986 the SSTA approached the researcher to prepare a monograph on school climate which would reflect current thinking, research and practice.  
This monograph covers a broad conceptualization of school climate, a review of the literature, and an elaboration of specific strategies and activities through which a school can improve its climate and thereby enhance student achievement. Additionally, the monograph includes specific examples of climate improvement activities from schools and school systems across Canada.  
Special acknowledgements are expressed to numerous individuals who supported the efforts in producing this monograph. In particular, appreciation is expressed to all the Directors and Principals who responded to the researcher's request for information. Much more was sent than could ever be used.  
I express my appreciation to the School Trustees Association, for financial support and the opportunity to prepare such a report.  
Rod Dolmage was instrumental in preparing a summary of climate activities from the various responses received; Lori Hrytzak did all the wordprocessing with skillful efficiency; and Kevin Wilson made helpful suggestions.  
I extend my sincere appreciation to all those who assisted.  
Any errors or gaps in the monograph are my responsibility.  
L. Sackney  
Department of Educational Administration  
June 1988

Chapter 1

The past decade has witnessed an acute interest by researchers and practitioners as to the effects of schooling on students. In particular the emphasis has been on how schools can improve student achievement and the quality of school life. This interest has become particularly focussed as a result of the literature on school effectiveness (sometimes referred to as ..school development", "school improvement", or "school effects"). A sizable body of literature, both theoretical and empirical, has dealt with such concerns using the school climate construct (Anderson, 1982). School climate research, according to Anderson (1982), ... is clearly the stepchild of both organizational climate research and school effects research, having inherited instruments, theory and methods from both research paradigms" (p. 368). Despite this relationship, Anderson argues that the construct school climate can be distinguished as a separate entity.

This review is intended as an update on the development and current status of school climate research, as well as its theory and practice. It presents findings about the sources and consequences of school climate, as well as some models that are being used to improve climate. As such, this monograph is designed for teachers, administrators and policymakers who are concerned with improving the learning climate of their school. A special emphasis has been placed on project developments within the Canadian context.

Consequently, this monograph deals with the following issues:

(1) definition of the construct;

(2) conceptualization and measurement of school climate;

(3) problems in the measurement and application of the school climate construct;

(4) relationship between school climate and school effectiveness;

(5) research on the attributes of school climate;

(6) relationship between school climate and school culture;

(7) models of climate improvement; and

(8) examples of school climate improvement projects within the Canadian context.

Although the concept school climate has been studied extensively, there is a lack of agreement as to the definition of the construct. Terms such as "atmosphere" or "feelings" or simply "climate" are used with imprecision. Some allude to the "tone", "setting", or "milieu" of the school (Tagiuri., 1988). In recent years some researchers have chosen to use the term .. culture" (Purkey and Smith, 1983; Deal, 1985) and "school ethos" (Rutter et al., 1979) in referring to the internal characteristics of the school. Still others use the term "the psychological context" in which organizational behaviour is embedded (Hoy and Miskel, 1987).

Halpin and Croft (1963) developers of the Organizational Description Questionnaire (OCDQ) used this analogy to describe climate: "Personality is to the individual what climate is to the organization" (p.1). Similarly, Nevankwo (1979) referred to climate as "the we-feeling, group sub-culture or the interactive life of the school" (P.268).

Anderson (1982) chose as an organizing device for reviewing the literature on school climate Tagiuri's (1968) taxonomy of climate related terms. Tagiuri defined climate as the total environmental quality within an organization. Accordingly, his dimensions of environment includes its ecology (the physical and material components), its milieu (the social dimension of people), its social system (the patterned relationships in the organization), and its culture (the belief systems, values cognitive structures, and meanings).

Others have included dimensions such as behavior settings, organizational structure, context of the situation and characteristics of the individuals within the environment. However, Anderson (1982) argues that Tagiuri's system is preferable to others because "it reflects the growing consensus of many climate researchers that school climate includes the total environmental quality within a given school building" (P.369).

In a similar vein, Hoy and Miskel (1987) defined organizational climate as "the set of internal characteristics that distinguishes one school from another and influences the behavior of people" (p.225). They further concede that the climate is the end product of the school groups - students, teachers, administrators - as they work to balance the organizational and individual aspects of a social system" (p.225-227). As such, people experiencing a particular climate share certain values, social beliefs and social norms. Their definition is similar to that offered by Tagiuri and Litwin (1968).

Thus, for our purposes, Tagiuri and Litwin's (cited in Owens, 1981, p.193) modified definition will be used. We shall consider school climate to be a relatively enduring quality of the internal environment of the school that: (a) is experienced by the members (students, teachers, administrators, secretaries, consultants and custodians), (b) influences their behavior, and (c) can be described in terms of the values, norms and beliefs of a particular set of attributes of the school. In this monograph we will be especially concerned with those institutional patterns and behavioral practices that enhance or impede student achievement. Moreover, this definition implies that we are concerned about the educational environment of the entire school. It is recognized that there are other educational environments (e.g. the individual classroom).


Even if one can agree on a conceptualization of climate and its definition, a number of issues must be addressed:

(1) How does one describe objectively (i.e., assess, measure) the climate in a given school? What, for example, are the variables that create various climates, and how can they be measured (and, thus described)?

(2) Is there a relationship between the climate of the school and the effectiveness of the school?

(3) How does one go about predicting and controlling the climate of the school? If we do (1) and (2), how do we shape and control the development of climate in a planned way?

(4) Do the variables used to describe climate constitute a mediated, additive or interactive basis?

(5) What is the level of data that we require for each variable?

(6) Can participants' subjective judgments be accurate in defining climate as an objective matter?

It appears that in order to describe and assess the climate of a school requires that: (1) we know clearly what the key factors are in the interaction - influence system; (2) we create data collection methods to describe these factors; and (3) we devise procedures for analyzing and displaying the data so that we can be informed. Subsequent sections of this review will address these issues.

It is not the intention of this monograph to provide a comprehensive review of all of the research and instruments used in climate research. Rather, the intention is to describe the range of instruments available and to refer briefly to the more important conceptualizations of a school's climate.

Anderson (1982) points out that school climate research owes much to the work done in business and university contexts as well as the later work on classroom climates. These threads are briefly reviewed.

The Business Context

Much of the work has focussed on the pervasive influence of an organization's environment on such aspects as employee morale, productivity and turnover (e.g., Argyris, 1958; Porter and Lawler, 1968). Business, in particular, was concerned with increasing productivity by examining the situational characteristics that impacted on individual behavior.

The recognition of the importance of the environment however raised a number of other related concerns: (1) the validity of perceptual versus objective climate measures; (2) climate as a reflection of organizational versus individual attributes; and (3) the distinction between perception and attitude (Anderson, 1982).

The College Context

Various instruments have been developed for College use. These stem in part from the student problems that were prevalent in the colleges during the 1960's and early 1970's. The first instrument, the College Characteristics Index (CCI), was developed by Pace and Stern (1958) to measure the college "press" (pressures being exerted by the schools as perceived by students). Behavior was seen as a function of congruencies between press and need (measured by the Activities Index (AI)). The theory for the instruments was based on the work of Murray (1938), who hypothesized that individuals will respond differently to environmental presses depending on their individual needs.

Subsequent modifications of the CCI resulted in other college environment instruments. These include: (1) the Organizational Climate Index (OCI) developed by Stern and Steinhoff (1965) which provides a profile of the school based on development and control; (2) the College Characteristics Analysis (CCA) which attempts to differentiate administrator, staff and student press; and (3) the Inventory of College Characteristics (ICC) used to differentiate students on the basis of their level of aspiration.

The Classroom Context

According to Anderson (1982), in the late 1960's a number of researchers focussed their attention on the classroom. Many of these instruments share their theoretical grounding in Murray's (1938) work with environmental press. Examples of instruments developed includes: (1) the Classroom Environment Scale (CES); (2) the Learning Environment Inventory (LEI) and (3) the My Class Inventory (MCI). Moo's (1979) describes in detail the usage of these instruments.

Major School Climate Instruments

Only the major instruments will be mentioned, as most climate researchers either use these or derive their own from them. For a more extensive description of climate instruments see Anderson's (1982, pp. 374-383) review.

Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire, (OCDQ). Perhaps the most used and over-used school climate instrument is the OCDQ developed by Halpin and Croft (1963). Based on the consensus of staff perception, the instrument is usually administered to the entire school staff. Each respondent is asked to describe the extent to which each statement characterizes his or her school using a four-point scale (rarely occurs, sometimes occurs, often occurs, and very frequently occurs).

The instrument contains sixty-four items grouped into eight subtests. Four subtests describe teacher-teacher interactions and four subtests describe teacher-principal interactions. An example of the teacher-teacher subtest is "The morale of the teachers is high", while a teacher-principal subtest contains items such as "The principal sets an example by working hard".

Halpin and Croft not only identified the eight subtests to map the profile of the climate of each school, but through factor analysis identified six basic clusters of profiles along a continuum. The six climate types were described as autonomous, controlled, familiar, paternal, closed and open.

Subsequent validity studies have shown that the individual subtests are more predictive of the school's climate than the overall climate categories (Andrews, 1965). Furthermore, apart from the open-closed climate classifications, the middle classifications are of questionable validity (Thomas, 1976). The OCDQ was essentially designed for elementary schools. Subsequent validity studies have challenged its utility for large high schools. Recently, Kottkamp et al. (1987) reported a revision of the OCDQ to make it valid for use in secondary school climate assessment.

Pupil-Control Ideology (PCI). The PCI was developed by Willower, Eidell and Hoy (1967) to measure teacher and principal orientation to pupil control. They postulated a pupil-control continuum from custodial to humanistic.

The PCI is completed by teachers and consists of twenty items using a Likert-type scale with five response categories (from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree"). Examples of items from the PCI include:

"Pupils often misbehave in order to make the teacher look bad."

"Pupils can be trusted to work together."

"Being friendly with pupils often leads them to become too familiar."

A school using the custodial orientation would operate from a controlled, impersonal, and order-oriented environment. A humanistic-oriented school, on the other hand, would operate from an interactive, self-disciplined and open communicative mode.

Perhaps the strength of the instruments is, as pointed out by Hoy and Miskel (1982), that it "allows another view of the school climate, one that focuses on teacher-student relations rather than principal-teacher relations" (p.202). Additionally, pupil-control orientation suggests a great deal about the nature of teacher-teacher and teacher-principal behavior.

Profile of Organizational Characteristics (POC). Likert (1961) developed the POC as an indicator of superordinate-subordinate relationships in organizations. Essentially the managerial systems fall into four categories: System 1 Exploitive-Authoritative, System 2 - Benevolent-Authoritative, System 3 - Consultative, and System 4 - Participative. The instrument incorporates eight characteristics that focus on leadership processes, motivational forces, communication processes, interaction-influence processes, the decision-making processes, goal setting processes, control processes, and performance goals. These eight variables can be used to map the profile of the school and place it on a continuum from exploitive-authoritative to participative systems. Sample items adopted by Hoy and Miskel (1982, p. 196-197) are:

3. Character of communication                                                         1             2             3                     4
                Amount of interaction and communication aimed at                 Very         Little         Quite             Both
                achieving organization's objectives                                            Little                         a Bit             with
                                                                                                                                                                    and groups
          4. Character of interaction influence process
                Amount of cooperative teamwork present                                None     Relatively     A moderate A substantial
                                                                                                                                little                 amount     amount

Likert and Likert have used their system variables to develop the Profile of a School (POS) instrument. The POS comes in several versions and can be used with teachers, administrators and students to map the perceptions of the school climate.

Sample items from the POS include:

(1) Teacher Questionnaire:
  Very Little   Some   Considerable   Very Great  
To what extent are you involved in major decisions 

related to your work?

How much does the principal try to help 

you with your problems?"


(2) Student Questionnaire  
  Rarely   Sometimes   Often   Very Often  
How often is the behavior of your teachers friendly and supportive?"
How well do your teachers know the problems you face in your school work?"
Owens (1981, pp. 217-218) argues that the POS has strong empirical support, and that the questionnaires have validity and reliability. He feels that the POS will get increased usage from researchers and practitioners in the future.

Needs - Press Instruments. A number of needs-press type of instruments have been developed for schools. Stern (1970) reported the High School Characteristics Index (HSCI) used to measure press in high schools. Similarly Sinclair (1970) developed the Elementary School Environment Survey (ESES). The ESES uses student perceptions of teachers and peer values and attitudes in an attempt to derive the profiles of schools. Finally, My School Inventory (MSI) was adopted from My Class Inventory (MCI) for use with elementary students.

The Quality of School Life (QSL). Epstein and McPartland (1976) developed the QSL on the basis of their belief that school life is affected by the formal and informal aspects of schooling, by the social and task-related experiences, and by the relationships with peers and authority figures (p.16). The instrument has been used at all levels of schooling.

Sample items from the QSL include:

I am very happy when I am in school.

I hardly ever do anything very exciting in school.

" My teacher cares about my feelings."

Many school systems have been using modified versions of the QSL. The utility of the instrument is that it provides an additional perspective of the school, namely that of the most important participants, the students. Examples of QSL type instruments are provided in Chapter 2.

Alienation and self-concept scales. Seeman's (1959) framework for analyzing alienation has been used most frequently. He identified five dimensions of alienation: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and self-estrangement.

Hoy and Miskel (1982) report a number of studies that relate dimensions of alienation and self-concept to other climate scales such as the OCDQ and PCI. They conclude that the climate of the schools and the students' sense of involvement and identification in the school "are important factors in the students' educational growth and development" (p. 208).

Attitude surveys. Many school systems have modified or adapted previous instruments to serve their own needs. Typical of this approach are the attitude surveys of the Edmonton Public School System. Examples of these attitude surveys are shown in Chapter 2. A number of schools and school systems are moving in the direction where all stakeholders (students, teachers, administrators, custodians, secretarial, paraprofessional and parents) are sampled in an attempt to ascertain the climate of the school or district.

In conclusion,. What can we say about the instruments used to measure school climate? Anderson (1982), using Tagiuri's taxonomy concluded that most of the instruments tap the social systems and cultural dimensions. Much less attention is paid to the ecology and milieu dimensions.

RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN CLIMATE AND SCHOOL. EFFECTIVENESS Do various school climates produce different student outcomes? At present there is no significant body of research in which the variables are fully controlled. As outlined in the issues section, we do not know whether the variables constitute a mediated, additive or interactive basis. Therefore discussion is in the realm of association of significant variables (analogous to smoking and cancer).

