Get a feel for your school’s learning environment
This school climate survey template asks parents to share their thoughts on many of the issues that affect a school’s climate.
Our school climate survey template was created by the Harvard Graduate School of Education to help you gauge the overall attitudes that govern your school’s atmosphere. Whether you want to get a better understanding of how much your school values diversity or how motivating classroom lessons are, you can use this survey to find out where you need to make improvements.
School climate reflects how members of a school community—from students and parents to educators and school personnel—experience that school. This includes interpersonal relationships, values, goals, student engagement, teaching practices, and other traits and policies that contribute to the quality of the environment.
School climate can play a critical role in the student experience. As the U.S. Department of Education notes, research shows that when schools and districts prioritize school climate improvement, students are more likely to be engaged, develop positive relationships with each other and adults, demonstrate positive behavior, and perform better academically. All of that adds up to a higher chance that students will succeed both within and outside of the classroom.
Positive school climates provide the right environment, resources, and relationships for children to thrive—and school climate data will show exactly how safe, supported, and accepted they feel.
In addition to allowing school staff and educators to interpret the atmosphere at their school, school climate data is also helpful for identifying benchmarks and developing an ongoing school climate improvement plan that’s specific to the needs of the school. Because in order to strengthen school climate, schools have to be able to measure it.
For example, a school or district might make critical decisions around improving belonging and inclusion, a key component of school climate, based on patterns uncovered in school climate data. Down the line, new data can help determine the effectiveness of interventions, how much progress was made, and where school personnel should focus additional resources.
By using school climate data to track and measure school life, sense of belonging, and interpersonal relationships, school leaders can get a more nuanced view of the lived experiences of the school community. From elementary school to middle and high school, students learn best in supportive learning environments. This kind of school climate data will shed light on child behavior, student achievement gaps, and, for high school students especially, attendance and graduation rates.
School climate data can also benefit school staff. The data will provide another perspective into teacher satisfaction and may even reveal opportunities to gather educators’ feedback on school climate and decrease teacher and staff turnover.
Finally, school climate data can help school leaders initiate conversation and collaboration with the school community. With objective data in hand, they can engage students, parents, educators, and staff members and involve them in school climate improvement plans. By connecting with stakeholders and community partners and being transparent about survey responses, you’ll pave the way for better investment in any plans to remodel school policies, programs, or values.
No matter their grade level, students can’t learn effectively if they feel unsafe and unsupported. In fact, a safe learning environment is essential for a positive school climate—and vice versa. When it comes to school life, safety can encompass a lot of things, including physical safety, emotional safety, bullying or cyberbullying, school health and safety policies, and emergency preparedness. In the process of school climate improvement, schools can use surveys to assess and respond to any of these issues.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), research shows “bullying can be significantly reduced through comprehensive school-wide programs designed to change group norms and improve school climate.” Among other things, the APA recommends individual intervention for students at heightened risk and intensive, sustained training for students, educators, school staff and community members. A student survey, particularly a Bullying Survey, is a great way to put these recommendations into practice. With direct feedback from student and parent respondents, school leaders can pinpoint how and when to address bullying and even identify warning signs and stop bullying behavior before it happens.
Measuring student engagement is another opportunity to nurture a safe learning environment and get actionable feedback from respondents. This can be especially effective if the survey is tied to the particular issues or needs of the school community. For example, many educators and school leaders have used surveys to help students adapt to distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Others have recognized that diversity, equity, and inclusion are more important than ever and used student and parent surveys to understand school community demographics. With the survey data that’s collected, they’re able to take better, more effective steps to ensure that students feel safe, engaged, and respected.
Using the school climate survey template, schools can ask parents to share their perspective on issues that affect school climate. Here are some examples of the school climate data you can expect to see:
You can also create a parent survey to assess the overall ability of your school to foster learning and meet students’ needs. Customize this school climate survey template and add questions to make this survey specific to your school.