main resources/AERA services research assessment contact us

School Climate Quality Analytic Assessment Instrument
and School-based Evaluation/Leadership Team Assessment Protocol

We would like to thank you for agreeing to take part in this examination of the pilot version of the WASSC assessment protocol and analytic-trait instrument. We hope that your involvement provides an opportunity for you to meaningfully explore the climate at your school and generate some ideas for possible directions for future school improvement efforts. For the purposes of this research, we ask that you adhere to the following guidelines as you take part in this effort.

Use of the Scale:
The WAASC assessment rubric includes subcategories for each of the following 8 school climate areas:
The enclosed analytic-trait instrument is intended for use by selected individuals (working individually and as a team) who have agreed to use it for the purpose of a confidential self-assessment of their school. Team members should use this assessment exercise to form impartial judgments related to the quality of their school's climate with the intention of gaining awareness and initiating future collective action. This scale should never be used to assign blame to other faculty, put down kids, indict leadership, or promote the perception that certain "individuals" are the problem. Solutions in the area of school climate improvement most often come as a result of the raising of the faculties' collective awareness related to their systemic patterns and choices that effect life in their school. This exercise should help the learning community address and collectively act on those areas of concern in an effort to promote collective accomplishment.

Assessment Protocol:
As a team, examine each of the items in each of the 8 sub-scales, then, to the best of your knowledge, rate the current level at your school 1, 2 or 3. Please mark your rating for each item on the form that you return to the WASSC team member. After completing your ratings for each item, average the ratings to produce a sub-category mean score. It may be helpful to discuss each area before making an assessment judgment. This discussion may also be useful later as you begin to develop your plan of action. Teams can make assessment judgments at any of three levels. First, judgments can be made at the individual item or characteristic level. Second, each of the 8 sub-scales could be scored as a unit. Third, using the rubric holistically, the entire school could be judged at one of the three performance levels. Doing some degree of assessment at each level of judgment is recommended. Depending on your reporting audience you might want to share your findings with more or less specificity. Remember, this rubric is not intended to provide a quantifiable rating for purposes of comparison. It is simply an instrument intended to furnish an assessment team with an overall qualitative sense of their current school climate, as well as the specific aspects of that climate in their varying levels of development.

Your feedback related to your assessment of the efficacy of the assessment scale
We encourage you to note items that are confusing, problematic or that you feel are not valid for some reason. We invite as much written or verbal feedback as you are able to provide, including ideas for future items.

A final caution
If you take this task seriously, your work could be of profound value in your school's efforts toward improvement. But make no mistake. You are entering a very sensitive and intimate realm — your school's heart and mind. It is more than likely that if your efforts result in what is perceived by others as personal accusations, careless bashing, and or political gamesmanship, your efforts could do more harm than good.

The following WASSC Climate Survery is Copyrighted © 2004. Permission from WASSC to reproduce
this survey is required.

Directions: Please mark the circle below the item that best describes the current state at your school in general. For each of the three performance levels there are three sub-levels (high, middle and low). Optional: When you have completed your ratings, average your score at the base of each subscale.

1. Physical Appearance
Level - 3 Level - 2 Level - 1
High Middle Low High Middle Low High Middle Low
Welcoming to outsiders, the school projects an identity to visitors. Some signage for visitors as they enter the building, but images compete for attention. Little concern for the image of the school.
Purposeful use of school colors/symbols Some use of school colors/symbols but mostly associated with sports. Students associate school colors with losers.
Staff and students take ownership of physical appearance. Staff regularly comments on school appearance, but students do not feel any sense of personal ownership. "That is the janitor's job"
No litter Litter cleaned at the end of day People have given up the battle over litter
Current student work is displayed to show pride and ownership by students. Few and/or only top performances are displayed Decades old trophies and athletic records in dusty cases
Things work and/or get fixed immediately Things get fixed when someone complains enough Things might get fixed when the work order goes through the district office.
Staff and students have respect for custodians Most staff are cordial with custodians Custodians are demeaned
Graffiti is rare because students feel some sense of ownership of the school. Graffiti occurs occasionally, but is dealt with by the staff. Graffiti occurs frequently and projects the hostility of students toward their school.

