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- Definition: Percentage of public school staff reporting the number of adults at their school who really care about students.
- Data Source: California Department of Education, California School Climate Survey (WestEd).
- Footnote: The 2011-2013 time period reflects data from school years 2011-12 and 2012-13. Proportions are unweighted. The grade levels included in school district data depend on the grades offered in each district; for example, high school districts do not include 7th grade data. "Non-Traditional" schools include Community Day Schools or schools offering Continuation Education; according to Ed-Data, these schools make up about 10% of all public schools in California. N/A indicates that the survey was not administered in that period or that data are not available for that group. LNE (Low Number Event) indicates that for a specific answer there were fewer than 5 respondents. N/R indicates that the sample is too small to be representative.
- Measures of School Connectedness on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, indicators of school connectedness come from the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS), California Student Survey (CSS), and California School Climate Survey (CSCS). These indicators are made available through a partnership with WestEd, which developed and administers the surveys, and the California Department of Education. Indicators include:
* These data are available by grade level (7th, 9th, 11th, and non-traditional students), gender, and race/ethnicity. "Non-traditional" students are those enrolled in Community Day Schools or Continuation Education. According to Ed-Data, these schools make up about 10% of all public schools in California.
- Student reports of the presence of caring adults at school, high expectations by teachers and other adults, opportunities for meaningful participation at school, and ratings of total school assets (a summary measure that captures caring relationships, high expectations, and meaningful participation at school) and school connectedness (another summary measure, comparable to a national survey, that includes student reports of being treated fairly, feeling close to people, feeling happy, feeling a part of, and feeling safe at school).*
- School staff reports of the extent to which there are caring adults at school, adults at school who believe in student success, and students who are motivated to learn, and the extent to which the school motivates students to learn, gives students opportunities to make a difference, and fosters youth development or resilience.
- School Connectedness
- Caring Adults at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Teachers and Others (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Total School Assets (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- School Connectedness (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Adults at School Believe in Student Success (Staff Reported)
- Caring Adults at School (Staff Reported)
- School Gives Students Opportunities to Make a Difference (Staff Reported)
- School Motivates Students to Learn (Staff Reported)
- Students Who Are Motivated to Learn (Staff Reported)
- Youth Development or Resilience Is Fostered at School (Staff Reported)
- Services for Substance Abuse, Violence, or Other Problems Are Provided at School (Staff Reported)
- Bullying and Harassment at School
- Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Bullying/Harassment for Bias-Related Reason (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Disability as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Gender as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Race or National Origin as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Religion as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Sexual Orientation as Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Other Non-Specified Reason for Bullying/Harassment (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Cyberbullying (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Student Bullying/Harassment Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- College Eligibility
- Children's Emotional Health
- Hospitalizations for Mental Health Issues, by Age Group
- Depression-Related Feelings, by Grade Level
- Youth Who Reported Needing Help for Emotional or Mental Health Problems
- Receipt of Mental Health Services Among Children Who Need Treatment or Counseling (Regions of 70,000 Residents or More)
- Students Who Are Well-Behaved (Staff Reported)
- Student Depression or Mental Health Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- School Emphasizes Helping Students with Emotional and Behavioral Problems (Staff Reported)
- Community Connectedness
- Caring Adults in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Adults in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Total Community Assets (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Food Security
- High School Graduation
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Math Proficiency
- Disconnected Youth
- Pupil Support Service Personnel
- Reading Proficiency
- School Safety
- Perceptions of School Safety (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Fear of Being Beaten Up at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Physical Fighting at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Carrying a Gun at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Carrying a Knife or Other Weapon at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Perceptions of School Safety for Students (Staff Reported)
- Perceptions of School Safety for Staff (Staff Reported)
- Student Physical Fighting Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Student Weapons Possession Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Gang Involvement
- School Attendance and Discipline
- Youth Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use
- Alcohol/Drug Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol/Drug Use on School Property in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Binge Drinking in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Drinking and Driving or Riding with a Driver Who Has Been Drinking, by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Student Alcohol and Drug Use Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Substance Abuse Prevention Is an Important Goal at School (Staff Reported)
- Substance Use Prevention Education Is Provided at School (Staff Reported)
- Youth Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury
- Teen Sexual Health
- Why This Topic Is Important
When students feel connected to their schools (i.e., they feel treated fairly, close to people, happy, part of, and safe at school), they are more likely to succeed academically and engage in healthy behaviors. Specifically, school connectedness is associated with better school attendance, retention, and test scores, and lower rates of emotional problems, substance abuse, early sexual initiation, violence, and other risky behaviors (1, 2).