Studies have identified the human organizational attributes that differentiate the more effective from the less effective schools. There is, however, a substantial body of research indicating that the effectiveness of schools, in terms of student learning and development, is significantly influenced by the quality and characteristics of the school climate. Owens (1981) argues.-

Not surprisingly, the research suggests that schools that emphasize supportive, open communications, collaboration, intellectuality, and that reward achievement and success outperform (in terms of achievement, attendance, drop-out rate, frustration, alienation) those that emphasize constraint, restrictiveness, rigidity, coldness, lack of excitement and reward conformity (P.266). From a research basis, we are dealing with two variables (Owens, 1981). School climate and the internal attributes of the school (e.g., leadership style, decision making style, etc.) constitute the independent variables. The dependent variables, on the other hand, constitute the indicators of organizational effectiveness. These can be both objective (e.g., test scores, drop-outs, absences, etc.) and subjective (e.g., attitude surveys, ratings, etc.). This review attempts to ferret out those variables that appear to be associated with positive student outcomes. As such, the research findings encroach on the literature in the teacher effects and school effects domain. RESEARCH FINDINGS ON SCHOOL CLIMATE DETERMINANTS School climate research may be divided into academic climate and social climate. The latter is sometimes referred to as the "cultural dimension." Norms, processes, and structures in the academic climate directly impact on quality instruction and student performance. Social climate norms, processes, and structures indirectly impact on student learning by making the school's activities important to students.

From a research review of climate attributes a model of school climate determinants will be presented. Consequently some related variables (e.g., teacher effects, structural, etc.) will be initially presented.

School Facility Characteristics

Current research does not report any relationship between the age of the building and student outcomes (attendance, achievement, and behaviour). On the other hand, a number of studies (e.g., Rutter et al., 1979; PDK, 1980) have noted that behaviour and academic attainment tended to be better when the school was clean and in good decorative condition. Rutter et al. (1979) found an inverse relationship between the amount of student work displayed and graffiti in the building.

Generally schools exhibiting a positive ethos are clean and tidy. They not only exhibit much student work, but one also finds many pictures, plants, posters and icons that help depict the school ethos. Evidence of the importance of academic symbols are clearly visible throughout the school.

There is some initial research evidence that indicates that landscaping the school grounds results in better student behaviour. It should be pointed out that where this attribute has been investigated, teachers, parents and students have been involved in the process. In this regard it would be interesting to study student behavior in South Australia where many schools have embarked on school grounds improvement projects. Activities such as planting trees, shrubs, flowers, grassing, supergraphics on school walls, building of flower boxes, patios, barbecues and decorative walls, have been undertaken.

Safe and Orderly Environments

Murphy et al (1985) claim that "effective schools maintain a safe and orderly environment for learning" (P. 368). They contend that there are two parts to this variable. The first part refers to the climate wherein students and staff are free from the danger of harm to themselves or their property. In other words, students do not feel threatened or afraid to walk about the school, rather they feel secure and comfortable.

A second aspect of this attribute is that the school has a systematic set of discipline policies and practices. Effective schools tend to emphasize a few major rules that are specific and easy to understand, and that have been agreed to by students, teachers and parents. The emphasis is on consistency of behaviour expectations since the policies were agreed to by all stakeholders. Murphy et al. (1985) indicate that the consequences of breaking rules "are incremental in nature, immediate, hard to avoid, and consistent throughout the school" (p. 368). Furthermore, administrators support the discipline effort of teachers to ensure a total school approach. Finally, it should be pointed out that there is a regular review of school policies and practices.

Opportunities For Student Participation

Several studies (e.g. Rutter et al., 1979; Wynne, 1980) have noted the importance of using opportunities for student responsibility and participation. Rutter et al. (1979) found that schools which gave students tasks of responsibility were associated with better pupil behaviour, better attendance, less delinquency and higher achievement. The key aspect of this variable includes opportunities for students to learn responsibility, to practice leadership behavior, to identify with adult role models, and to learn the skills of participation (Murphy et al., 1985). As students are able to take responsible roles, and achieve satisfaction from them, so they become more likely to identify with educational objectives. Successful schools ensure that a variety of class and school-wide activities are planned in which students can participate.

A further aspect of this variable includes the sharing of activities between staff and students outside of the classroom situation. Such activities help each to appreciate the other better and to share some of the same goals. Whether the activities are a student-staff volleyball game, or a staff, student and parent breakfast event, all serve to tie the school into a closely knit community. In other words, the school climate is strengthened.

Use of Rewards and Praise

The use of a clear, concise reward system has been associated with higher levels of achievement (Rutter et al., 1976; Wynne, 1980). In effective schools, there are numerous opportunities, both within the classroom and on a school-wide basis, for students to be honored for their efforts. In these schools, students receive rewards for academics, citizenship, participation, governance, sports, and service, but the most prestigious rewards are reserved for academics (Murphy et al., 1985). Although rewards may be given in a variety of ways (e.g., token, symbolic, and social), all rewards are designed to reinforce important school goals and norms.

Effective schools counter the effects of any contra-school peer group influences by increasing the rewards and satisfaction open to less able students and in that way ensuring that their particular needs are met. Such an approach ensures that all students have an opportunity to receive awards and experience success.

In effective schools teachers know how to use rewards and praise. They tend to maintain more praise than criticism and they recognize that praise is effective only when teachers are "significant others" in the lives of their students. They know their students and take an active interest in them as individuals.

High Expectations

High expectations have been related to school effectiveness more consistently than any other variable (e.g., Edmunds, 1979; Rutter et al., 1979). In essence, high expectations refers to a climate where the staff expect all students to do well, believe in their ability to influence student achievement, and are held accountable for student learning. This expectation is translated into specific school and classroom policies, practices and behaviors. For example, teachers with high expectations for student learning will emphasize punctuality, time-on-task, completion of assignments, willingness to see pupils about problems at any time, and mastery learning.

High expectations on the part of the principal for staff performance (as well as students) has also been associated with student outcomes (Edmonds, 1979; Brookover & Lezotte, 1979; PDK, 1980). Some researchers suggest that these expectations are related to teacher accountability. Whatever the reasons, high expectations for teacher performance has been identified as a crucial variable in student outcomes.

There are specific behaviors that principals engage in that elicit high expectations. These include: (1) being an assertive instructional leader, (2) being an excellent role model, (3) having a well articulated school mission, (4) planning and decision-making through collaborative processes, (5) emphasizing the importance of academics, (6) maintaining an ongoing, effective staff development program, and (7) regularly receiving and discussing staff performance. Additionally, effective principals tend to be assertive, more effective disciplinarians, and more inclined to assume responsibility.

Collegial Organizational Processes

Murphy et al. (1985), in reviewing the research on collegial organizational processes, contend that the most important are open communications, shared decision making, confrontation of conflict situations, collaborative planning, and the building of consensus. Various studies (e.g., Rutter et al., 1979; Wynne, 1980; PDK, 1980) have noted the relationship between staff involvement in decision making and student achievement. Rutter et al. (1980) also noted the beneficial effects of giving students a role in decision making. Increased participation in decision making encouraged students to accept school norms.

Wynne (1980) has noted the importance of good communication in effective schools. Good communication is important because it provides feedback for decision making, which then affects climate. Good communication means there is trust, respect, openness and caring from the participants. Each participant in the process does not attempt to hide information from the other.

Murphy et al. (1985) make two additional points about collegial relations. First, that the primary focus of these collegial processes is on academic matters, not social relations. Secondly, that collegial relations work well in combination with strong leadership. Typically in effective schools principals tend to emphasize collaboration, participation and consensus.

Student-Staff Cohesion and Support

Good student-teacher relationships are important attributes of schools with good climate. Wynne (1980) indicated the importance of good relationships and extra-curricular activities as contributing to a school's coherence. Shared activities by staff and students encourages students to accept the school norms (Rutter et al., 1979). Duke and Perry (1978) noted that good student-teacher relationships were associated with good behavior, while the PDK study (1980) found these relationships to be associated with academic achievement. The latter study found that where the student-teacher relations were good, students tended to work harder and to enjoy their schoolwork more.

Evidence of cohesion and support between staff and students can be seen in such areas as staff commitment to co-curricular activities, teacher-student interactions outside the classroom, and the willingness of teachers to work with students outside of regular class time. In order to tap this dimension, schools have used attitude surveys. Examples are provided in Chapter 2 of this report.

Staff Relationships

Teacher relationships have also been suggested as important climate variables. Rutter et al. (1979) and the PDK (1980) studies indicate that in effective schools teacher cooperation and concern is high. Similarly, Wynne (1980) found that positive school climate was associated with the amount of socialization among faculty.

It appears that in schools where staff appreciate one another, where they share, and plan together, then the payoff is a positive school climate. This attitude seems to carry over into their relationship with students.

Administrator-Teacher Relationships

Research appears to support the notion that the relationship of administrators with teachers is important in creating a climate for achievement. The New York State Study (1976) and the Ellet and Walberg (1979) study both found that administrator-teacher relationships were positively related to student achievement.

It should be noted that much of the literature talks about collaboration, group planning and shared decision-making as aspects of administrator-staff relationships. Good relationships also imply that there is consensus on school goals and student outcomes. These relationships focus on academic aspects, and not necessarily social relations.

Home-School Cooperation and Support

Rutter et al (1979) found that the extent to which school staff and parents work together to promote student learning is related to school effectiveness. The PDK (1980) study also reported that this variable relates to student achievement.

Murphy et al. (1985) believe that school-home relations are a function of four activities and processes:

First there is frequent communication from the school about what parents can do to help the school reach its goals. Effective schools often have a clear set of expectations for parents. Second, there is structured parent input into school goals and decisions. Third, there are opportunities for parents to participate in school functions and activities, including classroom instruction. Fourth, there are opportunities for parents to learn about school programs, develop parenting skills, and learn how they can work with their children at home on academic subjects (P. 368). In essence, parents are active participants in their child's schooling.

Student Morale

Anderson (1982) in summarizing the literature on student morals concluded that as an aggregate characteristic, morale is related to both achievement and self-concept. Brookover et al. (1979) in their study reported a relationship between student academic self-concept and achievement. Others such as Licata et al. (1978) reported that student sense of alienation was related to climate.

Typically in any school one can get a sense of student morale through indicators such as self-concept scales and climate instruments, as well as through student behaviors such as cooperation, language usage, attendance, completion of work, and participation in school activities. Student morale also seems to be a function of student perceptions that teachers care (Brookover et al., 1979). Where teachers take a genuine interest in students as individuals, climate and academic performance appears to be better.

Peer Norms

Peer norms have always been considered to influence learning outcomes. Parents have traditionally always held this belief. Brookover and Schneider (1975) found that if the student body values academic learning then the sense of "academic futility" was minimized. Brookover et al. (1979) and McDill and Rigsby (1973), on the other hand, contend that a sense of futility contributed the most variance in achievement. Coleman et al. (1966) study which subsequently led to the desegregation of American schools, showed that peer view of academics and aspirations greatly affected achievement and subsequent career plan. There is a large body of literature that deals with peer norms, which is beyond the realm of this review. Suffice it to say that peer pressure is extremely powerful in influencing student behavior. Consequently the need for ensuring that the peer norms and the school culture are compatible is of vital importance.

Instructional Leadership

Principal involvement in instruction has been shown to be related to both climate and learning outcomes. Young (1980), in reviewing the literature in this area, concluded that this variable affected not only student achievement, but school climate as well.

It is particularly important that the principal signal to the teachers the need for effective instruction, and to the students the need to learn. A school focussed approach to instruction results in improved climate and student learning outcomes.

In that much of what an effective principal does has been covered under the attribute high expectations, it is not necessary to repeat the comments here.

Teaching Skills

The importance of the teacher in the classroom cannot be overemphasized. The effective teaching research (see for example, Berliner, 1984; Porter and Brophy, 1988) emphasizes the importance of the teacher in providing a climate conducive to learning.

The effective teacher is one whose classroom and curriculum is "managed" and all activities are purposeful and carried out in an orderly and "business-like" environment. There is evidence of short and long-term planning.

Teacher presentation skills show good structuring behaviors. Moreover, the curriculum and materials are appropriate to the students' ability levels, and emphasis is on mastery learning (Edmonds, 1979; Rutter et al., 1979; Berliner, 1984).

Effective teachers tend to utilize more interactive teaching or direct instruction. Emphasis is placed on high academic engaged time (both teachers and students). Mackenzie (1983) in summarizing the literature in this area states:

All (researchers) agree in proposing that the master variable of pedagogy is the amount and intensity of student engagement in appropriate learning tasks. This is a result of a case of teacher-centered activities, or, more pointedly, of teacher involvement with students as opposed to paperwork or neutral monitoring ... (p.12). At the same time, the instruction is conducted in a climate where learning is fun. The students enjoy learning, enjoy their teacher, and each other. The classroom is an exciting and stimulating place to be.

Moreover, the research literature shows that the effective teacher has a higher teacher-student interaction ratio compared to the ineffective teacher. The number of questions asked tends to be higher and a higher number of them tend to be directed questions (Berliner, 1984). The effective teacher not only engages more students in classroom instruction, but also tends to utilize a longer wait time that leads to longer and more accurate answers. Finally, Redfield and Rosseau (1981) found that the effective teacher tends to ask more higher-order questions which results in students who achieve considerably more.

I had purposefully left this variable to the last, although it should have been placed first. Our work with school improvement has led us to conclude that what happens in the classroom is an important first-step to establishing a climate conducive to learning. A good teacher can always overcome many other impediments to effective schooling. The teacher is also the first contact that the student has in a formal setting. Much of what happens there carries over to the rest of the school.

Ronald Edmonds was reputed to have stated that "he knew of a few bad schools with good principals, but he did not know of any good schools with bad principals". I would similarity like to state that I know no schools with a good climate where there were bad teachers, but I do know of schools with a good climate where there were good teachers. In essence what I am saying is that good teachers can overcome many obstacles in any school.

TOWARDS A CONCEPTUALIZATION OF SCHOOL CLIMATE In that school climate is a step child of the school effects and teacher effects research, Figure 1 represents a conceptualization of the attributes that impact on a school's climate. The dimensions and attributes were derived from a


Figure 1. Attributes of a Positive School Climate

review of the research literature. Climate has been perceived as consisting of two dimensions: an academic climate and a social climate. Each of these in turn comprise a number of attributes which when taken together will result in a positive school climate.

The academic climate is a resultant of how the school uses rewards and praise, the effectiveness of the teachers and the principal, and the collaborative processes that exist within the school. The social climate, on the other hand, is a resultant of the appearance, comfort and orderliness of the school facility, the opportunities students have for participation in the school program, the peer norms that are prevalent and the nature of the administrative staff-student cohesion and support systems. Taken together, the dimensions and attributes contribute to a positive school climate.

In that school climate is an aspect of a school's culture the relationship between the two will be discussed next.

SCHOOL CLIMATE AS AN ASPECT OF SCHOOL CULTURE Probably the most commonly identified school-level factor that is thought to influence effectiveness is the school's culture. Rutter et al. (1979) used the words "school ethos" to describe a similar attribute. Mackenzie (1983, p.10), after reviewing the effectiveness literature, claimed that "the overall climate and atmosphere of the school can be seen as a crucible for the personal efficacy of those who work there". Similarly Purkey and Smith (1983) in their review of the effectiveness literature indicate that a student's chances for success in learning cognitive skills is heavily influenced by the climate of the school. In fact, they propose a theory of school effectiveness based on changing the culture of the school.

