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Measuring and improving school climate: A strategy that recognizes, honors and promotes social, emotional and civic learning The foundation for love, work and engaged citizenry


by Jonathan Cohen, Arnold Fege & Terry Pickeral — June 25, 2009

n this commentary, the authors call upon educational leaders to think broadly and anew about the responsibility that the federal as well as State Departments of Education have for the well being of children and families. The authors detail six recommendations that will help to close the current gap between school climate research, policy, practice guidelines, and teacher education: (1) Define school climate in ways that are aligned with recent research; (2) Recommend that schools routinely and comprehensively evaluate school climate, recognizing student, parent and school personnel “voice” as well as all of the major dimensions (e.g. safety, relationships, teaching and learning and the environment) that shape school climate; (3) Adopt standards for positive school climate as well as school climate assessment procedures; (4) Use school climate assessment as a measure of accountability; (5) Encourage teacher preparation programs that give teachers and administrators the tools to evaluate classroom, school climate and take steps to use these findings to promote a climate for learning in our schools; and, (6) Increase research on the evaluation and dissemination of resources focused on improving school climate.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: June 25, 2009
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15698, Date Accessed: 12/14/2017 9:47:39 AM

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About the Author
  • Jonathan Cohen
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    JONATHAN COHEN is the co-founder and president of the Center for Social and Emotional Education and co-chair of the National School Climate Council. He is also an Adjunct Professor in Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University; Adjunct Professor in Education, School of Professional Studies, City University of New York; and, a practicing clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. He is the author and/or editor of many publications including Caring Classrooms / Intelligent Schools: The Social Emotional Education of Young Children (2001), New York: Teachers College Press; and co-author with J. Devine of Making your school safe: Strategies to Protect Children and Promote Learning (2007), New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Arnold Fege
    Public Education Network
    ARNOLD F. FEGE is the Director of Public Engagement and Advocacy for the Public Education Network (PEN) where he covers education reform, parental involvement, and community engagement issues on the Hill and agencies, specializing in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). PEN is a Network of 81 local education funds located in the poorest and most disadvantaged school districts in the country devoted to assuring quality public schools for all children through public engagement.

    Fege has over 35 years of public education and child advocacy experience as a public school teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and desegregation director. He was the National PTA director of governmental relations for 17 years, and is recognized for his leading work and articles in linking school and community. As a staff person for Senator Robert F. Kennedy, he helped draft provisions in the original ESEA legislation and has been involved in every reauthorization of ESEA since that time. He is a graduate of Teachers College and a member of the National School Climate Council.

  • Terry Pickeral
    Cascade Educational Consultants
    TERRY PICKERAL is the president of Cascade Educational Consultants and former Executive Director of the National Center for Learning and Citizenship (NCLC) at the Education Commission of the States (ECS) and provides leadership in: youth engagement, school climate, civic development education policy, state and district leadership to sustain quality citizenship education service-learning, and education reform that focuses on student and community engagement. He is also the co-chair of the National School Climate Council, a national consortium advocating for policies and practices in support of quality, equitable, and engaging learning environments.
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