Voices from the Field

Voices from the Field is a place for administrators, teachers, school support staff, community, and family members to learn what experts -- researchers, practitioners, family -- from across the country think by reading a short post that includes the latest promising practices on a range of school climate topics, along with references and related resources.

What is the primary way your school is strengthening school-wide relationships?

Districts that need to address school violence or bullying and raise test scores may want to look more carefully at what they can do to foster positive relationships among all members of the school community. It turns out that promoting a seemingly “soft” value like respectful relationships can lead to improvements that show up in hard, academic data.

The entire school community, from the bus driver to the principal, can participate in establishing the best possible conditions for learning:

  • Students are safe. Not just physically, but also emotionally and socially. [1]
  • Students are supported. They have meaningful connections to adults and acceptance from their peers.[2]
  • Students are challenged. The school sets high expectations and offers rigorous academic opportunities.[3]
  • Students are socially capable. They are cooperative team players who contribute to the school community.[4]

Consciously working to create a culture of respect can pay dividends—in less bullying and in improved student attendance, test scores, [5] [6] [7] and graduation rates, as well as higher rates of teacher satisfaction.[8]

American Institutes for Research

U.S. Department of Education

The contents of the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments Web site were assembled under contracts from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Supportive Schools to the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Contract Number  91990021A0020.

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