^ back to top

2. Faculty Relations
Level - 3 Level - 2 Level - 1
High Middle Low High Middle Low High Middle Low
Faculty commonly collaborate on matters of teaching Faculty are congenial to one another, and occasionally collaborate Faculty see other faculty as the competition.
Faculty approach problems as a team/collective Faculty attend to problems as they relate to their own interests. Faculty expect someone else to solve problems.
Faculty use their planning time constructively and refrain from denigrating students in teacher areas Faculty use time efficiently but feel the need to consistently vent displaced aggression toward students. Faculty look forward to time away from students so they can share their "real feelings" about them.
Faculty are typically constructive when speaking of each other and/or administrators. Faculty wait for safe opportunities to share complaints about other teachers and/or admin. Faculty commonly use unflattering names for other faculty and/or administration in private.
Staff feels a collective sense of dissatisfaction with status quo, and find ways to take action to improve. Faculty give sincere "lip service" to the idea of making things better. Faculty are content with the status quo and often resentful toward change minded staff.
High level of respect for one another. Respect for a few prominent staff members. Show little respect for self or others.
Faculty meeting are attended by most all and address relevant content. Faculty meetings are an obligation that most attend, but are usually seen as a formality. Faculty meetings are seen as a waste of time and avoided when possible.
Staff and all-school events are well attended by faculty There are the few regular attendees at school events. Staff do absolutely the minimum investment in school related matters
Leadership roles are most likely performed by faculty with other faculty expressing their appreciation. Leadership roles are accepted grudgingly by faculty, and other faculty are often suspicious of motives Leadership is avoided, and those who do take leadership roles are seen as traitors.
Faculty have the time and interest to commune with one another, and feel very little isolation. Faculty congregate in small cordial groups, yet commonly feel a sense that teaching is an isolating profession. Faculty typically see no need to relate outside the walls of their class.

^ back to top

3. Student Interactions
Level - 3 Level - 2 Level - 1
High Middle Low High Middle Low High Middle Low
Students feel a sense of community and "school" is defined by the warm regard for the inhabitants of the building Students feel like they have friends and are safe, but the school is just a place to take classes. Students feel no sense of affiliation with the school or community
Various cultures and sub-groups blend, interrelate and feel like valid members of the community Various sub-groups avoid each other and have varying degrees of sense of validity Various sub-groups are hostile to one another
Students readily accept the purpose of zero tolerance for "put downs." Students think put downs are just part of their language Put downs lead to violence
Many students attend school events A few regulars attend school events It is un-cool to attend school events
Popular students feel a an obligation to serve the school, not a sense of entitlement Popular kids treat the other popular kids well. Popular kids use their political capital to oppress those less popular.
Most students feel safe from violence. Most students don't assume much severe violence but accept minor acts of harassment almost daily Most students do not feel safe from violent acts large or small.
Leaders are easy to find due to the wide range of gifts that are validated and harnessed Leaders come from a small clique of students Students avoid leadership for fear of being labeled as "goody goodies"
Athletes are valued as quality community members and approach their role with a humble sense of honor. It is assumed that some athletes are just "jerks" and jocks are not "real students" Athletes band together to oppress the weaker and more academically gifted element in the school
Most students expect to be given ownership over decisions that effect them Most students are upset when rights are withdrawn, but typically take little action Most students assume that they have no rights
Most students expect to engage in "authentic learning" activities and to be taught with methods that make them responsible for their own learning. Most students adjust their expectations to each teacher and focus mainly on doing what it takes to get "the grade." Most students' expectation of school is that little of value is learned in there and real world learning happens somewhere else.

