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Implementation of a Capacity-Building Framework to Improve School Climate in an Urban School System

NCJ Number
Bonnie J. Solomon; Brandon Stratford; Heather Steed; Sarah Sun; Deborah Temkin
Date Published
36 pages

This paper lays out the research methodology and outcomes of a study that examined the impacts of technical assistance for the implementation of capacity-building framework for school climate improvement, emphasizing shared leadership and data-informed decision making.


Mounting evidence suggests that a positive school climate can promote learning and well-being for students and reduce bullying and other forms of violence, but many schools lack the capacity needed to engage in comprehensive school climate improvement. As part of a broader evaluation, this study examines implementation of a capacity-building framework for school climate improvement that emphasizes shared leadership and data-informed decision making. The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with points of contact at schools receiving technical assistance and those that were allowed to work through the framework on their own. They also conducted interviews with technical assistance specialists working with schools randomly assigned to receive the intervention. Analyses explored three key research questions: What factors contributed to schools’ initial decision to participate in the project? What factors were associated with sustained engagement? And: To what extent did schools build organizational capacity through participation? Organizational readiness, including both motivation and general organizational capacity, emerged as a key facilitator of sustained engagement. In particular, the presence of a champion was facilitative despite the framework’s emphasis on shared leadership. Staff turnover and competing priorities were identified as common challenges. With technical assistance, schools that were able to invest time and effort in the framework perceived growth in their capacity for shared leadership and data literacy, however technical assistance specialists did not feel adequately prepared to support schools in implementing the framework. The authors’ discussion focuses on implications for evidence-based technical assistance and implementing comprehensive climate improvement efforts in urban schools. Publisher Abstract Provided