US Education Policy

Creating Conditions for Student Success: A Policymakers’ School Climate Playbook

January 26, 2021  • Education and Society Program

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The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program and ExcelinEd have partnered to develop Creating Conditions for Student Success: A Policymakers’ School Climate Playbook. The report contains real-world, proven school climate strategies along with a clear set of recommendations to guide policymakers in building a comprehensive and coherent state-wide approach for improving school climate.

In addition to the report, the following resources identify funding opportunities, policy considerations, and tools for state policymakers to communicate the value of school climate work:

Federal Relief Funding to Build Healthy School Climates: Outlines opportunities and examples for state, district and school leaders to use Education Stabilization Funds to help schools innovate and improve the learning environment. is an at-a-glance reference for principals and leadership teams to quickly identify high-priority actions for both virtual and in-person settings.

State Education Policy Checklist on School Climate: Questions and considerations to help guide the development of state education policy related to school climate.

School Climate Infographic: Visual graphic describing what school climate is, why it matters for students and educators, and how state policymakers can improve education systems to ensure schools are safe, supportive, and create a sense of belonging for all students.

School Climate Letter of Support: A letter of support from organizations across the country who support the role of state policymakers in promoting a healthy school climate. This group of organizations encourages state leaders to prioritize a healthy school climate in state education improvement priorities, pandemic recovery, and efforts to advance social mobility and racial justice. To add your organization’s logo to this letter contact the Aspen Education team at [email protected].


As schools and communities seek to reinvent and recover in the midst of an active intersecting medical, economic, and racial crises, the time is ripe for state-level leaders to take an active role in helping schools create a positive learning environment for all students and teachers, both in-person and virtually. These tools support policymakers to ensure state-wide systems enable and empower supportive, safe and student-centered schools.

The School Climate Policy Playbook was released during a national event on January 27, 2021. Click here to view the recording.

We’d like to thank the following contributors who helped us develop this resource:

Dakarai Aarons, Brigid Ahern, Jen Alexander, Elisha Arillaga, Carmen Ayala, Jim Balfanz, Jillian Balow, Brad Bernatek, Megan Blanco, Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Tequilla Brownie, Steve Canavero, Hedy Chang, Monique Chism, Jonathan Cohen, LeAnne Cornyn, Michael Davis, Jason Dean, Paolo Demaria, Jen DiPaoli, Pauline Dow, Nancy Duchesneau, Rachelle Engler, Dale Erquiaga, Rachel Etienne, Jonathan Feinstein, Michael Gilligan, Jason Glass, Lizzette    Gonzalez-Reynolds, Angelica Green, Khalilah Harris, Beth Herman, Angélica Infante-Green, Ashley Jeffrey, Phyliss Jordan, Taylor Kahn-Perry, Sara Krachman, Patricia Levesque, David Mansouri, Landon Mascarenaz, Tiffany Miller, Rick Miller, Hope Morales, Sara Morrison, Nyasha Musoni, Karen Nussle, David Osher, Shileste Overton-Morris, Heather Peske, Karen Pittman, Robert Pondiscio, Darren Reisberg, Matt Robinson, Hal Smith, Audrey Soglin, Robin Steans, Christina Theokas, Tom Toch, Kira Tookes, Joseph Trawick-Smith, Pragya Upreti, Pragya Upreti, Terra Wallin, Cara Wiley, Nicole Williams Beechum, Sandy Williamson, Cicely Woodard, Carey Wright.