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Student Experiences of School Climate in the Iowa City Community School District 2018

This report details the key findings from the third annual Student Experiences of School Climate survey administered to 5th-12th grade student in the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD). The survey and report are the product of a research-practice partnership between the ICCSD and the Public Policy Center at the University of Iowa (for more on the partnership, see “About the Partnership”).  

Importance of School Climate 
The collection of student experiences provides insight about the characteristics of the school climate from the student perspective. School climate includes the relationships between students, teachers, and staff; perceptions of safety and the disciplinary environment; norms, values, and expectations; and the instructional practices and material. Students thrive when they have positive school experiences and attend schools with inclusive and supportive school climates.  

Patterned Disparities in Experiences 
How students experience school varies, and school climate surveys across the nation and in this District show consistent gaps (or disparities) between groups of students. The results from this year’s survey continue to show patterned disparities across many measures with students of color, gender and sexual minorities, and low socioeconomic status reporting fewer positive and more negative experiences in school.

Trends Over Time 
Several aspects of school climate declined or got worse from 2017 to 2018 including: student-teacher relationships, classroom membership, sharing diverse viewpoints, safety, responsiveness, disciplinary transparency, and hearing hurtful comments from teachers and students. 

Many aspects of school climate increased or improved from 2017 to 2018 including: the presence of mentors and teacher mentors, inclusive discussions, disciplinary equity, and diversity and inclusive values.  

Key Takeaways 
The results of this survey can be used to inform district-level policies and priorities, building-level school improvement plans, and individual educator practices aimed at reducing inequities in student experiences and outcomes. The results can also be used to inform goal setting and the identification of areas of strength and areas of opportunity for growth. And, just as importantly, the results can be used to assess progress in meeting these goals.

Bruch, S., Heeren, T., Shin, S., Shi, Q., Meza, L., Maller, R. M., Heiberg, K., & Goetzmann, P. Student Experiences of School Climate in the Iowa City Community School District 2018. : University of Iowa Public Policy Center.