Schools can foster student connectedness by creating safe environments, promoting caring and supportive relationships, and providing opportunities for meaningful participation in the school environment, among other strategies (2).For more information on school connectedness, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Adolescent and school health: School connectedness. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/protective/connectedness.htm
2. O'Malley, M., & Amarillas, A. (2012). What works brief #4: School connectedness. California Safe and Supportive Schools. Retrieved from: http://www.wested.org/resources/what-works-brief-4-school-connectedness/
- How Children Are Faring
About half (49%) of California public school students (grades 7, 9, 11, and non-traditional classes) reported a high level of agreement that teachers or other adults at school had high expectations of them in 2011-13. However, only 34% expressed a high level of agreement that those adults cared about them, and just 15% reported a high level of agreement that they had opportunities for meaningful participation at school. Levels of total school assets (a summary measure that includes student reports of caring adults, high expectations, and meaningful participation) vary by demographic group. For example, 7th and 11th graders more often expressed a high level of school assets (34% and 35%, respectively) than 9th graders (29%). Of all groups of students, males in non-traditional schools least often reported a high level of school assets (22%). Among racial/ethnic groups, White students most often reported high levels of school assets (40%); Latino students least often reported high levels (28%).
School connectedness (a summary measure that includes student reports of being treated fairly, feeling close to people, feeling happy, feeling a part of, and feeling safe at school) also varies by grade and race/ethnicity. In 2011-13, 7th graders reported a high level of school connectedness (49%) more often than 9th (45%) and 11th graders (44%). Among racial/ethnic groups, White students reported a high level of school connectedness most often (54%), while African American/Black students least often reported a high level of school connectedness (34%).In 2011-13, almost half (49%) of California public school staff (at elementary, middle, high, K-12, and non-traditional schools) reported that "nearly all adults" at their school really care about students, and 39% reported that "nearly all adults" believe that every student can be a success. While 33% of California public school staff in 2011-13 "strongly agreed" that their school motivates students to learn, only 7% reported that "nearly all students" are motivated to learn.
- Policy Implications
Students’ sense of connectedness to school is influenced by many factors, such as the nature of relationships with adults and peers at school, feelings of safety, school discipline policies, parent involvement in school, and opportunities to participate in and contribute to activities during and after school (1). California school districts are required to develop annual Local Control and Accountability Plans that address student engagement, parent involvement, and school climate (a broad term to describe the school environment, which includes school connectedness), among other state priorities (2). Education leaders can continue to strengthen policies and practices that enhance school connectedness, thus increasing a key protective factor associated with improved academic outcomes and reduced risky behavior (3, 4). Students who have become disconnected from school or experience frequent school transitions may need additional support (1, 5).
According to research and subject experts, policy options that could improve school connectedness include:
- Engaging all school stakeholders -- leaders, teachers, students, families, and others -- to develop a shared understanding of what a “positive school climate” means and how it will be implemented (5)
- Creating environments that foster caring relationships, trust, and open communication among students, teachers, staff, administrators, and families (1, 3, 5)
- Engaging students in decision-making processes and meaningful activities during and outside of school hours, such as providing opportunities for volunteering, peer tutoring, and service learning projects (1, 3)
- Creating opportunities for parents to actively participate in school activities and decision-making processes (1, 3, 5)
- Offering professional development to teachers and school staff, so that they can effectively support the diverse needs of students and promote healthy behavior (3, 4)
- Providing students with opportunities to develop skills to help them stay engaged in school, e.g., problem-solving, relationship skills, self-regulation, and decision-making, along with high expectations and the support necessary to achieve them (3, 4)
- Implementing school-wide, prevention-oriented discipline policies that are fair, consistent, and promote a positive learning environment; such policies should be based on a tiered system of appropriate responses to misconduct that keep students in school when possible (1, 4, 5)
- Creating clean, appealing physical environments, which can communicate respect to students and foster a sense of community; such efforts have been linked to reduced violence (5)
- Ensuring that school practices and policies are respectful and responsive to the diverse cultural norms and values of its students, their families, and the broader community (1, 4, 5, 6)