Although culture is not a new concept, it shifted to center stage in the 1980's due to a number of publications. The first of these -- William Ouchi's Theory Z was published in 1981 and espoused the commitment of Japanese workers to a Z culture. Theory Z argues that a worker's life is a whole, "not a Jekyll/Hyde personality, half machine from nine to five and half human in the hours preceding and following" (p.165). Theory Z seeks attention for worker participation in the decisions of the work place.

In 1982 a book by Peters and Waterman entitled In Search of Excellence, described eight characteristics of successful companies. A consistent theme cutting across the eight characteristics was the power of values and culture in these companies. The culture was reinforced through the stories, myths, legends and metaphors that diffused throughout the organization.

Another book that appeared on the bestsellers list in 1982 was Terrence Deal's and Allan Kennedy's Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life. This book helped to clarify what culture meant, namely, a system of shared values and beliefs that interact with an organization's people, structures and control systems to produce certain behavioral norms.

Owens (1987) argues that the lessons from business were not lost on educational administrators.

Confronted by shrinking finances, faltering public support, divided constituencies and conflicting interests, and rampant charges of organizational ineffectiveness, they became riveted by the implications of organizational culture for educational organizations (p.166).


Differences and Similarities Between Culture and Climate

Robert Owen's (1987) contends that in education the term has enjoyed wide usage in the past, "but" the more inclusive term organizational culture is rapidly coming into use in the literature" (p.166). One therefore needs to ask whether these terms are similar or whether they mean different things.

Culture,. The literature is replete with definitions of culture, however, there is a high degree of agreement among writers and how it relates to and differs from climate. Schein (1985) defines culture as "... the solution to external and internal problems that has worked consistently for a group and that is therefore taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think about, and feel in relation to these problems" (pp. 19-20). Deal and Kennedy (1962) define culture as: "consist[ing] of patterns of thought, behavior, and artifacts that symbolize and give meaning to the workplace" (p.15). Similarly, Kilmann et al. (1985) define culture as "the shared philosophies, ideologies, values, assumptions, beliefs, expectations, attitudes and norms that knit a community together "(p.5). All, however, agree that these "interrelated psychological qualities" indicate the groups agree, implicitly on explicitly, on how problems are solved and decisions made. In everyday usage it is typically described as "the way things are done around here" or "what people believe does or does not work in their workplace".

Schein contends that these "solutions eventually come to be assumptions about the nature of reality, time, truth, space, human nature, human activity, and human relationships..." (p.19). They eventually become taken for granted and drop out of awareness. Because of the human need for consistency and order, the assumptions tend to form a pattern that is implicit, taken for granted, and unconscious. It is only through a process of inquiry that they are brought to the surface.

Kilmann et al. (1985) and Schein (1985) contend that culture not only manifests itself in behavioral norms, hidden assumptions and human nature, but that these occur at different levels of depth. Norms are just below the surface of experience; they have an "ought to" quality to them. As a rule they are transmitted from one person to another by stories, rites, rituals, and, particularly, sanctions that are applied when a norm is violated. Examples of norms are: don't disagree with the principal, do the minimum to get by, don't socialize with students, leave the school as soon as the last bell goes, go out of your way to help others, and work hard.

Norms may be negative or positive. In our attempts to improve schools, we often ask staff to assess and analyze their culture. In particular we focus on the norms that operate within the schools. We have found this to be an extremely useful activity to help the school staff understand its basis of operation. In many cases the staff are quick to suggest mechanisms for achieving higher performance and improved morale.

At somewhat deeper levels lie the hidden assumptions, according to Schein (1985). These are the fundamental beliefs behind all decisions and actions. Examples of assumptions might be that all kids are lazy and evil, what worked in the schools in the past is good enough for today, personal gain is more important than student gain and I am here basically to teach.

At the deepest level of culture, according to Schein (1985), is "the collective manifestation of human nature --- the collection of human dynamics, wants, motives and desires that make a group of people unique" (p.7). Because most organizations are a collectivity of individuals with unique wants and desires, understanding and changing culture can be difficult.

Deal (1985) contends that in order to understand the culture needs in a school one has to understand the symbolism that exists. These include the rituals, myths, traditions, rites, and informal network of players and language. It is through these mechanisms that human meanings and values are transmitted. Owen's (1987), for example, contends that the bell schedule is one of the many powerful cultural symbols that help to create climate in our schools.

Climate. In that climate has been previously defined, only a brief summary is necessary. Essentially climate is the perception that individuals have of various aspects of the internal environment of the school and that influences their behavior.

Climate is also closely associated with the notion of satisfaction (Owens, 1987). The determination of climate characteristics is usually elicited through the perceptions of respondents to a questionnaire.

Relationship of climate to culture. Owens (1987) states that "organizational climate is related to, and subsumed under, organizational culture inasmuch as the perceptions of individuals in the organization reflect the values and belief systems in the environment of the organization" (p. 169). He argues that one should not confuse climate with culture because the perceptions of participants reflects the culture of an organization in part, and thus may lead to wrongful conclusions.

Furthermore, Owens (1987) argues that "the culture of an organization exerts powerful influence on the development of climate. Kanter (1983, p. 149), for example, in her book The Change Masters, claims that high performing organizations have a culture of pride and a climate of success. She believes that the culture of pride is found in organizations that are integrative-those that emphasize wholeness. In contrast, less successful organizations were described as being segmented -- those emphasizing narrowness. Such organizations were characterized by a lack of pride and a climate lacking success.

If one were to summarize the difference between climate and culture, one would say that culture deals with "how the work of the schools get done?" whereas climate deals with the "feeling tone" of the internal environment of the school. Climate is the narrower concept based on peoples' beliefs and perceptions of the situation in which they find themselves.

Culture and Organization Development. The literature is replete with how culture is formed, and how it relates to organizational effectiveness. It is beyond the scope of this monograph to deal with such issues, suffice to it say that as organizations are born, grow, mature, and in some cases die, different organizational cultures manifest themselves. Moreover, depending on the size of the organization and the degree of departmentalization, multiple cultures may exist. (See for example Kilmann et al., 1985; Schein, 1985). Large secondary schools may, for example be characterized by multiple cultures whereas a small elementary school may have a single culture.

Any organization if it is to survive and grow in its external environment must have: (1) a sense of its own mission, a reason for its existence; (2) some concrete goals derived from the primary mission; (3) a mechanism for accomplishing these goals; (4) a mechanism for monitoring its progress; and (5) a means of correcting its problems if the goals are not being attained (Schein, 1985, P. 20).

Schein (1985, p. 20) goes on to argue that in order to function the work group must have: (1) a common language and shared meanings; (2) some way of defining its boundaries and selecting appropriate members; (3) some means of handling interpersonal relationships, creating the climate of the organization; (4) some way of allocating authority, power, status and resources; (5) some criteria for dispensing rewards and punishment; and (6) some way of coping with unmanageable, unpredictable and stressful events. In summary, "the culture of the organization is the embodiment of solutions to a wide range of problems". (Schein, p. 20). It is through the culture that the work of the school either does or does not get done. And it is in this sense that culture becomes a useful tool for a school to consider as the basis of its operation.


This conceptualization of school climate, supported by recent research on school and teacher effects, departs substantially from earlier efforts that explained differences among schools in terms of socioeconomic status and home background variables. The convergence of interest in school climate by the quality of life and school and teacher effectiveness investigators has given strong impetus to the current thrust of climate research.

Research seems to agree that: (1) school climate attributes have an influence on psychological processes and achievement (Moos, 1976; Fraser, 1981);

(2) the climate attributes are alterable (Moos, 1979; Brookover et al., 1978; Wynne, 1980);

(3)the perceptions of the participants in the school setting is the basis for change of the climate (Trickett, 1978; Fraser, 1981).

A further conclusion of this monograph is that the climate of a school is established by the principal and school staff and is, therefore, capable of change. If the staff can establish and change the climate in the school, then the level of achievement can also be changed.

Furthermore, the research has shown that climate can impact on student achievement. Positive learning environments and positive learning outcomes appear to go together (Haertel et al., 1981). In that regard a model of school climate improvement attributes was outlined. As such, the attributes can be used as the basis for climate improvement activities.

Finally, since climate deals more with the affective domain, it was argued that a shift should occur to the concept school culture. Climate is a subset of school culture. As such, culture would be a more useful construct for schools to assess. Various models of school effectiveness are based on the construct culture (e.g., Purkey & Smith, 1983).

However, that is not to say that climate diagnosing, monitoring, and improvement is not worthwhile. We know from research that climate is a determinant of student achievement and morale. Good climates equate with good schools. Therefore climate improvement is to be fostered and encouraged.

The next chapters attempt to provide mechanisms for assessing and improving climate. The final chapter presents current climate practices being pursued in Canadian schools.

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Chapter 2

In Chapter 1 of the monograph it was indicated that school climate is the direct result of the norms, values and beliefs of the participants in the school environment as they interact with one another. It was also stated that openness, trust, respect, high morale, caring, warmth and cohesiveness characterize a positive climate. Furthermore, a positive climate contributes to satisfaction and increased achievement or productivity. Schools characterized by poor climate, on the other hand, were perceived as lacking openness, trust, warmth, respect and cohesiveness. Typically individuals working in a poor climate tend to be negative and dissatisfied with their work. Students generally do not achieve as well in schools with poor climate.

This section of the monograph provides, for those interested in climate improvement, some models and approaches that can be used. Some of the strategies are designed to assess the overall climate of the school, while others tend to deal with specific attributes that contribute to the overall climate. The kinds of activities suggested here are not meant to be exhaustive, but merely indicative of the kinds of efforts needed to improve the school's climate. Consequently, this section also includes sample instruments and processes. And finally, other available resource materials are indicated.

A five stage approach to climate improvement is suggested in the next section.

Figure 2 outlines a five-stage approach to climate improvement:

(1) sensing/initiating the program,

(2) diagnosing/assessing the problem,

(3) developing strategies to overcome the difficulty,

(4) implementing the solutions, and

(5) monitoring and evaluating the outcomes.

Stage 1 - Sensing and Initiating the Program

The first stage, sensing and initiating the program, begins when the principal or staff members realize that the climate in the school can be improved. The sensing may be based on hunches, intuition or indicators that the climate of the school is not as good as it should be. In other words, there is a gap between what is and what should be. Climate improvement can also arise because the participants genuinely feel that their school can be a better place within which to study and work.

A good starting point is the mission of the school. The mission statement provides an indication of the school's priorities and objectives. It is the glue that binds the group together and directs the "herd to move in a westerly direction". If a mission statement and workable objectives are not existent, then that should be the starting point.

During the initiating stage the participants need to ask questions such as:

What is happening in our school and why?

What do we want to happen?

What do we need to do to bring about the desired change?

Awareness can come through discussion at staff meetings, reading of the literature, and through in-service activities.

During Stage I we plan for action, not reaction. Visible support from the principal is a necessary element. The planting of seeds is crucial. This is the stage for building commitment.

If the staff is large, a Planning Committee may be required to direct the improvement effort. With small staffs, fewer than fifteen teachers, the total staff can act as the Planning Team.

Stage 2 - Diagnosing/Assessing the Problems

All schools need a common basis for assessing the effectiveness of its operation. Generally this stage is referred to as the "Needs Assessment" phase.

Needs can relate to: skills




There are many different techniques suitable for helping the stakeholders identify their needs, some of which are brainstorming, nominal group techniques, survey of opinions, and interviews. One can use both quantitative (e.g., climate questionnaires) and quantitative (e.g., interview) approaches. Examples of needs assessment are discussed in a later section of this chapter.



Figure 2. The Planned Stages of Climate Improvement


Stage 3 - Developing Strategies to Overcome the Gaps

In this stage of the process, the stakeholders need to:

Develop solutions to problems.

Prioritize the solutions.

Decide on strategies.

Similar methods to those used in the needs assessment can be used to derive solutions (e.g., brainstorming, NGT, quality circles, etc.). It should be noted that our experiences in working with school improvement lead us to conclude that any school should select a manageable number of activities that it would deal with at any time. Too many activities could result in loss of effort and eventually dropping of the project.

Stage 4 - Implementing the Solutions

It is one thing to plan and schedule the activities for climate improvement, but it is quite another to adjust and modify the program as it is implemented. Needless to say, the plan never evolves exactly as intended. Human nature and human beings, being what they are, never act quite as expected. The key concept during implementation is flexibility. Adjustments may need to be made. Time lines may need to be readjusted.

The enjoyable part of this stage is seeing changes and improvements take hold. As early successes are won, confidence builds, and greater effort can be expected. Reinforcement of a job well done, is vital during the initial stages.

Our experience is that some schools are quick off the mark, while others are not. In some case what takes one school a few months to achieve, takes another a year to reach the same mark.

Patience, support, cajoling and feedback are important in this phase. Follow-up on the progress at regular schedules also ensures that something will be done.

Finally, depending on the complexity of the issues being faced, a long-time perspective is better than a short-time perspective. Climate improvement should not be viewed as a quick-fix approach.

Stage 5 - Monitoring/Evaluating the Outcomes

Usually this stage receives the least attention. The implementation has taken place, but no one checks to see if the solutions have made a difference.

It is suggested that during the implementation phase informal assessment should be the norm. Informal monitoring is useful for fine-tuning, sensing and preventing of major problems from occurring. At the same time, it alleviates the feeling that formal evaluation usually creates.

After a period of time, usually towards the end of the second or third year of implementation, a formal assessment should be conducted. Formal evaluation can be conducted by an internal or by an external team. In some instances a team consisting of insiders and outsiders, is preferred. At any rate, a formal assessment is required in order to determine whether the activity should be continued, discontinued, modified or new targets set.




As has been previously suggested, there are many vehicles by which a needs assessment can be conducted. In this section, the emphasis will be on group, consultative and collaborative processes. The group could simply consist of the principal and staff, or it could include student and parent representatives, custodians, secretaries, and bus drivers. Our approach is to involve as many stakeholders as possible. However, if the staff feels more comfortable in initiating the process on its own, then that is acceptable. However, as change awareness increases, involvement of other stakeholders should be seriously considered. The school effectiveness research (e.g., Rutter et al., 1979; Murphy et al., 1985), in particular, emphasizes the benefits of involving parents and students in school improvement efforts-in that it leads to improved school climate and increased student achievement.

The needs assessment can be conducted in a retreat (typically used in Australia) situation or at the school. Whatever the place, the facility should have a large, comfortable meeting room with smaller back-up rooms. There should be plenty of work activity materials such as butcher's paper, markers, masking tape, writing paper, pens, and naturally coffee, juice and cookies.

Organizers should ensure that there is ample time to address the topic "climate improvement". At least one day is required for conducting the assessment and another day for initial planning of solutions to problems.

The setting for the meeting should be a relaxed and comfortable place. There should be no disruptions to the group process (e.g., telephone calls, etc.).