^ back to top

4. Leadership/Decisions
Level - 3 Level - 2 Level - 1
High Middle Low High Middle Low High Middle Low
School has a sense of vision, and a mission that is shared by all staff. School has a set of policies, a written mission, but no cohesive vision School has policies that are used inconsistently
Vision comes from the collective will of the school community Vision comes from leadership. Vision is absent.
School's decisions are conspicuously grounded in the mission. Policies and mission exist but are not meaningful toward staff action Mission may exist but is essentially ignored.
Vast majority of staff members feel valued and listened to. Selected staff members feel occasionally recognized Administration is seen as playing favorites.
A sense of "shared values" is purposefully cultivated Most share a common value to do what's best for their students. Guiding school values are in constant conflict.
Staff understands and uses a clear system for selecting priority needs, and has a highly functioning team for "shared decision-making" There is a SDM committee but most real power is in a "loop" of insiders/decision makers Decisions are made autocratically or accidentally
Most of the staff has a high level of trust and respect in leadership Some staff have respect for leadership Most staff feel at odds with the leadership
Leadership demonstrates a high level of accountability, and finds ways to "make it happen." Leadership is highly political about how resources are allocated and often deflect responsibility. Leadership seems disconnected to outcomes and find countless reasons why they "wish it could happen, but are sorry that it can not."
Leadership is in tune with students and community. Leadership has selected sources of info about the community and students. Leadership is isolated from constituents.
Leadership is in tune with others' experience of the quality of school climate. Leadership makes pro forma statements about wanting good school climate. Leadership does not see school climate as a necessary interest.

^ back to top

5. Discipline environment
Level - 3 Level - 2 Level - 1
High Middle Low High Middle Low High Middle Low
School-wide discipline policy is consistently applied School-wide discipline policy is used by some staff School-wide discipline policy exists in writing only
Individual classroom management plans feature consistency, clear expectations, sensible related consequences and refrain from punishment, shaming and humiliation. Most teachers use some form or positive or assertive discipline but accept the notion that punishment and shaming are necessary with some students. Most teachers accept the notion that the only thing the students in the school understand is punishment and/or personal challenges.
Classrooms are positive places, and teachers maintain a positive affect, and follow-through with consequences in a calm and non-personal manner. Most teachers maintain a positive climate, but some days they just feel the need to complain about the class and/or get fed up with the "bad kids" Classrooms are places where teachers get easily angered by students and there is a sense of antagonism between the class and the teacher
Maximize the use of student generated ideas and input. Occasional use of student generated ideas. Teachers make the rules and student should follow them.
Consider teaching and discipline within the lens of basic student needs that must be met for a functional class. Some sensitivity to student needs, but the primary goal of classroom management is control. All student misconduct is viewed as disobedience.
Teacher-student interactions could be typically described as supportive and respectful. Teacher-student interactions could be typically described as fair but teacher-dominated. Teacher-student interactions are mostly teacher-dominated and reactive.
When disciplining students teachers typically focus on the problematic behavior not the student as a person. When disciplining students teachers are typically assertive yet often reactive, and giving an overall inconsistent message When disciplining students teachers are typically personal and often antagonistic.
Teachers successfully create a sense of community in their classes Teachers successfully create a working society in their classes Teachers create a competitive environment

