What Succeeds


Research demonstrates that the school learning environment – which includes the school culture and climate – significantly influences students’ educational and life outcomes. While often overlooked by policymakers, the research is clear that the school learning environment significantly influences students’ educational and life outcomes (Allen and others, 2011).

Whether referred to as a quality school climate (Shindler, 2010), building relational trust (Blankstein, 2004), fostering healthy, safe and supportive learning environments (Parrett and Budge, 2012), establishing resiliency-promoting school environments (Henderson, 2013), or creating a collaborative culture(DuFour and Marzano, 2011); higher functioning schools are defined by a culture of belonging and community, resulting in school transformations that not only improve student success, but also create a school environment of collaboration among administrators, teachers and staff.

Research consistently identifies improving school culture and climate, and interactions among stakeholders at the school level as the most powerful mediating factor for turning around underperforming schools.

No instances of successful school turnaround were found that did not address school culture and there is an almost perfect correlation between school climate measures and student achievement scores (Macneil, 2009).

While it is not the solution alone, improving school climate and culture is the basic building block that generates the good will, and helps build the cultural norms and cooperation needed for all other systematic improvement efforts. And, in chronically underperforming schools, AES believes it must come first!