What follows are some suggested group approaches to conducting a needs assessment. There are numerous techniques available, too numerous to outlines. Interested readers are asked to consult appropriate references for further information.


(1) Verbally proposed ideas - Ask the total group to list all the things they can think of in terms of school climate needs. The rules for brainstorming are: - Only one person talks at a time.

- There is no evaluation or debate or ideas until all ideas have been listed.

- It is permissible to "hitch-hike", combine or elaborate on others' ideas.

The ideas should be listed on large "butcher paper" sheets as they are verbalized, so that everyone can see them. This allows individuals to "hitch-hike" to other ideas.

Although not really part of the rules of brainstorming, I like to "go around the table" as I jot down the ideas. The idea being to involve as many people as possible, and not have the process dominated by one or two individuals.

(2) Written ideas - Another way of getting people's ideas out in the open is to use a modified nominal group technique (NGT) approach. In this approach individuals jot down their ideas on small pieces of paper or file cards. The idea is to have all persons exhaust their ideas, a process that takes 7 - 10 minutes.

The recorder then goes around the table recording all ideas. Only one idea per person is asked for. The process is repeated until all ideas are exhausted.

(3) Modified Recording - A modified approach for obtaining all ideas is suggested by Marelle Harisun (1986, pp. 6-7). The ideas are generated similar to (#2) above, but the recording of ideas differs. Once the individual recording has been completed, groups of 4 - 6 people are formed. Groups display their cards and group them into piles in suitable categories. Each group then lists its ideas on a large piece of paper and displays the phrases or sentences to other group members. The group then discusses the common needs that appear to emerge from these lists.

Once the ideas have been generated, the group is ready to discuss the meaning and merits of the ideas. The exercise is concluded when the ideas have been prioritized.

Survey of Opinion

Harisun (1986, pp. 7-8) suggests that a survey of opinions can be conducted without the use of questionnaires. These include:

(1) Casual conversations to provide ideas on what people feel are their needs for improvement. Someone could listen to people in the staffroom and elsewhere around the school, and later jot down the ideas in a notebook, "for checking out with the whole staff, or to feed into any other process for listing needs" (p.7).

(2) Interviews can be conducted with a small number of staff, students and/or parents. The comments of the individual should be recorded as close to his/her words as possible. In some cases it might be advisable to tape-record the interview. After the tapes have been transcribed, it is advisable to check the accuracy of the transcribing with the interviewee.

Additionally, semi-structured and structured interviews may be used. In the semi-structured situation interviews may be conducted with individuals and/or small groups, using a small number of questions. The structured interview may utilize a checklist in some instances.

M. Harisun (1986) suggests when the interviews and records of them are completed, it is advisable to type the ideas in a checklist form. This checklist can then be given to all individuals involved in the climate improvement program for their adjudication. The results can then be collated and distributed to everyone.

Nominal Group Technique (NGT)

A process of identifying needs that I have found to be highly useful is the nominal group technique. The technique, first described by Delbecq and Van de Ven (1971), is a highly structured group process. (A complete description of the process is found in A. Delbecq and A. Van de Ven, "A Group Process Model for Problem Identification and Program Planning" Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 7(4) 1970. The process described herein is abbreviated and slightly modified.) The structured process consists of the following small group activities: (1) silent generation of ideas in writing, (2) round-robin listing of ideas on a flip chart, (3) serial discussion of ideas, (4) silent listing and ranking of priorities, (5) discussion of voting, and (6) re-ranking of priorities. After the group has assembled (we find groups of 712 people to be workable. Once the group gets beyond 15 people, the process becomes more difficult), the leader must establish rapport with the group. The leader is also charged with the responsibility of defining the task that all participants are asked to respond to in the meeting. Our experience suggests that the appropriate wording of the task statement is crucial in order to obtain the desired outcome. Prior to the meeting serious thought should be given to the question, "what information do I really want from the participants?" A lot of time, energy, and embarrassment can be saved with a little pre-planning.

The following steps comprise the NGT:

STEP 1 - Silent Generation of Ideas in Writing (7-12 minutes)

A. Procedures: The first step in an NGT meeting is to have the group members write ideas silently and independently.

B. Leader Caveats:

1. Present the question to the group in written form.

2. Direct the group to write ideas in brief phrases or statements.3. Ask the group to be silent and work independently.4. Model good group behavior.

STEP 2 - Round Robin Recording of Ideas

The second step of the NGT is to record the ideas of group members on a flip chart visible to the entire group. Round-robin recording means going around the room and asking for one idea from one member at a time.

A. Procedure: The leader writes the idea of a group member on the flip chart and proceeds to the next group member in turn. Ideas are listed until every member "passes". A member may pass on a particular turn, but can hitch-hike on other people's ideas.

B. Leader Caveats:

1. Group recorders should avoid categorization and redefinition of items.

2. Avoid discussion of items, simply list the items on a flip-chart as rapidly as possible.

3. Make sure participants do not talk out of turn.

STEP 3 - Serial Discussion for Clarification

The third step of NGT is to discuss each idea in turn. The objective of the discussion is to clarify, not to win arguments.

1. Read each item and ask if each member of the group understands the statement or phrase.

2. Eliminate duplicates.

3. Do not collapse or condense categories.

4. When eliminating duplicates, if any member wishes to test the idea on its own, leave the item on the list.

STEP 4 - Silent Ranking of Priorities

The fourth step of the NGT is to prioritize the items on the list. Various approaches are available, however, we have found the one described below to be highly effective.

1. Hand out seven 3 x 5 file cards to each participant.

2. Each member is then asked to select seven ideas from those listed on the flip-chart as the most important climate needs and record one on each card. Each item should be numbered as on the list.

3. Request the participants to take the seven cards and rate them in order of importance. The card that contains the most important need will be indicated by placing a circled 7 on that card. The second most important need will be indicated by placing a circled 6 on it and so on down to placing a circled 1 on the least important need.

4. The leader then tabulates the value for each need on the flip-chart.

5. Rank-order the priorities. The highest total score will be ranked as 1. The next highest score will be ranked number 2 and so on.

6. The leader then tabulates the circled values for each idea on the flip-chart.

7. Rank order the totaled values.

STEP 5 - Discussion of the Ranked Priorities

The purpose of the discussion is to examine inconsistent voting patterns, and to provide the opportunity to discuss items which are perceived as receiving to few or too many votes.

                    1. Ask the group to discuss the rankings.
  2. Ensure that the discussion is brief.

3. Check to see if any other items should be included.

STEP 6 - Re-Ranking of Priorities (Final Vote)

This vote combines individual judgements into a group decision.

1. The selection can be from any items on the list not just the priority items from the first vote. In other words, Step 6 is a repeat of Step 4.

2. Collect and tabulate the results.

At this stage the group may wish to discuss any changes in ratings. In some cases the values may have increased or decreased.

The final stage determines the outcome of the meeting. It documents the group's judgement and brings closure to the proceedings. Where more than one group is used, the small groups should be brought back into one large group and the results shared. Each group leader should report on the results of his or her group.

Discuss the next steps in the process. This process (MGT) assumes that follow-up action will take place, especially on high priority items.

Delphi Technique

The Delphi Technique is a method for obtaining consensus without the participants ever getting together in a group situation. The advantages of this approach is that it allows for the whole staff to participate without being influenced by each other and without having to find a suitable time when all participants can meet.

The following steps have been modified from that outlined by Harisun (1986):

1. Outline the concern to be addressed and place the questionnaire in each staff members mailbox.

2. Upon receipt of the responses, collate the ideas, type the list, with boxes or spaces for participants to indicate an order of priority.

3. Distribute the list, and ask individuals to vote for their top a or la choices in order of priority.

4. Collate the results, reducing the list to those items receiving the top number of votes.

5. Make a new list and ask the participants to vote again for their top ;I or 5. choices.

6. Collate the results, and distribute the results or display them in the staff room.

Phield Technique

Kilmann (1984) and Harisun (1986) suggest a modified Delphi as an additional needs assessment technique. The main difference is that this approach calls for a face to face meeting and the joining of groups in an attempt to develop consensus.

Essentially the steps are as follows: 1. State the issue to be addressed.

2. Individually participants write down their own needs list.

3. Working in groups of three, the participants share their list, and come to an agreement on a joint list.

4. Two groups of threes come together to share their list and again reach consensus on a joint list.

5. Repeat the cycle until all the groups come together.

6. The final list is recorded and displayed.

7. Follow-up on the issues raised must occur.

Troika Method (U. of S.)

This technique is one that I owe credit to my graduate students in school improvement. I have used it to assess the state of a school's climate as well as to identify future areas of attention.

The steps are as follows:

1. Each participant is given three different colored cards.

          2. On the first colored card, the participant writes down three to five climate activities that have been successful  or "have worked" the past year.

          3. On the second card, each participant writes down three to five climate activities that have not been successful or "have not worked" in the past year.

4. On the third card, each participant writes three to five climate activities that should be focussed on in the next year or two.

5. Working in groups of three, members compare cards and develop comprehensive lists in the three categories.

6. Two groups of threes come together to share their lists and again develop joint lists ("worked", "didn't work", "need further attention").

            7. Repeat the cycle until all the groups come together.

            8. The final lists are recorded and displayed.

9. Focussing on the "needs attention" list, participants are asked to prioritize the top 5 or 10 items.

10. The priority list is reviewed and members are asked to choose the top 3 or 5 concerns requiring attention.

11. The final priority list is discussed and recorded.

The cycle then turns to the development of action plans. A similar process may be used to develop the plans. We have found it useful to use Action Teams (groups of 3 - 5 individuals) to elaborate the action plans. The developed plans are then brought forward for staff approval prior to any implementation taking place.

In all instances, the model as outlined at the beginning of this chapter has been useful in improving the climate of schools. The importance of developing action plans and following through with implementation, once the assessment has been completed, is extremely important.

INSTRUMENTS TO ASSESS SCHOOL CLIMATE As Chapter 1 has indicated, there are a variety of instruments developed to assess the climate of the school. These instruments have attempted to "objectify" or "quantify" peoples' perceptions of the climate.

School climate instruments have focussed on the perceptions of various stakeholders. Some, for example, focus on the teacher-principal relationships, others focus on teacher-student relationships, and still others deal with the perceptions of various stakeholders such as students, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, parents and community members.

In assessing the school climate, you need to consider a number of issues:

1. What information do you want to collect? You need to consider whether you want global climate indicators or aspects of climate such as student self-concept or student attitude towards school and homework.

2. How will you collect the data? You need to consider whether you will use an instrument, interview individuals, or collect data on existing artifacts. If you decide to use an instrument, review a number of instruments, and modify existing ones if necessary. You do not need to develop your own instrument, there are many around.

3. Who will you collect your data from? In other words, who are the stakeholders that you are interested in?

4. When will you collect your data? Should the data be collected at the beginning of the year, half-way through, or at the end of the school year?
Once the decision has been made to collect the data with the use of an instrument or instruments, the respondents need to be informed. It is important to follow-through and share the results with the stakeholders.

I have a bias in the use of instruments. My feeling is that the school should conduct a climate mini-audit at least once every two years. In this regard the Edmonton Public Schools Attitude Survey is an extremely useful approach. It is reproduced with permission in this chapter.

Audits are useful in providing the school with feedback from the stakeholders. This information can then be used to develop school climate improvement plans.

In the following sections, a variety of instruments are provided. Some of these are self-assessment instruments. These can be used by a school staff to examine personal beliefs in regards to school norms. These can also be used to compare the group as a whole. Thus many of these instruments can be utilized in a variety of ways.


It is urged that the school develop a school profile. The profile would consist of information such as:

1. Student attendance
2. Test results
3. Vandalism costs
4. Teacher absences
5. Standardized test results
6. Reports on discipline cases.
7. The number and type of discipline cases.
8. Awards and recognition of staff and students.
9. Participation of students in school activities.
10. Copies of newsletters.
11. Survey results.
12. School yearly priorities.
13. List of school activities.
14. Action Plans.

A school profile allows the school to assess its progress over a period of time. It also provides the staff with the opportunity to see if its interventions have improved the school climate and student achievement.

Additionally, schools may wish to utilize a quasi-experimental research design. That is, schools would obtain baseline data utilizing quantitative and qualitative approaches prior to the commencement of any action plans or intervention strategies. Once the plan has been in operation for a period of time (e.g., one year) the same measures would be readministered. The schools could then assess to see if the interventions have made any difference. Such an approach ensures that more accurate information is available from which future decisions can be made. However, this approach ensures that reflective action will occur.

How Positive is Your School's Climate?

This brief checklist* will give you a quick snapshot of your school's climate. Rate each of the following items in accordance with the following code:

1 = strongly disagree

2 = disagree

3 = agree

4 = strongly agree

As compared with other schools which serve pupils similar to our own: 1. Our school has comparatively few discipline problems.

2. Vandalism is not a problem in our school.

3. Attendance is good in this school.

4. Student and staff morale is high.

5. Pupil achievement is high.

6. Pupils feel a sense of ownership and pride in this school.

7. People (staff and students) in our school trust one another, care about one another and respect one another a great deal.

8. Our school's various social groups respect one another and work together well for the benefit of the school.

9. Our students and staff frequently participate in problem-solving and school improvement activities.

10. Students and staff willingly participate in extra-curricular activities.

11. The threat level in our school is low (i.e. people are not afraid of being treated disrespectfully, becoming failures, or being physically harmed).

12. Staff members utilize a variety of instructional techniques so that students with varying learning styles (e.g., active, creative, visual) can benefit.

13. The staff is friendly and care about their students as individuals.

14. The school has a clearly stated mission that is known by all participants.

15. The parents are supportive of what the school is doing and willingly provide assistance when requested.

If your score is 45 or more, you perceive your school has a positive climate.

*Adapted from CFK Ltd.


Are You a Good Climate Leader?*

If you are a classroom teacher, this checklist was developed especially for you. Rate yourself on each of these items, using the following code:

1 = almost never

2 = occasionally

3 = frequently

4 = almost always


Relationships with Students 1. I treat student fairly. For example, I don't play favorites or punish the entire class for the actions of a few.

2. I operate on the assumption that the student wants to do the right thing.

3. I use positive reinforcement instead of punishment.

4. I have a friendly relationship with my students.

5. I know my students and their parents as individuals.


Structuring and Managing the Classroom 1. Students are aware of my classroom work and behavior expectations.

2. My established routines for such activities as collecting materials and papers function smoothly.

3. I use preventive discipline - that is, I attempt to recognize and identify problems before they develop.

4. I regularly monitor my students' performance.

5. My classroom is friendly, but business-like (at least 70% is devoted to task-orientation).


Instruction Techniques

1. I insist on all students maintaining high standards in their work and their behavior, but my standards are realistic for the age group.

2. I vary my instructional techniques so that students with varying learning styles (e.g., active, creative, visual) can benefit.

