The Relationship Between Elementary School Climate and Student Achievement in a School Division in The Commonwealth of Virginia
Phillips, Joey Heyward
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Studies suggest a relationship exists between school climate and student achievement (Hoy & Woolfolk, 1993; Smith, 2005; Warren, 2007). This study investigated the relationship between school climate and student achievement in elementary schools located in a school division in Virginia. School climate is defined operationally as the perceptions of stakeholders, students, parents and educators in regard to instructional programming, interpersonal relationships, communication/collaboration, safety/discipline, and physical environment. The factors that shape school climate and the perceptions of students, parents, and educators in regard to school climate were also investigated. The population for this study was 55 elementary schools in the selected school division. The study used hierarchical clustering to cluster the schools into four clusters. The clusters were analyzed to determine if a relationship existed between school climate and student achievement. Regression analysis was completed on school climate and student achievement data from each school. The purpose of this analysis was to investigate the relationship between the factors of school climate and student achievement. Of additional interest was the relationship between student achievement and the perspective of stakeholders in regard to school climate. This study used data from the 2007-2008 fifth grade Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests in reading and math to measure student achievement. Data collected from the school division's 2008 Annual School Climate Survey was used to measured school climate In the content areas of reading and math lower pass percentages on the Virginia SOL tests related to lower agree percentages in response to the School Climate Survey. Conversely, in the content areas of reading and math higher pass percentages on the Virginia SOL tests related to higher agree percentages in response to the School Climate Survey. Based on these findings schools that have a negative school climate as perceived by its stakeholders can expect to have lower student achievement scores, whereas, schools with a positive school climate as perceived by its stakeholders can expect to have higher student achievement scores. The analysis of data representative of school climate and student achievement found a relationship exists between school climate and student achievement.
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