Prevent Bullying

Elements of Effective School Climate

  1. Strong Administrator buy-in and support
  2. Effective school policy
  3. School Climate Committee in place to address bullying and school climate
  4. Assessment
  5. Data driven decision making
  6. Program and practices
  7. Measuring and evaluating
  1. Strong Administrator buy-in and support

    Strong administrator buy-in and support are essential for promoting real, positive changes in school climate. School principals and the staff are the gatekeepers for change. The relationship amongst staff set the standard for the school and empowers a shared vision towards change for positive school climate and reduced bullying. Supported staff is able to implement day-to-day action steps in pursuit of the larger shared vision and mission of the school.

    The first step towards change is to recognize your schools current beliefs by having open, honest discussions in order to create understanding and to overcome any barriers to change. It is important to recognize and celebrate past efforts, engage student voices to speak to the staff on their perception of the current status of the school culture, and move from a “culture of blame” to a no-fault framework..

  2. Effective school policy

    Effective school policy is consistent with state anti bullying law and clearly reflects the school’s commitment to promoting positive climate. Policies are effective when they reflect a proactive, preventive approach that emphasizes supports available for all students.

    According to Public Act 11-232, An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws, signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy on July 13, 2011, (1) Schools must adopt a clear policy against bullying behaviors; (2) Each local and regional board of education shall develop and implement a [policy] safe school climate plan to address the existence of bullying in its schools.

  3. School Climate Committee in place to address bullying and school climate

    A school climate committee is in place to address bullying and school climate and serves as the vehicle for positive school-level change. Forming a school climate committee is one of the foundations for developing effective school climate improvement efforts.

    According to Public Act 11-232, An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws, each school must have a safe school climate committee, including at least one parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the school appointed by the school principal, to meet the following requirements:

    • Receive copies of completed reports following investigations of bullying
    • Identify and address patterns of bullying among students in the school
    • Review and make recommendations to the district safe school climate coordinator regarding the district’s safe school climate plan based on issues and experiences specific to the school
    • Educate students, school employees and parents and guardians of students on issues relating to bullying
    • Collaborate with the district safe school climate coordinator in the collection of data regarding bullying
    • Perform any other duties as determined by the school principal that are related to the prevention, identification and response to school bullying for the school
    • Any parent or guardian serving as a member of the safe school climate committee may not participate in these activities or any that may compromise the confidentiality of a student

  4. Assessment

    Public Act 11-232 requires that public schools conduct biennial assessments using a state-issued survey on or after July 1, 2012.

    Using assessments provides information for meaningful and data-driven decision-making throughout all stages of the improvement process. Collecting baseline data, administering pre- and post-tests, and implementing annual or biennial surveys not only measure the school climate, but assess the effectiveness of programs and practices and collects student feedback on an ongoing basis.

  5. Data driven decision making

    Once your safe school climate committee has analyzed the data received from the surveys, and chosen an area of concern to focus on, it is time to develop an action plan. The action plan should be evidence-based and support the National School Climate Standards, the State anti-bullying legislation, and your mission and vision of your school community. Be cautious to not develop an action plan that is overly ambitious. Although it is a natural reaction to want to “save the school” and start from scratch, keep in mind that creating a series of small successes will do more to create buy-in and develop a positive momentum that will, in turn, be the start needed to create a positive change

  6. Program and practices

    School-wide program, policies and practices reach EVERY student in the school community and look at the building level, classroom level and individual level. When evidence-based, social emotional and civic learning occurs, schools promote student engagement and positive youth development.

    Small group programs, practices and interventions for students address behaviors in the early stages. These students may be beginning to display “mean” or bullying behaviors or have moderate difficulty following rules and meeting school expectations. Typically delivered in small groups of 4-6, interventions for these students are likely to involve informal or formal mentoring, opportunities to build “developmental assets,” insight groups, and/or functional behavior assessment.

    Individualized programs, practices and interventions for students address challenging behaviors faced by the HIGHEST-NEED students. These students may chronically bully, engage in high-risk behaviors, or frequently violate school rules and expectations. Typically delivered one-on-one or in groups of no more than three students, interventions likely involve intensive counseling, and/or curricula and programs that are qualitatively different than those used with most students.

  7. Measuring and evaluating

    After a specific program/practice is implemented, it is important to reflect and analyze its effectiveness towards reaching your specific school climate goal. Understanding the challenges and successes may provide you invaluable support in the ongoing process of your school climate improvement efforts. Evaluation tools and the school climate survey implemented every 2 years can assist in measuring your progress and will give important information as to how the school is doing as a whole unit; parents, staff and students.