Between teacher turnover, mental health challenges, threats of violence, and increasing politicization, today’s K–12 education system faces a host of challenges that comprise students’ ability to learn and thrive. That’s why fostering a positive school climate has never been more critical. Between 2018 and 2022, leaders from 30 U.S. school districts commissioned Hanover Research to conduct a K–12 school climate survey in hopes of better understanding their stakeholders’ perceptions of their districts’ climate and culture. The resulting data — gathered from more than 150,000 respondents — reveals a wealth of insight into the school climate-related challenges that districts and their stakeholders face.
Lacking a positive school climate, the challenges faced by K–12 schools only grow more complex and deep-rooted, ultimately resulting in higher staff turnover and poorer student outcomes. Times of crisis — such as a pandemic or traumatic school violence — can have a detrimental impact on school climate, with students facing a greater risk of negative emotional responses that can interfere with both their learning and their daily lives. But, by focusing on the social-emotional well-being and mental health of students and staff — all critical elements of a positive school climate — districts can better foster feelings of safety, connection, engagement, and, ultimately, success. A school climate survey is an important tool for building and sustaining an effective school climate and culture.