3. I individualize assignments (e.g., all students are not assigned the same tasks).

4. The work that I assign is perceived as useful and meaningful by my pupils.

5. I am well-prepared to teach my students.






If your score is 45 or above you are probably a very positive climate leader. If you score is below 35, you may wish to further analyze how what you do affects the attitudes of your students.

*Adapted from Eugene Howard, Classroom Control Index, School Discipline Desk Book, 1978.


We would like to know how you feel about your school. After each question are some faces. Place a big X on the happy face If your answer Is YES. Place a big X on the sad face if your answer Is NO. Place a big X on the puzzled face if you're not sure.

                                                                                                                    YES         NO             I'M NOT SURE

1. Do you like your schoolwork?                                       J             L                K

2. Are you learning a lot?                                                J             L                K

3. Do you like your teacher?                                              J             L                K

4. Are the people in the office nice?

5. Do you like your principal?

6. Do you feel the school rules are fair?

7. Are the children made to follow the rules?

8. Are the other children at school nice?

9. Do you have fun at recess?

10. Do you like your school building?

11. Do you like your school playground?

12. Does homework help you learn more?

13. Does your teacher give you help when you need it?

14. Do you like to use the library or learning resources centre in your school?

15. Is your school kept clean?

16. Do you like going to school?

Is there anything else you'd like us to indicate to the Board or Administration? PLEASE USE THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS QUESTIONNAIRE FOR YOUR COMMENTS

* Reproduced with permission.




We would like to know how you feel about your school. If your answer to a question on this sheet is YES, make an X in the square under the word YES. Make an X under the word NO if your answer is NO. If you are not sure, make an X in the square under I'M NOT SURE.

                                                                                                            YES         NO         I'M NOT SURE

1. Do you like your schoolwork?

2. Do you feel good about how much you are learning?

3. Do you like your teacher(s)?

4. Are the people in the office friendly and helpful?

5. Do you like the principal?

6. Do you feel the school rules are fair?

7. Are the children made to follow the rules?

8. Are the other children at school nice?

9. Do you have fun at recess?

10. Do you like your school building?

11. Do you like your school playground?

12. Does homework help you learn more?

13. Does your teacher(s) give you help when you need it?

14. Do you like using the library or learning resources centre in your school?

15. Is your school kept clean?

16. De you like going to school?

17. Are you satisfied with the number of children in your class(es)?

18. Do you find your school work interesting?

19. Do you feel your teacher(s) cares about you?

20. Do you feel that children who misbehave are dealt with properly?

21. Do you feel the marks you got are fair?

  22. Do you receive information in the school about what you are expected to learn and how you are expected to behave?  
Is there anything else you would like us to communicate to the Board or to the Administration? PLEASE USE THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS QUESTIONNAIRE FOR YOUR



GRADES 7 - 9


We would like to know how you feel about school. Please check the box which best describes your feelings about the following:

                                                                                I'm Satisfied         I'm Dissatisfied         I'm Not Sure

1.The number of option courses open to you
2.The usefulness of your courses
3.The emphasis on basic skills (such as reading, writing, math)
4.Your homework assignments
5.How much you are learning
6.How your marks in the courses are determined
7.What the school tells your parents about how you are doind in school
8.Your principal
9.Your assistant principal (answer only if there is one)
10.The office staff
11.Your teachers
12.Your counselor
13.High school and career planning assistance
14.The say that you have in school decisions that affect you
15.The way student discipline is handled
16.The behaviour of other students in class
17.The behaviour of other students out of class
18.School rules and regulations
19.The way other students treat you
20.How attendance problems are handled
21.The opportunity to get into the classes that you would like
22.Lunch arrangements
23.The extracurricular program (sports, school plays, concerts, clubs, etc.)
24.The Students' Union or Council
25.The school buildings, grounds and equipment
26.The way you get to and from school
27.The interest that your teachers have in you
28.The amount of opportunity for experiencing success in your program
29.The number of pupils in your classes
30.The length of your class periods
31.The services of the school library or learning resources centre
32.The cleanliness of your school
33.Your school in general
34.The amount of information that you receive in the school about what you are expected to learn and how you are expected to behave
35.The amount of challenge provided for you by your school programs or courses

Is there anything else you would like us to communicate to the Board or Administration? PLEASE USE THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS QUESTIONNAIRE FOR YOUR COMMENTS



This instrument can be used with staff, students and parents.Please respond using the following rating scale:

1 = almost never 2 = occasionally 3 = frequently 4 = almost always Circle the most appropriate response.

.1. Students are enthusiastic about learning                                         1 2 3 4

in this school.

2. This school has good attendance, students only                               1 2 3 4

stay away for good reasons.

3. Teachers treat students fairly.                                                         1 2 3 4

4. Parents are considered to be important                                           1 2 3 4

contributors by this school.

5. I like this school.                                                                             1 2 3 4

6. I feel that my ideas are listened to in                                                 1 2 3 4

this school.

7. The principal cares about students.                                                     1 2 3 4

8. The school emphasizes the basic skills.                                                 1 2 3 4

9. Teachers pay attention to students of all                                                 1 2 3 4

ability levels.

10. Teachers use a wide range of teaching                                                 1 2 3 4

materials and media.

11. Teachers use a variety of teaching styles.                                             1 2 3 4

12. Students willingly participate in                                                             1 2 3 4

extra-curricular activities.

13. The school's program encourages students                                             1 2 3 4

to develop self-discipline and initiative.

14. Student discipline is handled well in this                                                 1 2 3 4


15. Teachers are willing to provide help for                                                 1 2 3 4

those students that need it.

 16. School rules are few and simple, and                                                     1 2 3 4

violators are treated fairly and consistently.

17. Students know the criteria used to evaluate                                             1 2 3 4

their progress.

18. Problems in this school are recognized and                                             1 2 3 4

worked upon openly, they are not allowed to


19. This school has high expectations for student                                             1 2 3 4


20. This school is clean and well decorated.                                                     1 2 3 4


Profiles can be prepared on the total scores and by items. Low item scores may require attention to the school's climate condition.

Adapted from James Slezak. Odyssey to Excellence. pp. 141-143.







We would like to know how you feel about your school. After each statement are some faces. Place a big X on the happy face if your answer is yes. Place a big X on the sad face if your answer is no. Place a big X on the puzzled face if you are not sure.

                                                                                                                     YES             NO        I'M NOT SURE

1. My teacher enjoys teaching                                                         J             L             K

2. My teacher keeps me interested in my school work

3. My teacher is friendly

4. My teacher cares about my feelings

5. My teacher lets me know when if I am behaving right or wrong

6. My teacher helps me with my work when I need it

7. My class wishes they could have this teacher next year

8. I like my teacher

9. I enjoy school

10. This school is a good place to make friends...

                     11. I enjoy my schoolwork 12. I am learning a lot at school

13. I like my principal

14. The school rules are fair

15. The children are made to follow the rules

16. The other children at school are nice

17. I have fun at recess

18. I like our school building

19. I like our school playground

20. I like to use the library or learning resources centre in our school

21. My school is kept clean

22. My school is nicely decorated

23. The people in the office are nice

24. Homework helps me to learn more

25. My parents are interested in how I do at school

26. I like to do well in school

27. The teacher expects our work to be neat

28. My teacher knows what to do and how we are going to do it

29. I work or pay attention during a whole lesson

30. I like myself



*These instruments have been adapted from various sources such as QSL, learning environments and so on. They have been used to conduct mini-audits of schools. Interested readers can obtain the student, teacher and parent questionnaires from the author or the Saskatchewan Educational Leadership Unit.



Grades 7-12

We would like to know how you feel about your school and schooling. Please complete the questionnaire by checking the appropriate box in Parts A and B. in Part C you are asked to complete the statements to the questions posed.

PART A                                                                                                                         Yes         No     I'm Not Sure
1. I enjoy school

2. Students get along well in this school

3. My teachers take a personal interest in me

4. My teachers enjoy teaching

5. I like my teachers

6. My teachers keep me interested in my school work

7. My teachers are available outside of class time to give extra help

8. My teachers know the subject matter

9. My teachers are enthusiastic about teaching

10. My teachers vary their approach in teaching the lessons

11. My teachers are in class on time

12. My teachers are prepared for class

13. My teachers return my assignments promptly

14. I find my classes interesting

15. Teachers expect my work to be done to the best of my abilities

16. I feel that the marks I get are fair

17. The school rules and regulations are fair

18. There is good school spirit

19. Students take care of school property

20. This school is a good place to make friends

21. I like to do well in school

22. My parents are interested in how I do at school

23. The people in the office are friendly and helpful

24. Students willingly participate in school activities

23. Discipline is handled in a firm and consistent manner

26. There is good teacher-student cooperation

27. I work or pay attention during a whole lesson.

Please indicate how satisfied you are with the following:

SATISFIED     DISSATISFIED     NOT SURE   28. The number of course options open to you

29. The emphasis an basic skills (such as reading, writing and math)

30. Your homework assignments

31. How much you are learning

32. What the school tells your parents about how you are doing at school

33. High school and career planning services

34. The say you have in school decisions that affect you

35. The way student discipline is handled

36. Your school principal

37. The opportunity to get into classes that you would like

38. How attendance problems are handled

39. The behavior of students in class

40. The behavior of students out of class

41. "he extracurricular program (sports, school plays, concerts, clubs, etc.)

42. Student Council

43. The school facility

44. The way you get to and from school

45. Your chances for succeeding in your classes

46. The length of your class periods

47. The services of the school library or learning resources center

48. The system of rewards available

49. Your school in general

50. Your satisfaction with your life

1. If your school had money for improving the building, purchasing equipment, or improving the school grounds, how would you recommend it be spent?




2. Are there a sufficient number of subjects from which to choose in your school?

a) YES b) NO

If you answered NO, list the subjects you would like to have made available.



3. What are your two favorite subjects?

Why are these subjects your favorite?

a. The teacher makes them interesting

b. The topics are interesting

c. They are easy

d. They are challenging

e. Other reason, please explain:

4. What are your two least favorite subjects?

Why are these subjects your least favorite?

a. The teacher does not make them interesting

b. The topics are boring

c. They are too easy

d. They are too hard

e. Other reason, please explain:


5. After leaving school what do you plan to do? a. Get a job right away

b. Attend a technical-vocational institute or past-secondary school to learn a skill or trade

c. Attend a university

d. Other, please specify:




6. What job would you like to have in the future?

7. Indicate the amount of homework you do each weekday:
    a. None    b. Less than one-half hour    c. Less than one hour    d. One to two hours    e. Two to three hours
    f. More than three hours.

8. Name the things you like best about your school.

  9. Name the things you like least about your school.


10. Name the things you would change in your school.


11. List the activities you participate in outside of the school.


12. List the activities you participate in inside of the school.

13. How much time (on the average) do you spend watching TV during weekdays?
_________ minutes.

14. Please list your hobbies:

15. Is there anything else you would like us to communicate to the Board or administration? Please make your comments on the space provided.





The Schools Problem Checklist is designed for the principal as a quick check on the existing school climate. If you check the first two columns with regularity, then you should study the problem in greater detail.

Extent of Problems Problems                                                                                                                 Great         Moderate         Little/None 1. Vandalism

2. Truancy

3. Student behavior

4. School spirit

5. Student dropout rate

6. Student absentee rate

7. Student attitude toward school

8. Student feelings about teachers

9. Student verbal/physical abuse

10. Student apathy toward school events

11. Students carrying weapons

12. Problems on playground/parking lot

13. Student harassment of local merchants

14. Student feelings that they are merely a number because of the size of the school

15. Crowded conditions

16. Weak student government

17. Incidences of suspensions

                    18. Incidences of expulsions
  19. Thefts of student property

20. Theft of teacher/staff property

21. Theft of school property

22. Teacher/staff apathy

23. Teacher/staff cliques

24. Teacher/staff absentee rate

25. Unavailability of supplies/equipment

26. School image in the community

27. Negative newspaper articles about school

28. Number and kind of complaints from school neighbors

29. Other

30. Other

*Adapted from Robert H. Fox et al., School Climate Improvement: A Challenge to the School Administrator. (Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa.). p. 3.










The Board of Education for the City of North York
Educational Research & Evaluation Services
April 1973
(Revised 1984)


Reproduced with permission, of North York Board of Education.



























Self-Concept materials can be obtained from:

North York Board of Education,

Educational Research and Evaluation Services

225-4661, Ext. 303,

5050 Yonge Street,

North York, Ontario



NAME:                                            SCHOOL:                                 TEACHER:

GRADE:                                             DATE:





(c) Board of Education for the City of North York

Department of Educational Research and Evaluation Services

                                                                                                                                                            TRUE/NOT TRUE

































This chapter has outlined a model for assessing and modifying the school climate. A variety of assessment techniques and instruments were provided. It should be noted that there are other approaches available and interested readers are asked to consult appropriate sources.

The intention was to outline those techniques and instruments that we have found to be helpful. Users are asked to modify and adapt the techniques and instruments as necessary.

What is important for the school staff, is that the mechanisms used be compatible and useful. Every school needs to assess its learning climate from time to time.

Back to Table of Contents

Chapter 3
Canadian Climate Improvement Projects

The following summaries are representative, but certainly not inclusive, of the many examples of district and school level climate improvement projects submitted by school jurisdictions from across Canada. Many districts and schools forwarded information concerning projects very similar to those described. Of the districts and schools cited, many were involved in a number of projects; however, in order to reduce repetition, not all of these are included. Clearly, exciting, innovative climate improvement projects are occurring in all parts of the country; readers are encouraged to investigate initiatives in their locale.



Division-Level School Climate Improvement Projects
Edmonton Catholic Schools
Administration Building
106 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K lC2



School Climate -Profile

Edmonton Catholic Schools have developed a set of questionnaires for use in determining perceptions of individual school climate from the perspectives of the school's teachers, administrators, support staff, review team personnel, students, and parents.


Edmonton Public SchoolsCentre for EducationOne KingswayEdmonton, AlbertaT5H 4G9

Edmonton Public Schools (EPS) has a variety of district initiatives designed to improve school climate.

Attitude Survey

EPS has developed a set of instruments for determining the perceptions of --he schools and the district of various stakeholders (students, teachers, principals, custodians and non-professional employees, parents, community at large). Sample questionnaires were included in Chapter 2. Data obtained (the surveys have been used for nine years), is shared with the schools and the community. A summary report is also published in the daily newspapers.

School Site Budgeting

School Site Budgeting is designed to decentralize decision making to the school level in order to better meet the needs of students. The budget process makes pro-vision for staff, student, and parent involvement.

Teacher Effectiveness

A teacher effectiveness program is now in its seventh year of operation. Fifteen full-time consultants work with principals and teachers in the improvement of instruction. The program utilizes a "coaching" model, and focuses on skills development.


Recognition of Achievement

The system recognizes the achievements of individuals at banquets and awards nights held on a yearly basis.

Staff Bulletin

The communications department publishes a number of newsletters, brochures, and pamphlets. The Staff Bulletin, published every two weeks, has received national recognition. The Bulletin contains stories and pictures from throughout the district, and informs staffs of board decisions and policies. The Bullet-in also contains a section entitled "Schools Do Make a Difference" which highlights examples of excellence from particular district schools.

