School climate and its effects on school disorder in Philadelphia were studied from three perspectives: (1) community family, and crime composition effects on school disruption and violence; (2) organizational and school social climate data in relation to school safety in 42 middle schools; and (3) factors and impacts in 3 middle schools.
The research also sought to determine the extent to which school-based management was established in individual schools, as well as its role in disorder and violence reductions. In addition, the research examined the extent to which efforts aimed at increasing local autonomy within schools also changed the attitudes within schools. Findings indicated that high levels of disorder at middle schools negatively affected academic achievement and that programs to increase school safety and security are likely to have positive effects on student achievement. The schools with the largest student populations were likely to experience many more difficulties in maintaining order than were smaller schools. In addition, the basic principles of school-based management were helpful for promoting the development of school climate, but school-based management is only one of many strategies for improving school climate and safety. Findings suggested the need to understand school climate and culture as major factors shaping the success or failure of any particular school and to establish mechanisms that provide feedback to those initiating programs of safety planning and school-based management. Findings also indicated that, despite resource and program support from central administrative offices, local decision-makers can and should focus on what goes on in their school to affect school culture. The research also suggested the importance of establishing partnerships within and outside the school and the need for an overarching conceptual and pragmatic framework to guide local administrators in effective safety planning. Tables, figures, and 114 references
Date Published: January 1, 1996
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