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Assess and Enhance School Climate

Institutional Change

Assess and Enhance School Climate

"Structural change that is not supported by cultural change will eventually be overwhelmed by the culture, for it is the culture that any organization finds meaning in stability." - Phillip Schlechty

A school's climate has a strong influence over students and staff. Assess the school's climate and working to increase positivity and collaborative efforts is essential for institutional change from a systems perspective. Shaping and influencing a school's culture and climate can and should be intentional. (Elbot & Fulton, 2005) A positive school climate consists of:

  • Relational Trust
    • How well each key stakeholder (students, parents, teachers, administration) believes that members of the other groups are fulfilling their role and obligations.
  • Supportive Leadership
    • Shared mission and goals, instructional guidance and staff feeling validated and that they have a voice.
    • Organizational change, roles, and expectations clearly defined. Having clear and fair policies, procedures, and practices that are clearly defined and consistent.
  • Trust and Respect
    • Positive rapport and relationships built between key stakeholder groups.
  • Professional Development
    • Staff feels valuable, knowledgeable, and prepared.
  • Expectations, Trust, and Accountability
    • Having high expectations that are consistently followed through, however, expectations need to be accompanied with trust and accountability. Collaborative and shared conflict resolution efforts will increase consistency and build trust and a positive school climate.
  • Physical Environment
    • School safety policies and cleanliness impact culture and climate.
  • Markers, Rituals, and Transitions
    • Creating an event/assembly/tradition to positively reinforce successes, effort, and accomplishments for students as well as staff.


Schools that Beat the Odds, 2005, McRel

Discusses common factors for successful schools.

Identifying Differences Between Two Groups of High-Needs High Schools, 2008, McRel

Discusses the differences between high performing and low performing high needs schools, specifically significant
differences in various factors.

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