Measuring school climate in high schools

A focus on safety, engagement, and the environment

Catherine P. Bradshaw, Tracy E. Waasdorp, Katrina J. Debnam, Sarah Lindstrom Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: School climate has been linked to multiple student behavioral, academic, health, and social-emotional outcomes. The US Department of Education (USDOE) developed a 3-factor model of school climate comprised of safety, engagement, and environment. This article examines the factor structure and measurement invariance of the USDOE model. METHODS: Drawing upon 2 consecutive waves of data from over 25,000 high school students (46% minority), a series of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses examined the fit of the Maryland Safe and Supportive Schools Climate Survey with the USDOE model. RESULTS: The results indicated adequate model fit with the theorized 3-factor model of school climate, which included 13 subdomains: safety (perceived safety, bullying and aggression, and drug use); engagement (connection to teachers, student connectedness, academic engagement, school connectedness, equity, and parent engagement); environment (rules and consequences, physical comfort, and support, disorder). We also found consistent measurement invariance with regard to student sex, grade level, and ethnicity. School-level interclass correlation coefficients ranged from 0.04 to .10 for the scales. CONCLUSIONS: Findings supported the USDOE 3-factor model of school climate and suggest measurement invariance and high internal consistency of the 3 scales and 13 subdomains. These results suggest the 56-item measure may be a potentially efficient, yet comprehensive measure of school climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-604
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of School Health
Volume84
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

school climate
Climate
Safety
school
Students
Education
education
student
aggression
student teacher
drug use
High School
Bullying
parents
equity
exclusion
ethnicity
school grade
minority
Aggression

Keywords

  • Engagement
  • Environment
  • Measurement
  • Safety
  • School climate
  • School improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Philosophy
  • Education
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Measuring school climate in high schools : A focus on safety, engagement, and the environment. / Bradshaw, Catherine P.; Waasdorp, Tracy E.; Debnam, Katrina J.; Lindstrom Johnson, Sarah.

In: Journal of School Health, Vol. 84, No. 9, 2014, p. 593-604.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bradshaw, Catherine P. ; Waasdorp, Tracy E. ; Debnam, Katrina J. ; Lindstrom Johnson, Sarah. / Measuring school climate in high schools : A focus on safety, engagement, and the environment. In: Journal of School Health. 2014 ; Vol. 84, No. 9. pp. 593-604.
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