For more policy ideas and information, see California Safe and Supportive Schools and the School Discipline Consensus Report. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under Emotional/Mental Health, High School Graduation, Bullying/Harassment at School, Pupil Support Service Personnel, and Truancy, Suspensions & Expulsions.3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Adolescent and school health: School connectedness. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/protective/connectedness.htm
Sources for this narrative:
1. O'Malley, M., & Amarillas, A. (2012). What works brief #4: School connectedness. California Safe and Supportive Schools. Retrieved from: http://www.wested.org/resources/what-works-brief-4-school-connectedness/
2. California Assembly Bill 97. (2013). Retrieved from: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/asm/ab_0051-0100/ab_97_bill_20130614_enrolled.html
4. Voight, A., et al. (2013). A climate for academic success: How school climate distinguishes schools that are beating the achievement odds. California Comprehensive Center. Retrieved from: http://www.wested.org/online_pubs/hd-13-10.pdf
5. Morgan, E., et al. (2014). The school discipline consensus report: Strategies from the field to keep students engaged in school and out of the juvenile justice system. The Council of State Governments Justice Center. Retrieved from: http://csgjusticecenter.org/youth/school-discipline-consensus-report/
6. Ross, R. (2013). School climate and equity. National School Climate Center. Retrieved from: http://www.schoolclimate.org/publications/documents/sc-brief-equity.pdf
- Websites with Related Information
- ASCD: School Culture and Climate
- California Dept. of Education: Positive School Climate
- California Safe and Supportive Schools, WestEd
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: School Connectedness
- Community Matters: School Climate Resources
- National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, American Institutes for Research
- National School Climate Center
- Youth.gov, Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs
- Key Reports and Research
- 2015 National School Climate Survey: LGBTQ Students Experience Pervasive Harassment and Discrimination, But School-Based Supports Can Make a Difference, 2016, GLSEN, Kosciw, J. G., et al.
- A Research Synthesis of the Associations Between Socioeconomic Background, Inequality, School Climate, and Academic Achievement, 2016, Review of Educational Research, Berkowitz, R., et al.
- California School Safety Toolkit, 2016, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Campie, P., et al.
- Climate Connection Toolkit: Low- and No-Cost Activities for Cultivating a Supportive School Climate (2nd ed.), 2014, WestEd, O'Malley, M., & Poynor, L.
- Community Schools: An Evidence-Based Strategy for Equitable School Improvement, 2017, Learning Policy Institute & National Education Policy Center, Oakes, J., et al.
- Family Engagement Framework: A Tool for California School Districts, 2014, California Department of Education
- Guidebook to the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Surveys: 2016-17 Edition, WestEd
- How Are Middle School Climate and Academic Performance Related Across Schools and Over Time?, 2017, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, & Regional Educational Laboratory West, Voight, A., & Hanson, T.
- Improving School Climate through Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs), 2016, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids
- Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out, 2017, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Jones, S., et al.
- Portrait of Promise: The California Statewide Plan to Promote Health and Mental Health Equity, 2015, California Dept. of Public Health, Office of Health Equity
- Quick Guide on Making School Climate Improvements, 2016, U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students
- School Climate and Pro-social Educational Improvement: Essential Goals and Processes that Support Student Success for All, 2015, National School Climate Council
- The School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System, 2014, Council of State Governments Justice Center, Morgan, E., et al.
- The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model, 2015, Journal of School Health, Hunt, H. (Ed.)
- Workbook for Improving School Climate, 2nd Edition, 2012, WestEd
- County/Regional Reports
- 2016-17 California County Scorecard of Children's Well-Being, Children Now
- 2017 Kern County Report Card, Kern County Network for Children
- County of San Mateo Adolescent Report 2014-15, San Mateo County Health System
- Fresno Community Scorecard
- San Diego County Report Card on Children and Families, 2015, The Children's Initiative & Live Well San Diego
- Santa Clara County Children's Agenda: 2018 Data Book, Planned Parenthood & Kids in Common
- Santa Monica Youth Wellbeing Report Card, Santa Monica Cradle to Career
- More Data Sources For School Connectedness
- California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey (CAL-SCHLS) System, California Dept. of Education & WestEd
- Indicators of School Crime and Safety, National Center for Education Statistics, Bureau for Justice Statistics
- School Climate Survey Compendia, National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, American Institutes for Research
- The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), UNC Carolina Population Center
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