The Assessment of School Climate (ASC) is a statistically reliable research process designed to examine the climate of a school/district or educational organization and identify areas both supporting and interfering with academic and emotional growth. The school climate influences critical behaviors such as communication, problem solving, and accountability – factors that affect students/parents/employees and the the school’s success..
ASC is a rapid and effective way to “take the pulse” of the school community and measure connectedness.
In addition to climate, the ASC measures three key outcomes: Loyalty, Perceived Learning, and Perceived Safety. Combining these into a “school success” scale, scores on the ASC predict 62.36% of the variation in the school’s success scores. The climate predicts a substantial portion of each outcome:
- 47.92% of Loyalty
- 55.25% of Learning
- 37.30% of Safety
Thus improving the climate is likely to significantly improve these outcomes.
The survey addresses four aspects of the school climate:
Empathy: How accurately do people listen to one another? Can people perceive the pain/joy others are experiencing? If so, is either an appropriate verbal or action response given to demonstrate empathetic understanding? How well do people pay attention to the message delivered through body language?
Accountability: To what extent do people in the organization see themselves and others following through on commitments? Are they motivated and do they take responsibility? Do they consider the consequences of the decisions made? Do they recognize their ability to influence and/or control? Do they accept ownership for actions/decisions in which they participated? Do they demonstrate endurance? Can they be cheerleaders for themselves?
Respect: Do people appreciate the value of each individual? Do people acknowledge the contributions of individuals? Do people esteem differences? Do people solicit others’ opinions/expertise? Is respect observed at all levels? Are personal/professional boundaries recognized/respected?
Trust: Do people have a sense of faith and belief in the organization and its leaders? Do individuals squander time watching their backs – instead of doing their best? Do people have assurance that others will follow through on agreements? Are people willing to delegate various responsibilities? Is there demonstrable integrity? Are there specific principles created/followed by all? (The Trust factor is composed of questions selected from the other three areas.)
The ASC can effectively be used to…
- gain insight on what may be causing behavioral issues or challenges
- assess the effectiveness of social emotional learning, character, and positive behavior programs
- capture data for self-study and accreditation
- build consensus among parents, teachers, administrators, and youth about key issues to address
- create buy-in for change
- prepare for re-examination of mission/goals/objectives/plans
- provide evidence of success
The survey quickly provides a snapshot of perceptions, presented in a series of graphs such as the one below. In the ASC report a narrative description explains each graph and provides considerations for action.
Depending on whether the survey is on an individual school, a school with multiple levels, or even a whole district, a variety of different divisions/subdivisions can be examined. Subgroups can be created — such as comparisons of student, parent, teacher, and admin perceptions. In addition, subgroups such as departments, geographic locations, and/or administrative or support levels can be compared to identify areas of agreement or disagreement. Comparisons can be made of students in a special program (such as a support or intervention). Additional reports on specific groups help target development and management efforts to move away from “one size fits all” intervention. Here is an example showing ASC results by grade level, indicating a serious potential issue for one group of students:
Critical questions are identified to pinpoint specific strengths and concerns. Further comparisons can be made, for example, in this case examining critical questions from the perspective of different groups:
There are 23 items on the assessment, such as:
- Accountability: “If a student misbehaves, a teacher takes action,” and “People here follow the rules about behavior.”
- Empathy: “Teachers here care about me,” and, “People feel important to the school.”
- Respect: “People here say one thing but do another,” and, “People here don’t gossip much.”
Additional questions can instantly be added to the survey to check the effects of the school’s ongoing initiatives or to measure a specific area of concern (e.g., how people feel about the math program). The measure is designed for frequent use to keep a “finger on the pulse” of the organization. The ASC is rapid, low-cost, and effective. It can also be used as a supplement to state testing requirements. The customization process provides an important opportunity to engage stakeholders.
In addition, during customization, different sub-groups can be defined to make comparisons by level, grade, division, role, etc.
ASC was developed by Six Seconds’ team of emotional intelligence (EQ) experts led by Anabel Jensen, Ph.D. and Joshua Freedman. Drawing on the authors’ extensive backgrounds in EQ, the tool examines areas where emotionally intelligent and emotionally unintelligent behavior is most likely to affect performance and school culture.