Developing and Assessing School Culture
A New Level of Accountability for Schools - A Position Paper of the Character Education Partnership

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A New Level of Accountability for Schools

A positive school culture—what many people call “school climate”—is the cornerstone of all good schools. It is the foundation for school improvement. Nevertheless, it often goes unmentioned and unaddressed in school reform and assessment. This CEP position paper argues that education in our nation is at a defining moment, one with the potential to reshape our national conversation about school improvement. Successful schools—ones that foster both academic excellence and ethics—have positive, effective school cultures. We define a positive school culture broadly to include the schoolwide ethos and the culture of individual classrooms, high expectations for learning and achievement, a safe and caring environment, shared values and relational trust, a powerful pedagogy and curriculum, high student motivation and engagement, a professional faculty culture, and partnerships with families and the community.

Because a positive school culture is central to student success and holistic school transformation, we must help all schools acquire the tools needed to develop and assess such cultures. Schools must also be held accountable for assessing the quality of their school cultures. CEP joins a number of other national organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education and the National Council on School Climate, in advocating for this new level of accountability.