All students deserve to go to school in a safe and supportive environment. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives New York state the chance to include school climate as an indicator of school quality.
Right now, New York's Board of Regents can use a school climate index to highlight where schools are succeeding, and where they may need more support in fostering positive school climates across the state. That's why 479 teachers signed this letter asking the Board of Regents to support and hold our schools accountable for fostering positive school climates.
Read the letter, and see our press release for more information.
Read the letter to the Board of Regents
Dear Members of the Board of Regents,
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides us with an opportunity to codify a quality education system that will work toward justice for all students. In our ever shifting political climate, it is more important than ever that New York State use ESSA to create schools where students feel socially, emotionally and physically safe, and where there is mutual respect between teachers and students, parents and guardians.
As educators, we urge you to include a School Climate Index as New York’s additional indicator of school quality. Over the past few months, E4E-NY has surveyed more than 900 teachers across New York City and more than half chose measures of school climate to be included in the school accountability formula. We recommend that the School Climate Index include:
- School discipline data: New York should include the discipline data that ESSA requires states to publish in annual report cards to measure school quality. The NY State Education Department should be mindful of precipitous drops in discipline rates, and should provide resources to schools, such as restorative practice training and positive behavior intervention systems.
- Chronic absenteeism: There is a strong relationship between attendance, achievement and graduation rates and this measure is relevant to all grades.
- Community engagement surveys option: Some districts, such as New York City, already use community engagement surveys to gauge school climate. The state should evaluate those surveys, and allow districts to include this measure in their school quality report. The state should also create resources for new districts to implement community surveys.
Unlike previous federal policies, ESSA is designed to provide support. Including school climate as an accountability measure will ensure that it is taken into account in needs assessments, and that where shortcomings are identified, schools will be able to create improvement plans that aim to reduce exclusionary discipline and disparities across race, gender, and disability.
These supports from the state need to include funding for restorative practices, school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (SWPBIS) and counselors or social workers in their improvement plans. The state should lead schools in implementing discipline alternatives, instead of practices that push children out of school.
All students deserve to attend school in an environment where they feel safe, included, and valued. Our recommendations for a school climate index will help schools push toward this goal, so that all students can fully engage in learning and growth.