Starting in 2012-13, the School Safety Audit for 2012-13 will include a Secondary School Climate Survey for students and teachers. This survey will be administered in alternating years in grades 7 and 8 (starting spring 2013) and then grades 9,10, 11, and 12 the next year (starting spring 2014). The survey is a new component of the annual school safety audit which school divisions are required to submit to the Virginia Center for School Safety (VCSS), according to 22.1-279.8.B of the Code.
The purpose of the survey is to provide schools with information on school climate and safety conditions in order to maintain a safe and orderly school environment conducive to learning. The survey will measure student and teacher perceptions of school rules and discipline, teacher-student relationships, student engagement in school, and the extent of bullying and teasing at school.
Who will participate in the survey?
The survey will be administered to students and teachers in grades 7 and 8 in all Virginia public schools on an alternative year basis starting in March/April of 2013. The survey will be administered to students and teachers in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 on an alternating year basis starting in March/April of 2014. All teachers will be asked to complete the survey. Schools may choose from two options for surveying students: (1) Survey all students; or (2) Survey a random sample of 25 students in each grade.
How will the survey be administered?
The survey will be administered online in schools, supervised by school personnel. The survey will be anonymous, which means that students and teachers will not identify themselves. Detailed instructions for the survey are available here.
How will the survey results be used?
Data from the School Safety Survey program is combined with the Department of Education’s Discipline, Crime, and Violence database in order to identify patterns of structure and support that are associated with lower rates of discipline problems, suspensions, and expulsions, as well as more positive student and teacher perceptions of the school climate. Because school safety is affected by community as well as school climate factors, the study takes into account differences in community poverty and crime for each school division. All schools will receive reports of survey results for their school so that they can identify their strengths as well as areas for improvement. There will also be subsequent reports of statewide research findings showing how student discipline and support practices are associated with positive educational outcomes, including safer school conditions, fewer disciplinary consequences, greater student engagement, and higher academic achievement.
Who conducts this survey?
The survey is conducted by the Virginia Center for School Safety in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education and the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Youth Nex, the Center to Promote Positive Youth Development. Survey data will be analyzed and reported by the University of Virginia, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
What can we learn from school climate surveys?
School climate surveys can provide schools with valuable information to assess student and teacher perceptions of school conditions. This information can be used to improve school discipline and student support practices in order to maintain a safe and orderly school environment conducive to learning. The University of Virginia has conducted a series of studies using school climate surveys in Virginia schools. A brief summary of this research is here.