School Culture/Climate


All organizations have a “culture” which is built over time, incorporating beliefs and values of the organization. Culture can be found in any organizational structure – businesses, corporations and in schools. Climate is something that changes more frequently and may be how one feels when they walk into an organization or a school.

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) defines school culture and school climate in the following way:

The sum of the values, cultures, safety practices, and organizational structures within a school that cause it to function and react in particular ways. Some schools are said to have a nurturing environment that recognizes children and treats them as individuals; others may have the feel of authoritarian structures where rules are strictly enforced and hierarchical control is strong. Teaching practices, diversity, and the relationships among administrators, teachers, parents, and students contribute to school climate. Although the two terms are somewhat interchangeable, school climate refers mostly to the school’s effects on students, whereas school culture refers more to the way teachers and other staff members work together. (Adapted from ASCD’s A Lexicon of Learning)


As stated by the National School Climate Center: Research proves that a positive school climate directly impacts telling indicators of success such as increased teacher retention, lower dropout rates, decreased incidences of violence, and higher student achievement. To view more correlations between a positive or negative school climate and school success, click here to visit the National School Climate Center’s website. 

A recent Child Trends article from September 2014 takes a closer look at the benefits of positive school climate for students, families and school staff. Click here to read this article.