US Education Policy

Coming Back to Climate: How Principals Can Use School Climate Data To Lead Improvement

August 10, 2020  • Education and Society Program

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In partnership with school districts and research partners, The Aspen Education & Society program offers a new repertoire of tools for principals to improve school climate. This toolkit provides practical guidance for school leaders to use climate data to draw in stakeholders to the work of continuous improvement and building equitable outcomes for students.

High performing students learn and thrive in environments that integrate care, responsiveness, and challenge. The added stressors of physical distancing due to COVID-19 and striving against institutionalized racism make it imperative to increase for support students and families. Climate data are a window into their experiences, and savvy leaders use the data to cultivate care and belonging for students as conditions for academic achievement.

As school leaders reopen schools this fall—in person and virtually—Coming Back to Climate: How Principals Can Use School Climate Data To Lead Improvement, identifies themes among accessible, actionable strategies for school leaders to start the year with a welcoming, responsive, achievement-oriented atmosphere.

  • Climate data can be used to advance equity. Principals can invite students to co-construct the climate of the school.
  • Climate data can be used for school planning and school improvement. By prioritizing data that indicate a sense of care, connection, and support, principals foster the essential conditions for learning.
  • The principal is the lynchpin for all of this, taking district strategies from “scale” to context, creating an inclusive community, setting the priorities that staff and students experience.

School leaders advance school improvement by understanding how students, parents, and staff are experiencing school, enhancing learning, and building connectedness. Never has it been more critical to create a school climate supporting relationships, wellness, and equitable outcomes for every student.