^ back to top

6. Learning/Assessment
Level - 3 Level - 2 Level - 1
High Middle Low High Middle Low High Middle Low
Assessment targets are clear and attainable for learners. Most high achieving students can find a way to meet the teacher's target. Grades are given for what students see as personal or accidental purposes.
Instruction/Assessment promotes student locus of control, sense of belonging and sense of competence Instruction/Assessment is most often focused on relevant learning, yet mostly rewards the high-achievers. Instruction/Assessment is focused on bits of knowledge that can be explained and then tested
Student-controlled behavior (effort, listening, attitude, etc) is rewarded and even assessed when possible. Student controlled behavior is verbally rewarded. Only countable academic and athletic outcomes are rewarded.
Teachers have some form of making sense of, and being responsive to, varying learning styles Teachers are aware of learning styles as a concept, and make some attempt in that area. Teachers expect all students to conform to their teaching style.
Instruction is dynamic, involving, learner-centered, and challenging. Instruction is mostly based on relevant concepts but often appears to be busy work Instruction is mostly "sit and get"
Students learn to work cooperatively, and as a team Some teachers buy into the idea of cooperative learning Cooperative learning just leads to chaos and cheating
Students are given systematic opportunities to reflect on their learning progress. Mostly higher-level students are given occasional opportunities to reflect on their learning in some classes. Teaching is seen as providing maximum input and little opportunity for reflection exists.
Students are seen as the primary users of assessment information, and assessment is used for the purpose of informing the learning process and is never used to punish or shame. Assessment is seen as something that occurs at the end of assignments. Grades are used primarily for student-student comparison. Assessment is used to compare students to one another and/or to send a message to the lazy students.
School-wide rewards often focus on student effort and contribution and sparingly on being the top performer. School-wide rewards honor a variety of top performance-based achievements. A competitive climate exists for the scarce supply of school-wide rewards given only for performance.

^ back to top

7. Attitude and Culture
Level - 3 Level - 2 Level - 1
High Middle Low High Middle Low High Middle Low
Students feel like they are part of a community. Students feel like they are part of a society. Students feel like they are visitors in a building.
Students self-correct peers who use destructive and/or abusive language. Students seek adult assistance to stop blatant abuse. Students accept abuse as a regular part of their day.
Students feel as though they are working toward collective goals. Students feel as though they are working toward independent goals. Students feel as though they are competing with other students for scarce resources
Students speak about the school in proud, positive terms. Students speak of the school in neutral or mixed terms.Students speak of the school in neutral or mixed terms. Students denigrate the school when they refer to it.
Most students feel listened to, represented, and like they have a voice. Most students see some evidence that some students have a voice. Most students feel they have very little voice when at school.
Most students feel a sense of belonging to something larger. Most students see some evidence that efforts are made to promote school spirit. Most students feel alone, alienated and/or part of a hostile environment.
Students feel as though they owe their school a dept of gratitude upon graduation. Graduates feel like they had an acceptable school experience Students cannot wait to get out of the school.
Students feel welcome and comfortable in talking to adults and/or designated peer counselors. Some students have a few staff that they target for advice. Students assume adults do not have any interest in their problems.
School maintains traditions that promote school pride and a sense of historical continuity. School maintains traditions that some students are aware of but most see as irrelevant to their experience. School has given up on maintaining traditions due to apathy.

^ back to top

8. Community Relations
Level - 3 Level - 2 Level - 1
High Middle Low High Middle Low High Middle Low
School is perceived as welcoming to all parents. School is perceived as welcoming to certain parents. School is suspicious of why parents would want to visit.
School sends out regular communication to community including invitations to attend key events. School sends out pro forma communication that is may be plentiful but is not created with the consumers' needs in mind. School sends out pro forma communication only.
Community members are regularly invited to speak in classes. Inconvenience leads to few community members speaking in classes. The vast majority of community members have not seen the inside of the school since they went there.
Service learning efforts are regular promoting student learning and positive community-relations Service learning is done, but very infrequently due to its inconvenience Service learning is seen as just a glorified field trip and therefore not worth the expense.
Parents and Coaches all work for the best interest of student-athletes. Parents support the coaches and teams if things are going well. Parents feel free to question coaches, coaches mistrust parents.
Volunteer efforts are well coordinated, volunteers are plentiful, and conspicuously appreciated Volunteers are willing, but are often unaware of the events and/or feel a lack of guidance. Volunteers are hard to find or unreliable.
Athletic events and Fine Arts performances are well attended due to deliberate efforts toward promotion and crowd appreciation Athletic events and Arts performances are attended by a die-hard following and/or only when things are going well. Games and performances are poorly attended and as a result progressively less effort is made by participants.

The WASSC Climate Survery is Copyrighted © 2004. Permission from WASSC to reproduce
this survey is required.

^ back to top
© 2004 Western Alliance for the Study of School Climate, Charter College of Education, CSULA