Administrative Memo

The Administrative Memo, published weekly, informs principals of district policies and priorities.


EPS publishes a yearly calendar of district sponsored workshops. In addition, a monthly update is published to inform staffs of new initiatives.

School Effectiveness program

A school-based, school effectiveness program has been in operation since 1983.

District Focus

The district focus is on excellence; many messages and images are created to foster this theme. All administrators are encouraged to create an institutional image of excellence.

School District 36 (Surrey) 56th AvenueSurrey, B. C.V3W lR9
School Improvement- Facilitators' Training (SIFT)

The Surrey School District has developed and published a 108 page "Compilation Booklet" describing its program for training school improvement facilitators. Materials include the substance of workshops held in 1985 and 1986 for a total of 84 facilitators from school districts throughout B.C., plus ideas contributed by workshop participants. Topics covered include:

1. A Place Called School (APCS) a. school profile compilation

b. effectiveness compilation

c. identifying needs and creating the school development plan

d. creating high expectations

2. Positive Ethos Planning (PEP) a. the factor analysis process                 i. emphasis on learning     ii. use of rewards and praise

    iii. firm leadership and teacher involvement in decision-making

    iv. appearance and comfort of the school environment,

    v. student participation

b. ranking factors

c. developing direct action statements

3. Implementation Makes a Difference - keys to staff change a. positive climate

b. presentation

c. logistics

d. planning - preparation

e. process/participation

f. needs assessment

g. practice/follow-up

h. evaluation



North York Board of Education
Yonge St.
Willowdale, Ontario
M2N 5N8


System Initiatives

A Framework for Progress

This document serves as a framework for planning for the next five years. More than one thousand staff and community members were involved in the process. The framework considers the Key Assumptions and presents an evaluation of the beliefs about the strengths and weaknesses. The second part, Strategic Issues and Directions addresses the ways in which the aims can be met. The document has been conceived as a flexible response to changes within a dynamic system. According to the director, "Rather than being the definitive look at our present and future, this framework has been designed to provide a context in which ongoing activities can complement one another and in which future initiatives can be welcomed."

Morale and Relations Committee

A Morale and Relations Committee was established to develop and implement procedures for improving and then maintaining morale; and to develop relationships among students, staff, trustees and administrators which will permit the system to achieve established goals.

Code of Behaviour

Every school was asked to establish a Code of Behavior Manual for Students. Every student and parent was informed of the codes developed.

Survey of Quality of School Life

Quality of School Life Surveys are conducted periodically in all schools. At the Senior high level, information is collected on, school and education in general, aspirations, teaching, student rights and responsibilities, curriculum, standards and evaluation, and discipline and attendance.


Self-Concept InventoryThe district has developed self-esteem scales. These have been normed for the various division levels and are administered on a regular basis. Since 1985, self-concept activities for the classroom teacher have been developed and piloted. Two documents, Who Am I (elementary) and Who Am I (junior high/middle school), describing self-concept activities, have been made available and are used by teachers to enhance student self-concept.

Quality Assurance Committee (QAS)

The QAS developed a procedure for a systematic review of the schools to ensure that the quality of school life and achievement is maintained and enhanced. A team, which meets with teachers, parents, support staff and students, visits the school for up to a week, studies the entire learning environment, and assesses the school:

Communication Branch

The Communication Branch produces a variety of publications including, "News Update", "Good News Report", and "Board's Eye View". The Branch also produces pamphlets and school maps. All the above are designed to keep stakeholders updated as to activities, achievements, and developments in the Division.





Niagara South Board of Education
Curriculum Resources Centre,
Highway 20
Allanburg, Ontario


School Improvement Plan

The Niagara South Board of Education have developed and published A Plan for School Improvement - The Team Approach. A separate document provides an example of the application of the program. The process describes the following steps:

1. Assessment of Current Student Achievement in the School and Development of the Individual School Profile a. summaries of student achievement; general, language arts, mathematics, and miscellaneous

b. characteristics of the school community

c. identification of specific strengths and problem areas

d. Superintendent input

2. Identification of Schools - Schools in which overall student achievement is below expectation are identified


a. school initiated request

b. data gathered in the assessment

3. Establishment of a Curriculum Focus - Identification of the curriculum area(s) selected for attention within a school. Setting priorities to establish a focus for the implementation phase. The target area could be grade specific, across the school, or across a division.

4. Development of a School Improvement Plan - Development of a multi-year plan for appropriate problem-solving strategies to address needs and overcome obstacles. The following are considered as the major factors influencing achievement:

a. instructional emphasis

b. teaching and learning

c. evaluation

d. organizational climate

e. leadership

5. Development of Improvement Criteria - Long-range target expectations including criteria which would indicate "modest improvement" in the areas of focus. Includes the selection of evaluation instruments to be used to measure improvement or student achievement in each area.

6. Review of School Improvement - Summative evaluation phase, assessing successes and areas still requiring attention.




School District 23 (Saanich)
Keating Cross Road, P.O. Box 2000
Saanichton, B.C.
V0S 1M0


Community Awareness

Saanich School District has developed and produced a selection of community awareness materials. These materials evidence excellent layout and are typeset (not the usual typed and photocopied format); the overall impression created by this high quality is one of professionalism and competence. The District logo and motto "Saanich Schools: Great Places to Learn," is prominently featured on all publications. These materials include the following:

Saanich Schools News

A newsletter outlining district policy, goals and plans, and featuring achievements of students and staff.

Informational Brochures

A variety of brochures have been prepared. Some promote activities such as workshops for parents and professional development workshops for teachers, others provide information on such subjects as; the arts in the schools, the District scholarship fund, District middle-schools, enrichment programs, and the District internship program. Separate brochures promoting each school in the District have also been prepared.

Professional development workshops

The District offers an impressive series of Pro-D workshops. These range from half-day workshops on such subjects as "How to Improve the Instrumentation of Your Band," and "Science Without Stress, Planning for a Great Year in Science," to full-day "Mini-Conferences" on "Visual Arts" and "Drama", to a week-long series of workshops on "Computers."

Workshops for Parents

The District offers evening workshops for parents. The following topics were covered during one two-month period:

1. Confidence, Computers and Computation

2. Adolescence - Is that Really the Way We Were?

3. Reading: A Family Affair

4. A Day in the Life of a Kindergarten Child

5. Understanding Your Child's Learning Style

Sharing Discoveries

The District has produced Sharing Discoveries, a videotape promoting the philosophy and achievements of the District's school improvement projects. The specific goals and successes of each school are highlighted.

"Successes" - Positive Referral Program

A school/team/staff/student/parent "Success" referral may be submitted, on a form provided, to the District office. District staff take appropriate action to ensure that the "Success" receives due recognition. For example, top graduates may find themselves featured in a large newspaper advertisement, complete with biography, statements of praise from their teachers, a listing of activities and achievements, and a description of their future plans.




Red Deer Public School District No. 104
53 Street
Red Deer, Alberta
T4N 2E6


School Review and Evaluation Program

Red Deer Public has developed and published a booklet on school review and evaluation containing information on the following:

1. The Principal-School Review Program - Process and Procedures

2. School Reviews and Evaluation Policy - Aims, Components, Guidelines and Procedures

3. Supervision and Evaluation Policy - Aims, Requirements, Performance Criteria, Process, Documentation, and Personnel Involved

4. Personal Administrative Review Form

6. Administrative Evaluation - Group Interview with Staff

7. Principal Evaluation - Individual Teacher Interview Form

8. School Climate Profile - Questionnaire for teachers, Administrators, Review Team, and Support Staff

9. School Climate Profile - Student Interview Questionnaire

10. Elementary School Program Assessment: Parent Questionnaire

11. "School Reviews" - an article summarizing a District workshop on School Evaluation

Roles and Responsibilities

Describes the roles and responsibilities of each of the following, as stated in District Policy:

1. Superintendent

2. Deputy Superintendent

3. Assistant Superintendent - Personnel and Administration

4. Program Coordinators

5. Principals

Examples of Recommendation Reports

Detailed examples of recommendations for an elementary school, a junior high, and a senior high are included. Recommendations are of three types:

1. Maintenance Recommendations - positive things which should be continued and nurtured

2. Consideration Recommendations - those things which could be addressed by some staff members. The decision whether to implement this type of recommendation is left to staff.

3. Problem Areas - things that must be addressed immediately

Prince Albert School Division No. 3 11h Street EastPrince Albert, Saskatchewan
S6V 121


Peer Counseling

Prince Albert School Division has developed a "peer counseling program using Grades 7, 8, and 9 students. They report improved student - teacher and support staff relationships as a result. They have been impressed by the maturity and understanding exhibited by peer counselors.

Family Service Team

The Division's Family Service Team help parents locate required resources and services, provides liaison among students, staff, and parents, and generally works to improve communication among the Division's publics. Feedback has been very positive.





Sturgeon School Division No. 24
Frank Robinson Education Centre
104 Street
Morinville, Alberta


Communication and Community Awareness

The following initiatives have been taken by the Division in order to improve communication among its publics:

Educational Display-

A display made up of student work, a pictorial display of programs, student and staff awards, and a slide presentation is exhibited at each "town fair" in the Division.

Board/Community and Board/Staff Coffee Parties

Division priorities for the upcoming school year are shared with the public at coffee parties held at each Division school. The Board and Superintendent also hold similar meetings with each school staff.

Parent Advisory Councils

Parent Advisory Councils have been established at all District Schools.

Board/Staff Relations

Pancake Breakfast

The Division opens the school year with a pancake breakfast for all staff members and their families. The Superintendent's Office and the Trustees sponsor the event.

Staff Award Night

An annual staff awards night honours long-term employees of the division.

Attitude Survey

The Division is conducting an annual attitude survey involving each of its publics.

System Goals Study

The Division, with assistance from the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, is conducting a system-wide goals study.


The Halton Board of Education
West Education Centre
Mountainside Drive
Burlington, Ontario
L7P lC6


Effective Schools Task Force

The Halton Board established its Effective Schools Task Force in May of 1986. This group spent one year defining a "Future State" and developing a comprehensive and detailed five-year plan to achieve this ideal. As the mission, goals and objectives of each stage of this plan are clearly stated, and desired outcomes have been explicitly defined, the relative success of the program will be behaviorally verifiable. This planning process may be a valuable model for other districts wishing to implement system-wide school improvement projects.

Each Superintendent of Schools was given $3COO to encourage school-based improvement projects; nineteen possible improvement projects were offered as examples for consideration.




Saskatoon Board of Education
Third Avenue South
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7K lM7


Enhancing School Effectiveness

School Effectiveness leader

The Saskatoon Board of Education has employed a full-time "School Effectiveness Leader," to facilitate and coordinate its ongoing school effectiveness inservice programs and school improvement projects. Programs and projects underway include the following:

School-Based Inservice

The Board's Effectiveness Leader, using the Provincial "School Effectiveness Model," works with individual staffs to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the particular school and to develop "Action Committees" and "Action Plans" designed to assist in eliminating the perceived needs (weaknesses) of the school.

Administrator Inservice

A series of school effectiveness/caring climate workshops is offered for in-school administrators.

Non-Instructional Time (NIT)

Middle years students are provided with non-instructional time during school hours in order to promote the development of personal, social, physical, and academic interests. This may involve a quiet room in which to do homework, a room set aside for socializing, or supervision of an area for physical activities. This program allows middle years students to accept a degree of personal responsibility for them in school time.

CARE Programs

Primary students are matched with an older (Grade 4-8) "Care Partner," who acts as a knowledgeable friend, and occasionally as a tutor. Care Partners meet formally once a week to share social and academic activities; informally, the "senior" care partner often takes on the role of a protective older brother or sister during playground activities.


School newsletters often promote community as well as school events, and are used as opportunities to "brag" about the achievements of the students and the school.

Invitational Education

The system offers a workshop (either half-day or full-day) promoting Purkey and Novak's concept of "Invitational Education."





Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School District #1
Catholic School Centre
6th Avenue, S.E.
Calgary, Alberta


Community Awareness


The Calgary RCSS District publishes a comprehensive newsletter, in periodical format, seven times yearly (circulation 28,000). The newsletter includes; a message from the Superintendent, feature articles on school construction and improvements, school and student achievements and activities, and District news. This publication represents an excellent example of a comprehensive communications effort on the part of a school district.

The St. James-Assiniboia School Division No. 2Portage Ave.Winnipeg, ManitobaR3J OHS
Community Awareness

The St.James-Assiniboia School Division has developed and produced a selection of community awareness materials. These materials evidence excellent layout and are typeset (not the usual typed and photocopied format); the overall impression created by this high quality is one of professionalism and competence. The District logo and motto "St.James-Assiniboia: Great Schools for Growing and Learning," is prominently featured on all publications. These materials include the following:

Contact: News from the St.James-Assiniboia School Division A newsletter, in tabloid newspaper format, outlining district policy, goals, and plans, and featuring achievements of students and staff. Contact is published five times each year and distributed to all residents of St.James-Assiniboia.

Informational Brochures

A variety of brochures have been prepared which provide information on, and promote, District programs; these include:

"St.James-Assiniboia: Great Schools for Growing and Learning" (a promotional brochure for the District as a whole]

"C.L.A.S.S. - Contingencies for Learning Academic and Social Skills . . . A Guide for Parents"

"About-- the 04 Program . . . A Guide for Parents" (a program with vocational orientation]

"About St.James-Assiniboia Resource Program for Hearing Impaired Students . . . A Guide for Parents"

"Special Needs Programs at Strathmillan School"

"The Learning Centre" [assistance for students with severe academic difficulties]

"Educational Support Services: Clinical Se--vices in St.James-Assiniboia"

"About St.James-Assiniboia School Division's Developmental Education Program . . . A Guide for Parents"

"About Language Development in the St.James-Assiniboia School Division . . . A Guide for Parents"

"Silver Heights Collegiate: The International Baccalaureate Program"

"French Language Instruction in the St.James-Assiniboia School Division No. 211

"'So you're going to kindergarten...' a Handbook for Parents of Kindergarten Children"

"Resource Programs for Students in St.James-Assiniboia: A Cooperative Venture"


The Division has produced colourful Bumperstickers displaying the Division's Logo and Motto, "St.James-Assiniboia School Division:'Great Schools for Growing and Learning."'

School District #57 (Prince George)
- 9th Avenue
Prince George, B.C.
V2M lL7


School Growth Planning

Prince George School District has developed and published School Growth Planning: A Process Handbook for Schools

While this document was prepared for use within the Prince George District, it contains information which would '@-e of value to any school jurisdiction planning school effectiveness/climate projects. Materials which may '--e of interest include:

1. A selection of background literature

2. A description of three sample processes for planning growth objectives, all of which include the active involvement of school staffs.

