08 SES 11, School Climate and Collaboration for Youth Health Promotion
School climate can be defined as the quality and character of school life, which reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures (National School Climate Center, 2007). Positive school climate is associated with desirable outcomes on different levels. On the organizational level, positive school climate can improve schoolwide collaboration and the perceived safety (Kutsyuruba, Klinger & Hussain, 2015). On the personnel level, a positive school climate may decrease teacher stress and reduce the risk for teacher burnout (Malinen & Savolainen, 2016). On the student level, a positive school climate positively influences academic achievement, self-control, self-efficacy, and problem-solving skills (Wang & Degol, 2016). Therefore, improving school climate might be one potential strategy of success for inclusive settings (Urton et al., 2018).
To date, little is known about cross-cultural similarities and differences of the perception of school climate across cultures. Existing studies indicate similarities in regard to an overall school climate score, while proposing differences in specific sub-categories such as peer support or safety (e. g. Jia et al. 2009). However, the examination of perceptions of school climate across different cultural contexts might identify areas of strengths that could inform school improvement efforts in order to increase outcomes on the aforementioned levels.
The current study had two main goals: first, we want to establish a set of school climate surveys that can be used internationally to examine perceptions of school climate from key informants (i. e. teachers, students, parents) to guide school improvement efforts. Therefore, we want to validate a measure to assess perceived school climate from different informants. Second, we want to examine variations of perceived school climate across different cultural contexts. More specifically, we addressed three research questions. First, we questioned if a cross-culturally translated School Climate Surveys demonstrate semantic equivalence, conceptual equivalence, and normative equivalence? Since we followed a six-stage process of translation (Beaton et al., 2000), we hypothesize that we will be able to establish semantic, conceptual, and normative equivalence of the school climate surveys. Second, we wanted to know if there is measurement invariance at the overall school climate level across samples from different cultures. We hypothesize that when using a measure of overall school climate, the translated surveys will continue to demonstrate conceptual equivalence and at least metric invariance across groups. Third, we examined to what degree student, personnel, and parent perceptions of school climate do vary across cultures. We predict that overall perceptions of school climate will be consistent among cross-cultural samples, while differences in the relationships between subscales and overall school climate across cultures will exist.
The questionnaire used in this study was the School Climate Suite (Georgia Department of Education, La Salle, 2018), which was developed to provide a statewide anonymous survey instrument administered annually to students, parents and guardians, and school personnel. The School Climate Suite includes an elementary survey for students in approximately grades 3-5, a secondary school scale for students in approximately grades 6-12, a personnel, and a parent or guardian scale. The scale consists of five to nine subscales such as teaching & learning, school safety, or connectedness. Initial psychometric validations approved the assumed factorial structure as well as good to excellent internal consistency for all scales (see LaSalle, 2017 for a detailed description). This multi-site study took place in 12 countries (Belgium, England, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, and the United States). To cross-culturally adapt the surveys, a six-stage procedure was applied in each country including (1) translation, (2) synthesis, (3) back translation, (4) expert committee review, (5) pretesting (including cognitive interview techniques), and (6) submission and appraisal. After the adaption process, data was collected in each country. Overall, 2,000 school staff members, 6,000 students, and 6,000 parents completed the surveys. Data was analyzed in three steps: first, we applied exploratory factor analyses for each country sample, then we conducted a confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) with school climate as a higher order factor for each sample from each country to examine the factorial structure of the questionnaire. Finally, we examined measurement invariance (of the overall school climate factor) across different cultures in order to test potential cultural effects in using the scales. Third, given the prerequisite of at least metric invariance across cultures, we applied multi-level analyses to examine variations in the perceived school climate across different countries.
CFA results confirm the assumed structure of the scales by revealing the best model fit for the 9-factor solution for the student survey, the 6-factor solution for the personnel survey, and the 5-factor solution for parent survey (CFI > .950, TLI > .950, RMSEA < 0.05). The measurement invariance stepwise testing procedure indicate metric invariance across cultures, which means that both the factor structure and the factor loadings for the aforementioned models are comparable across countries. Multi-level comparisons across nations reveal strong similarity in regard to the overall school climate factor. Results for the subscales were mixed.
Beaton, D. E., Bombardier, C., Guillemin, F., & Ferraz, M. B. (2000). Guidelines for the process of cross-cultural adaptation of self-report measures. Spine, 25, 3186-3191. Jia, Y., Way, N., Ling, G., Yoshikawa, H., Chen, X., Hughes, D., & ... Lu, Z. (2009). The Influence of Student Perceptions of School Climate on Socioemotional and Academic Adjustment: A Comparison of Chinese and American Adolescents. Child Development, 80, 1514-1530. Kutsyuruba, B., Klinger, D. A. & Hussain, A. (2015). Relationships among school climate, school safety, and student achievement and well‐being: a review of the literature. Review of Education, 3, 103-135. La Salle, T.P. (2018). Technical Manual for the Georgia School Climate Survey Suite. Atlanta, GA: Georgia Department of Education Malinen, O. P. & Savolainen, H. (2016). The effect of perceived school climate and teacher efficacy in behavior management on job satisfaction and burnout: A longitudinal study. Teaching and Teacher Education, 60, 144-152. National School Climate Council. (2007). The School Climate Challenge: Narrowing the gap between school climate research and school climate policy, practice guidelines and teacher education policy. Retrieved from http://www.schoolclimate.org/climate/advocacy.php Google Scholar Urton, K., Börnert-Ringleb, M., Krull, J., Wilbert, J., & Hennemann, T. (2018). Inklusives Schulklima: Konzeptionelle Darstellung eines Rahmenmodells. [Inclusive School Climate: Introduction of a Conceptual Framework]. Zeitschrift für Heilpädagogik, 1, 40 – 52. Wang, M. T. & Degol, J. L. (2016). School climate: A review of the construct, measurement, and impact on student outcomes. Educational Psychology Review, 28, 315-352.
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