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Using Data to Foster School Climate Improvement by Regional Educational Laboratory West

Tue, April 12, 8:15 to 9:45am, Convention Center, Floor: Level One, Room 101

Abstract

Purpose
The poster will describe two tools used by REL West’s School Climate Alliance to integrate data for school climate improvement planning—Student Listening Circles (SLC) and School Climate Data Use Workshops (SCDUW). The purpose of the SLC is to integrate student voice into the interpretation of school climate data and into school climate improvement practices. The purpose of the SCDUW is to teach schools how to interpret data, create goals, and disseminate school climate data.

Theoretical Framework
Many students attend schools with poor school climates, which can hinder the academic performance of students. The School Climate Alliance is a networked improvement community composed of district- and school-level core teams working together on school climates issues. The alliance is engaged in a cycle of continuous improvement in which schools collect data, use data to identify needs, select appropriate practices that address needs, and assess the effectiveness of these efforts. The SLC and SCDUW are two critical data tools used to guide continuous improvement.

Methods
An SLC is a facilitated focus group in which students share with adults their experiences and ideas on an important school topic, then collaborate with adults in planning and implementing actions targeting school improvement. The process assists schools in interpreting their existing data and introduces students’ ideas to inform improvement strategies. The SLC culminates with a dialogue whereby participants work together to identify action items for school climate improvement.
The SCDUW is an interactive training allowing for opportunities of discovery and dialogue around school climate data. School climate teams (administrators, staff, parents, and students) follow a process for reviewing existing school-specific data using group-level activities. Participants are guided through a conversation about current school efforts to address the most salient issues and the types of data needed to better understand areas of greatest concern. The end goal of SCDUW is to develop school climate SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely—goals as next steps for improvement.

Data Sources
Data used for the workshops include survey results, suspension data, attendance, school accountability reports, SLC student voice data, and office discipline referral data.

Results
The SCDUW and SLCs helped improve climate in two immediate ways. One component of school climate is positive relationships among stakeholders. Bringing stakeholders together to discuss issues facing the school helps build these relationships. Both tools culminate in a series of either SMART goals or actionable tasks—important first steps for sustainable school climate improvement.

Participating schools have already replicated components for the SCDUW in staff meetings to sensitize a wider audience to the importance of climate and build support for identified goals. Additionally, schools that hosted SLCs have addressed actionable items from their SLCs and have integrated them into larger school improvement efforts.

Scholarly Significance
The alliance activities described are highly relevant to improvement science. They provide concrete examples of how districts and schools can engage in cycles of continuous improvement to collect data, use the data to identify needs, select and implement appropriate practices, and assess their effectiveness.

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