3. Sample planning processes, including the development of objectives and action statements, for each of the following components;

a. strong leadership

b. positive climate

c. high expectations

d. recognition of achievement

e. quality instruction

f. quality curriculum and programs

g. supportive organization and management

h. assessment and revision

i. supportive community


School-Level Climate Improvement Projects


Bowser Elementary School
Bowser, B. C.


Characteristics: K - 5, 130 students

Many students are from isolated areas; few have pre-school experience


Young Writers Project - As a part of a comprehensive language arts program, each student in the school gives an oral presentation of his/her written work at one of several Writers' Presentation Assemblies.

Bowser Buddies - Peer tutoring in a wide range of subject areas, and specifically for oral reading, editing, and proofreading. Each student has a peer with whom to share writing, reading, and other activities and problems.

Student/Teachers - Parents are invited to the school and taught to use a computer program by their child.

Community Involvement - Major themes are used within classrooms and throughout the school (harvest, healthy heart, circus, etc.), culminating in a community/school event. All major events are jointly planned by parents and teachers.

Computer Licence - Students who demonstrate competence in using the school's computers are granted a computer licence which permits them to use the computers during free time.

Churchbridge Elementary SchoolPO Box 410Churchbridge, Saskatchewan


Characteristics: K - 12, 198 students


Students of the Week Newspaper Article, - Student achievements (academic, athletic, artistic, citizenship, etc.), are recognized in the community newspaper. A deliberate attempt is made to include every student once during each year. weekly articles are cut out, laminated and displayed on a large poster in the school trophy case. Yearly posters are displayed in a school hallway.

Wall of Fame - A permanent display of outstanding student achievements (pictures and a description of the accomplishment are included).

Happy Grams - Teachers recognize improvements and accomplishments with brief "telegrams" given directly to the student, placed in a book, taped to a coat, etc.

Peer Tutoring - Time is scheduled for grade 6 and 7 students to work with students in kindergarten and grade 1.

Parent Volunteers - Parents construct individualized learning materials and work as aides with small groups of students.

Academic Awards - Awards in the form of rosette ribbons and certificates are awarded for academic achievement and individual effort.

Mountain View SchoolPO Box 1130Hinton, AlbertaTOE 1BO

Characteristics: K - 750% English, 50% French ImmersionThree "special needs" classrooms


Theme Days - Western Day, Wear Red if You Dare Day, Hat Day, etc..

Concerts - Christmas, Mime & Dance, Spring

Cleanest Classroom Contest - Each week an additional 15 minutes of recess is given to the students/teacher with the cleanest classroom.

Citizen of the Week - Photos of students chosen from each grade area are displayed in the hallway.

School Spirit - School assemblies, concerts, T-shirts, etc.

Skeena Junior Secondary School
3411 Munroe Street,
Terrace, B. C.
V8G 3Cl


Characteristics: Junior High


Litter Control Program - Each day a different staff member assumes responsibility for the cleanliness of the school and grounds (this usually amounts to about one day a month per teacher). In addition, two or three students are allowed cut of each class for 5 - 10 minutes to pick up garbage each day. Result = an infinitely cleaner school.

Murals Program - With the assistance of the art department, twenty 100 sq.ft. murals have been placed in the school. None have been tampered with or defaced.

Student of the Week Award - Student achievements (academic and otherwise) are recognized weekly. The names of those so honored are announced and the students are presented with a certificate by the principal. Copies of the certificates are displayed on a special bulletin board in the main entrance foyer.

Student Council Room - Student council members are given keys to a private Student Council Room. This has assisted in motivating hard work and commitment on the part of council members.

School Spirit - Whole school assemblies are held once a month in a local theater. School activities are "showcased" at these assemblies.

Late Program - Students who are chronically tardy are denied access to regular classes (a form of in school suspension).


Holy Heart of Mary High School
Bonaventure Avenue
St. John's, Newfoundland
AlC 3Z3

Characteristics: Senior High, gr. 10 - 12

All girl student population of 1070 Students from all parts of the city attend


Pre-registration Inservice Day - Students interested in attending Holy Heart are invited, in groups of 50, to spend a day in the school while regular classes are in progress. The principal meets with each group and explains school philosophy, expectations, policies, rules, courses, registration procedures, etc. Students in attendance take prospective students on tours of the facilities.

Welcome Party - Each September an afternoon is devoted to welcoming new students (approximately 350 per year), to the school. Students are encouraged to get to know one another and make new friends. A lunch is provided for the group.

Award Day - In October a student assembly is held at which awards are presented for academic achievements and perfect attendance during the previous school year.

Christmas Assembly - A student planned variety show. Students and teachers present humourous skits concerning teachers, TV stars, the boys in the neighboring school, etc.

Year-end Assembly - A student-planned assembly at which academic, participation and athletic awards, special medals and trophies are presented. Awards include "Student of the Year," "Senior Athlete of the Year," and "Junior Athlete of the Year." Students also present gifts and awards thanking teachers and student council members.

Interclass Activities - Interclass activities are sponsored during the noonhour; points are awarded on participation (including teachers). Towards year-end an afternoon is devoted to interclass competition in "fun" activities. A "Most Spirited Class" award is presented to the winning class, based on total points earned.

Jeopardy - A jeopardy contest, open to all students, is held during noonhours. Top students compete in a "Tournament of Champions". The winner is presented with a $50 prize.

Students' Retreats - Students from each class who wish to participate are excused from classes to attend a "Retreat Day" run by a "Pastoral Team" of teachers, university students, and senior students. Retreats are held outside the school and focus on a particular theme such as "You are Gifted."

Teachers' Pastoral Team - A teacher self-improvement support group which provides "Reflection Programs" for social occasions, support for individual teachers, and plans teacher social events such as a pizza party, a pot-luck dinner and dance, staff breakfasts and lunches during exams, and special "Surprise Parties" when morale and energy are low.

Staff Relationships and School Climate Day - An inservice day focusing on positive/negative aspects of the school environment, personal contribution to school climate, identification of areas needing attention, and positive approaches to areas of immediate concern.


Orangeville District Secondary School
22 Faulkner Street
Orangeville, Ontario
L9W 2G7


Communications Lab - Selected students (usually in groups of 24), are invited to attend this one-day, out of school program. Students and selected staff participate in a number of communications exercises intended to improve communications skills, increase self-understanding and understanding of others. The lab also provides an opportunity for students to interact with staff members on an informal, friendly basis. Students learn to become more effective listeners, understand non-verbal communication, recognize their own and other's strengths, and build self-confidence.




Hillcrest Public School
P.O. Box 759
Campbellford, Ontario


Characteristics: Primary, junior and intermediate levels


The following are part of an overall program intended to improve school-community communication, and school climate.

Reporters Club - A school club provides the local newspaper with weekly articles highlighting student and staff achievements, and describing school programs. Students also prepare broadcasts of school events for a local television station.

Adopt-a-Gram Program - Grade 5 students are paired with foster grandparents from a local home for the aged. Once a month they exchange visits, time and talents; this shared experience has had far reaching implications.

Student-"Teachers" - Grade 7 and 8 students visit two local day-care centers once a week to read to younger students. Students are keen to participate, and accept responsibility making up any classes missed.

Choirs - School choirs participate in community service club ventures and perform in community services (i.e. Remembrance Day).

School Motto and Logo - A contest was held to produce a new school motto and logo which would reflect positively on the school. The winning motto was "Hillcrest: The School That Cares."

Coffee with the Principal - Parents meet informally with the principal once a month to discuss educational trends, school programs, and school related problems.


Ellerslie Elem. & Jr. High School
Box 23, Site 1, R.R. #1South Edmonton,
T6H 4N6

Characteristics: Primary to Gr. 9

Positive Referral Program: Students - Students exhibiting exemplary behaviors may be referred to the office, using a form provided. The Principal- or Assistant Principal discusses the referral with --he student, and, if applicable, phones or writes the student's parents to inform them of the schools awareness of the student's contribution to the school.

Positive Referral Program: Staff. - A positive staff referral may be submitted, on a form provided, by a colleague noting special efforts on the part of a fellow staff member. The Principal responds to such referrals personally.

Home Room Program - The "Homeroom Program" is based on the philosophy that guidance is a responsibility of all staff members. Combined grade homerooms (grades 7, 8, and 9, maximum 24 students) meet for morning registration and for a twenty-minute homeroom period before the noon break. While the homeroom period is used --For day-to-day "housekeeping" (announcements, report cards, etc.), the period is provided primarily for informal teacher/student interaction and for planned discussions and activities on such topics as self-concept, positive social interaction, school pride, study habits, problem solving, decision making, shared responsibility, leadership, and improving school performance. Student input is an important factor in determining discussion topics and activities. The teacher acts as an advocate for each of his or her homeroom students.

Bonnie Doon Composite High School
8205 - 90 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
T6C lN8


Characteristics: 650 students, Gr. 10 to 12


Advisor Program - All students belong to an advisor group (maximum 20 students), which is headed by a particular teacher or staff member throughout their high school career. The purpose of the program is to provide support and positive reinforcement for students. Students from different grades are mixed in these groups giving younger students a feeling of security and older students experience in a leadership role. These groups are also responsible for organizing most of the school's special events, including parent interviews. Advisor classes, which are held daily, include planned discussions and activities on such topics as time management, values clarification, career development, interpersonal skills, wellness, self-esteem and self-concept, school pride, study habits, problem solving, decision making, shared responsibility, leadership, and improving school performance. Student input is an important factor in determining discussion topics and activities. The teacher acts as an advocate for each of his or her "advises'' students.

Positive Referral Program: Students - Students exhibiting exemplary behaviors may be referred to the office, using a form provided. The Principal or Assistant Principal discusses the referral with the student, and, if applicable, phones or writes the student's parents to inform them of the schools awareness of the student's contribution to the school.

Study Skills Handbook - Students receive a handbook which contains self-test questionnaires and suggestions on organization, concentration, preparing for exams, task analysis and time management, reading strategies, using textbooks effectively, and note-taking.

Theme of the Month - Each month of the school year has a theme appropriate to activities going on in the school. For example:

September - "Getting to know each other and the school"

October - "Non-verbal communication"November - "Career interests"December - "Social action and community action"

January - "Study skills"

February - "The art of human relations"

March - "Looking after ourselves"

April - "Internationalism"

May - "Drinking and driving"

June - "Farewell"



Winston Churchill High School
15th Avenue and 18th Street North
Lethbridge, Alberta
TlJ 2Z5


Characteristics: Senior High, approximately 550 students


Evaluation Report - The Lethbridge School District No. 51 has published 38 page evaluation report on Winston Churchill High School which could serve as an example for other schools or districts planning similar studies. The document includes the following items which may be of interest:

1. The evaluation team, the scope of the evaluation and the procedures followed

2. An overview of results of;

a. surveys conducted with parents, students, and staff

b. academic/vocational program reviews conducted

c. student services program reviews; ESL, Individual Enrichment, Advisory System and Counselling, and the Habilitation and Education Program

d. non-curricular program reviews; administrative services, secretarial services, and learning centre aide services

e. co-curricular activities and student council reviews

f. budget and financial control reviews

g. caretaking review

h. school safety review

i. cafeteria program review

3. Review of the schools internship support program

4. Review of the physical facility and plant operation


Sister McGuigan High School
2202 - 5th Avenue North
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4R 7T9

Characteristics: Catholic Senior High


Sister McGuigan has had an Effective Schools Committee in operation since September, 1985. This committee, in conjunction with the staff, identified "Improvement of Academic Performance" as a major concern in the school. The following programs were developed to improve student performance.

Differentiated Learning - Two staff in-services were held to develop practical changes which could be implemented. Staff consensus was reached in four areas:

1. use of learning packages as a means of individualizing instruction

2. creative timetabling to accommodate student choices in course selection

3. reorganization of the exist4lng learning assistance program

4. reorganization of time allocation, personnel, and physical resources

Study Skills - A staff in-service was presented on three approaches to study skills: a) SQ3R (focus on note-taking), b) TOWER (focus on writing), and SCORER (focus on test taking). The last three weeks of the first semester were used to focus on developing these skills. Each week the entire staff emphasized one approach. A 40 foot sign at the front entrance of the school promoted the skill of the week.

During the final two weeks of the semester, the school was opened in the evenings in order to provide students with access to labs and the Resource Center, and a quiet place to study. Four or 5 teachers were on hand each night to supervise, assist, and tutor students. An evening workshop entitled "How to Help Your Son/Daughter Do Better in School What Are Study Skills," was held for parents during this period.




Newcombville Elementary School
R.R. 5, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia
B4V 2W4


Characteristics: Elementary


School-Wide, Non-judgmental Discipline Program - Newcombville Elementary instituted a school-wide, nonjudgmental discipline system (developed by Dr. F. Kuzsman at St. Francis Xavier University), after many other methods of dealing with the more serious discipline problems in the school failed to produce the desired results. The system is designed to deal with serious discipline problems without interrupting classroom instruction, rewarding the disruptive student with teacher or class attention, or harming the student's self-esteem. The program includes student and parent/community involvement, and is designed to enable disruptive students to develop acceptable behaviors. Schools wishing to implement a similar program should arrange for inservice training by qualified personnel.



R. D. Parker Collegiate
272 Thompson Drive
Thompson, Manitoba


Characteristics: Grades 9-12 - 1100 students  
Climate Study

A climate study of R. D. Parker was conducted in May of 1984, using the Teacher, Parent, and Student Opinion inventories from the "National Study of School Evaluation." Results were compiled and analyzed during the 1984-85 school year; a "School Climate Evaluation Inservice" was held in June of 1985. Three areas were identified as focal points for improvement; a) developing improved school spirit, b) improving communication with parents; and c) increasing emphasis on academic achievement in each school- course. The following action plans were implemented:

Action Plans to Meet Identified Needs - 1985: Improving School Spirit - A "House Structure" was designed to promote a sense of community for teachers and students. All staff and students were assigned to one of five houses (teachers were responsible for the initiation and planning of activities). A point system, in which houses were awarded points based on individual student: participation in extra-curricular activities, was established-. Students received point cards on which to collect points. Point totals were tallied bimonthly and scores were posted in a special display. A student/teacher committee will be formally evaluating this program in June of 1967.

Public Relations - The public relations function of the school was decentralized. Information on school- activities and achievements is provided to a District bulletin, "Tales to Tell," and to the local newspaper, radio and television stations. A new "Media and Communications" program is being introduced in 1987-88. One of the objectives of this course will be the production of public relations tapes for the community television channel.

Expectations for Academic Achievement - A number of efforts were made to establish higher academic expectations; these included:

1. Establishment of an "01" [general course] program subcommittee which identified the principles of "01" program delivery, identified areas requiring improvement, and established expectations for student performance

2. Establishment of a subcommittee with a mandate to develop a program development/evaluation model for RDPC.

3. Revamping of the advanced mathematics program (Grades 9 12), providing a clear statement of learning outcomes.

4. Introduction of formal term-end examinations (worth 20% to 25% of the final mark) in all Grade 10 - 12 courses.

5. Formalization of evaluation criteria in all courses.

6. Establishment of common departmental examinations in English 300; Mathematics 300, 200, and 100; History 200; and Typing 102 and 202.

