Looking for more information?
Download your city’s full Parent Action Guide below
What is School Environment?
School environment, also known as school climate, refers to the look and feel of a school. How students feel at school can influence how successful they are. A school’s environment is often affected by its values, rules, safety, and discipline policies.
School environment is important because it sets the tone for student learning. A positive, supportive environment can help students feel safe and make better grades. Elements of school environment include:
• Relationships between students and teachers
• School staff and front office behavior
• School safety and levels of security
• Bullying prevention practices on the school campus
• General look and feel of the school
How Do I Assess a School’s Environment?
The best way to learn about the environment is by visiting the campus. As a parent, you have the right to visit your child’s school, meet with teachers and administrators, and ask questions about the school environment. You can call the school or request an in-person tour to learn more about the school your child attends or may attend in the future.
What to look for:
When determining the quality of a school’s environment, look for the following positive characteristics:
- Friendly and encouraging office staff (school secretary, office manager, etc.) who display supportive behaviors with students, staff, and parents.
- Teachers helping and speaking positively with students in the hallways and classrooms.
- Teachers keeping the students engaged in their lessons and thinking critically.
- Parents are encouraged to visit the school, participate in different activities, and ask questions.
- Students are friendly with one another.
The school has a hopeful and supportive environment, such as posters on the walls encouraging students to “reach for the stars,” etc.
- Safety measures in place throughout the school, such as automatic locks or gated entrances to the front office during the school day.
- Safe and clear resources for students with emotional, mental, and physical disabilities, such as unobstructed ramps for wheelchair access.
In addition to looking for the positive indicators mentioned earlier, here are some questions you can ask to learn more about a school’s climate.
- How does the school provide information to parents about their child’s behavior?
- How do office staff or teachers communicate positive feedback to the students?
- If a parent contacts the school, how long does it usually take to get a response?
- How does the school prevent and respond to bullying?
- Are there any official rules that require the school to notify parents when bullying happens in their child’s classroom?
- What rules are in place to keep drugs from being shared on school grounds
- How does the school support students’ social and emotional growth?
- What resources and trainings does the school have to help teachers and staff support students’ social and emotional growth?
- How does the school encourage parents to talk with teachers and school staff if their child is having a problem?
- How does the school support emotional and physical growth for students with special needs?
- Does the front office staff, principal, or teachers speak the same language as me?