Division Summaries


The Center is structured to function as a national clearinghouse with professional development and research components focused on the improvement of school climate. The purpose of the Center's research is to identify and develop effective educational leadership practices that improve climates in which student's learn. This work will be grounded in the American School Climate Survey™ (ASC) research and the Perkins Model for Educational Ecology. (Appendix B) The Center will have five primary divisions: 1) National Survey Unit, 2) Ethnographic Unit, 3) Technical Assistance Unit, 4) Dissemination Unit and 5) Publications Unit. The following sections summarize the function of each division:

National Survey Unit

The National Survey Unit will conduct applied research to provide school district leadership with data to make decisions regarding the improvement of their respective school climates. The research agenda will include studies of the relationship between student, administrator and teacher perceptions of school climate and student academic achievement, school performance indicators and student academic, and a comparison between public charter school and regular public school climates. This research agenda is expected to provide the foundational understanding for the importance of school climate and its relationship to educational outcomes. Preliminary studies suggest a strong relationship between perceptions of school climate and academic achievement. .

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Ethnography Unit

The Ethnography Unit will conduct a three-year cyclical research program. After three years of data has been collected and analyzed from the national longitudinal ASC study, center faculty will conduct interviews, focus groups and observations to gain insight on the perceptions held. While responses to statements give some information, such as feeling safe in school, not being targeted by bullies, and being comfortable with one's own race, others warrant a closer analysis that will provide information on the multiple factors that influence school climate. These other possible factors include, but are not limited to, the degree to which students witness others being bullied, why students aged 14 and older don't have much confidence that teachers can stop bullying, why students in the secondary grades have an elevated sense of distrust towards their teachers and why some races more than others perceive that other races do better in school than they do. 

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Publications Unit

The publications unit will focus on the production and distribution of study results via print and video media. Primarily, this unit will focus on providing materials for a commercial market. These materials produced will be reflective of the ethnographic research results and will assist school administrators and school district level leaders implement successful strategies to improve school climate. Three major initiatives will guide the work of this unit: 1) Improving School Climate Manuscript, 2) Improving School Climate Video Series and 3) Practitioner-based research articles. 

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Dissemination Unit

The Dissemination Unit will serve as the direct compliment to the publications unit with the responsibility of generating primarily non-written presentations of research and implementation findings. Presentations, keynote addresses and workshops at research and practitioner conferences will be major communication outlets for the Center's agenda. Some presentations by special invitation may be commissioned by various educational entities such as publishing houses, universities and advocacy groups.

Additionally, this unit will collaborate with nationally prominent university faculty to organize a standing conference focused exclusively on the subject of school climate. This conference, The National Conference on School Climate, will include presentations from research professionals, administrators and school district level leaders, state and federal education agency officials, and advocacy groups. Finally, this unit will coordinate an annual press conference to release findings and activities of the Center.

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Technical Assistance Unit

The Technical Assistance unit is designed as a fee-for-service component to contract with district leadership. The technical assistance unit helps schools and districts focus on what the current perceptions are about their educational climate and what they do to create that climate, recognize their best efforts to support and or create a positive climate, create effective change where needed, and sustain those efforts over the long term. The unit's goal is to make a difference for district and school leaders, practitioners, and stakeholders by working to grow and sustain people, policies, plans, and climates. This unit will have the bulk of interaction with district and school-level administration. 

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