7. Establishment of an advanced French program, Grades 9 - 12.

Action Plans to Meet Identified Needs - 1986
Improvement of instruction was identified as the goal for the 1986 school year. To this end, staff established a set of operational goals in the following areas:

Instructional Services

1. To require a higher standard of performance from students in 110111 courses

2. To implement consistent standards within each subject department and program

3. To require a higher standard of written work from students in all courses

Student Management 1. To apply attendance policies in a clear consistent manner

2. To insist on punctuality

3. To reduce opportunity for undesirable behavior

4. To apply clear, firm sanctions, in accordance with policies and regulations, for undesirable behavior

Support Services 1. To implement a resource teacher program, based on diagnostic testing, and develop program adjustments for special needs students

2. To improve communication between counselors and teachers

Staff Development 1. To implement a comprehensive staff development program providing teachers and administrators with; a) direct assistance where required, b) curriculum development activities, c) ancillary inservice education, and action research opportunities. Each teacher was required to identify instructional skills to be improved, including how the above four inservice components would be used to facilitate improvement

2. To enhance the role of the department head in the instructional process, using Long's "Improving School and Classroom Effectiveness"

School Climate 1. To concentrate on the development of positive staff-student relationships

2. To provide a variety of extra-curricular activities through the house system and student council

3. To foster and encourage a continuing sense of pride in the school

Communication with Parents 1. To improve methods of report card distribution

2. To increase frequency of communication regarding progress and attendance

3. To improve contact with the community through a pro-active public relations program



Crestwood School
2300 - 19th Avenue S.E.
Medicine Hat, Alberta
TlA 3X5


Characteristics: ECS to Gr. 6 - 483 students


Comfort and Appearance of the Environment: Directions-Introductions Board Crestwood has installed a "Directions-Introductions Board" in the building foyer. This board contains a welcome, a map of the school, and pictures of all staff members. Visitors have commented that they appreciate knowing, not only where they are going, but also the names of teachers they meet in their travels throughout the school.

"Stars of Crestwood" - Cut-out stars are suspended from the ceiling in the building foyer. Each student in the school has his or her picture on one of the stars, which are arranged by class.

Staffroom - Crestwood redecorated and refurnished its staffroom, including the addition of pictures, posters and plants. They report that this has had a very positive effect on staff morale.

Plants in the School - Plants have been placed in various locations throughout the school, adding a "natural" sense of warmth.

Cleanliness and Appearance - While the school had always been clean, there was a perception that it lacked an extra sense of "lustre". In cooperation with custodial staff, a constant emphasis is now placed on keeping the entire school, including washrooms, "sparkling and shiny."

Bulletin Boards for Student Work - Extra bulletin boardsdisplaying student work were added so that one cannot avoid becoming "immersed" in the displays when walking down the halls.

Photographs of School Activities,- The school purchased 3 cameras, and solicited a $300 donation from its parent council, in order to take and display photographs of student activities in classrooms and hallways.

Honor Roll - A school Honor Roll has been placed in the school foyer, in conjunction with the school Logo and Motto, "Pride in Achievement."

Student Participation

Special Days - One day each month is a special theme-day (e.g., stuffed-animal day, red day, jeans day, punk day, hat day, kite day, what I don't want to be day, etc.).

Christmas Door Decorating - All classroom doors are decorated, by students, in a Christmas theme.

Special Student Presentations - Once a week a student or class "broadcasts" a special presentation on the school's PA system. Stories, poems, songs, etc. are featured.

Birthday Announcements - Teachers are responsible for ensuring that student birthdays are entered in the daily announcements.

Student Awards and certificates - Student achievements are recognized through; win-it stickers, the honor roll, year-end achievement medallions, and Crestwood Merit Certificates.

Intramural Program - Activities in the school gym are planned for students who arrive early in the morning., at all recess times, noon-hour, and after school.

Student Talent Day - A special assembly is held at which students "show-off" their special talents.

"My School Night" - An informal evening is organized so that students can introduce their parents to their school.

Staff Morale

Bouquets Given at Staff Meetings - Staff members' contributions to students and the school are always recognized at staff meetings, by administration and other staff.

Golden Apple Award - A golden apple is passed from one staff member to another at staff meetings. The last recipient chooses who will receive the apple based on actions the presenting teacher has observed and appreciated.

Interclassroom Visitation and Cooperative Planning Inservice and professional development time is allocated so that teachers can visit other classrooms, and plan together, "on company time."

Staff Control of Contingency Funds - Each teacher has a $150 fund to spend on miscellaneous items he or she believes would be useful in his or her classroom. The custodian also has a cash float for purchasing small items.

Miscellaneous Climate Programs and Activities 1. Thank you cards with the school logo and motto on the cover

2. Parent sponsored bingos as a major fund-raising activity

3. Parent/student activities organized for each classroom

4. Parent volunteer program; 35 parents are actively involved

5. "Revised Crestwood Notes," the school's information bulletin, goes home monthly

6. School logo was redesigned, school letterhead, featuring the school logo and motto, was introduced; school t shirts and sweatshirts were made available

7. Staff meets for "curriculum study" each Friday after school

8. Staff provide lunch for staff meetings

9. Professional and non-professional staff attend all staff meetings

10. Teachers' keys provide access to almost all areas of the school

  11. A School Policy Handbook has been produced

12. Parent Council sponsors student activities - $2/student

13. An expanded and improved school-opening handbook has been produced



Landsdowne Public School
c/o Lambton County Board of Education
P.O. Box 2019,
200 Wellington Street
Sarnia, Ontario
N7T 7L2

Involved Parents Committee - Landsdowne has a very active parents group which coordinates Friday lunches, carries out fund-raising activities, and provides a communications link with the community.

Open Communication - Regular staff meetings, an open door policy, and "coffee klatches" for parents maintain a free flow of information.

Rules - staff, students, and parents are invited to discuss, question, and suggest different approaches to school rules.

School Letter Program - parents and staff have initiated a school letter program which recognizes achievements in academics, athletics, and the arts; the aim is to encourage students to become well-rounded individuals.



Forest Central Public School
c/o Lambton County Board of Education
P.O. Box 2019,
200 Wellington Street
Sarnia, Ontario
N7T 7L2


Characteristics: a significant Native population


Display of Students Work - Forest Central has a display of student work titled the "Forest Central Gallery of Originals."

Recognition of Student Achievement - Well Done Certificates, important person stickers, and warm fuzzies are given to students for work well done or good behavior.

Birthday Greeting - The principal personally delivers a birthday card to each student on his or her birthday. Cards are mailed to students whose birthdays occur during holidays.

Positive Referrals - Students are sent to the Principal's office to read, or display good work.

Newsletters - Newsletters, containing information about school/student events, activities and achievements are sent home about every two weeks.

Native Awareness - Native awareness days, and native arts and crafts are promoted as a part of the school program. The school maintains a collection of native art. The school also employs a native education worker.



Errol Public School
c/o Lambton County Board of Education
P.O. Box 2019,
200 Wellington Street
Sarnia, Ontario
N7T 7L2


Hobby Fair - Errol sponsors a hobby fair at which students and parents display and demonstrate their hobbies, craft activities, and special talents. The fair is open to the community for one afternoon and evening.




Devine Street School
321 Devine Street
Sarnia, Ontario
N7T lT9


Breakfast Program - The school, with parent support, offers a breakfast program, which provides a sense of community as well as a nutritious breakfast.

Plants in the School. - Parents donated hanging plants to beautify the school hallways.

Clowns. - A Primary Unit with a circus theme was completed when all teachers and the principal dressed as clowns. The students provided the clown face for the principal. The day ended with the students giving the Principal a "p,'-e in the face."


Colborne Street School
P.O. Box 250
Corrunna, Ontario

Musical - Colborne is presenting a "musical: involving 250 students. Over 50 parents (who come to assist during school hours, as well as after school and on weekends) are involved in various aspects of the production. The school reports that the musical, and related activities, have created a relaxed atmosphere, and spirit of cooperation which have greatly increased the school's sense of community and brought students, parents and teachers much closer together.



Lambton Centennial School
R.R. #1 Petrolia, Ontario
N0N 1R0

Special Education "Pen-Pals" - Lambton Centennial's Primary/Junior Special Education Class has developed a pen-pal relationship with a Special Education class in Davidson, Michigan. This program has expanded to include a yearly intra-school visitation that includes parents. Centennial's grade 7's assist special education students in preparing materials that are sent to pen-pals, and help to run activities when the pen-pals visit.

Science Fair - Primary students are paired with older students who act as "guides" for a tour of the school's science fair. Parents and community members are also invited to view the student's projects.

Framing Student Work - Each year, several pieces of student artwork are professionally framed and added to the school's gallery.

Hospital Visits - Every student who is hospitalized is visited by the principal as well as by teachers and students.

Computer Newsletter - A computer newsletter is produced by students several times each year. This encourages student interest in "desktop publishing", and provides students with a practical application for computer graphics and word processing skills.

Secretary of the Day - Students and staff were involved in a "campaign", which included producing a book and a banner, to support their nomination of the school secretary as the "Secretary of the Day" on a local radio station.

Volunteer Appreciation - Community members who volunteered time to assist in school activities are honored with a certificate and small gift at the school's final assembly. Volunteers who assisted approximately once a week throughout the year are invited to a staff dinner at the end of the year.



Sarnia Northern Collegiate institute
and Vocational School
940 Michigan Avenue
Sarnia, Ontario
N7S 2Bl


Beautification of Northern Committee Northern's students and teachers donated time and energy to raise funds and complete projects to beautify the common areas in the school (cafeteria, hallways, grounds, etc). These areas were painted and decorated, flower baskets were hung in the halls, new larger (and more attractive) waste containers were provided for the cafeteria, outdoor smoking areas were cut from 3 to 1, and new shrubs and flowers were planted in the school courtyard. An outdoor sign for promoting school activities and a computerized electronic sign writer inside the school were also added. These efforts were linked to awareness assemblies for the entire student body, staff meetings, and student council and club activities.



St Clair School
c/o Lambton County Board of Education
P.O. Box 2019,
200 Wellington Street
Sarnia, Ontario
N7T 7L2


Physical Education Opportunity Program for Exceptional Learners (P.E.O.P.E.L.) - This program integrates senior secondary school students (particularly those interested in working with handicapped persons, or in the helping professions in general) and moderately mentally handicapped students. Senior students who wish to apply to the program are required to have at least one senior level physical education or fitness credit, and are further screened through interviews. Successful applicants begin the course with a three week orientation on exceptionality. Following orientation, each student is matched with an exceptional student; these pairs work together in physical education classes for the remainder of the term. Senior students are evaluated on the basis of the following:

1. Attendance and effort

2. The orientation program

3. Assignments by teaching staff

4. Record keeping (each peer tutor maintains a binder documenting the progress of his or her "partner")

5. Peer tutor effectiveness



Ideas for Improving Climate*



1. Create a school-climate team of teachers and students.

2. Ask teachers and students to propose activities that will improve climate.

3. Use assessment instruments and brainstorming sessions to identify problems and proposed solutions.

4. Visit schools with a reputation for having a positive climate; take teachers and students with you.

5. Hold informal sessions. (e.g., breakfast or lunch) with selected groups of teachers, staff members, students and parents.

8. Promote and publicize the positive things that happen in your school.

7. Be sure that school information gets to parents and students through handbooks, newsletters and notes.

8. Use your phone to improve communication with parents and others and suggest that teachers do the same.

9. Reward achievement: create honor rolls; have award assemblies; publicize the achievers; both academic and non-academic, in the student newspaper and in local newspapers.

10. Invite parents and others to the school to visit classrooms., help with projects, or serve as resources for the various programs.

11. Develop a strong student council and have its members propose special activities for students.

12. Create a parents' advisory committee.

13. Have special days to promote school spirit (e.g., dress-up days, breakfast for parents, etc.).

14. Use "happy-grams", thank-you notes, a recognition bulletin board, and similar devices to recognize special achievements or happenings.

15. Invite parents and others (e.g., senior citizens) to have lunch with students.

16. Hold potluck suppers with teachers, staff, and parents.

17. Involve teachers in your administrative tasks, such as budget preparation, scheduling, and organizing committees.

18. Have projects that create school pride and school spirit.

19. Hold student seminars to hear their complaints.

20. Hold assemblies on a regular basis.

21. Photograph and display all activities by students, teachers, and staff members that deserve special recognition.

22. Take a teacher, a student, or a small group to lunch.

23. Get involved in the school curriculum and in the instructional program.

24. Use school promotional buttons and bumper stickers; create a school motto.

25. Hold sporting events and informal competition between teachers and students (e.g., basketball, chess, etc.).

26. Hold a school arts and crafts fair.

27. Appoint a committee of teachers and students each year with the task of checking school facilities to determine factors that do and do not promote positive school climate.

28. Visit a classroom at least once a week.

29. End each week on Friday afternoon with a social hour for teachers and staff.

30. Shadow some students to determine their view of the school.

31. Celebrate birthdays.

32. Celebrate each day; be cheerful and pleasant to be around.

33. Hold staff "get togethers" on occasion.

34. Decorate classrooms and the school.

35. Improve the school grounds with the assistance of students, teachers and parents.

36. Display student work.

                    37. Invite others to your school.


 * Many of these ideas were borrowed and adapted from a booklet entitled "How to Improve School Climate and Communication" (author unknown) pp. 49-53.

  Please let us know of your climate improvement activities.

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This monograph has attempted to outline the current knowledge on school climate. In particular, the focus has been on the improvement of the school learning environment. The orientation has been that "schools do make a difference", that climate is an important component of the school ethos, and that climate is a determinant of school achievement.

Chapter 1 focussed on the theory and research on school climate. Chapter 2, on the other hand, provided mechanisms for assessing and modifying the school climate. Various needs assessment techniques and instruments were provided. A five-step model for climate improvement was also outlined. Finally, Chapter 3 provided many examples of climate improvement activities currently underway across Canada.

It is apparent that schools and districts are improving the climate in various ways. Some have focussed on the reward systems and school appearance aspects, while others have grappled with such issues as student self-concept and teacher effects.

If there is a message in this monograph, it is that climate does make a difference. Yes, we can do a better job of climate improvement. And yes, there are many ways in which we can accomplish this task. Additionally, climate improvement is a collaborative, problem-solving and group process. Climate improvement is a team process, it cannot be done by one person alone. It requires the attention of students, staff, parents, and of course, the principal of the school. In fact, the principal must provide the energy required to undertake such an initiative. But, the rewards of such an effort are immense.

Hopefully this monograph has provided you with some new insights and ideas. Furthermore, it is hoped that you will use it in ways that meet your needs.

As you work through the materials, your suggestions and comments would be appreciated. We would like to hear about your climate improvement activities.

Let me conclude with a motto to guide you in your work: "If you don't walk it, don't talk it.

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