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Studies from ASSC

Read the complete article (.pdf) and the BRE review (.doc).

Bridging the Achievement Gap
  • Exploring the School Climate -- Student Achievement Connection: And Making Sense of Why the First Precedes the Second
  • Exploring Below the Surface: School Climate Assessment and Improvement as the Key to Bridging the Achievement Gap
·       “Architect and Steward: Shaping a Vision of Learning” Examining the Role of the Principal in the Immersion of New Teachers into Existing Urban School Climates·       “Don’t Smile Until Christmas:” Examining the Immersion of New Teachers into Existing Urban School Climates
  • **A Transformative Climate: The Key to Systematically Promoting Student Success and Reducing the Achievement Gap     

    Classroom Management Research

    • ***TCM Appendix: The TCM – Student Achievement Connection
    • Epigenetic Enhancement of the Developing Brain: Every Parent’s Right for their Child, to Avert Failure Classroom and Teaching Research
      • *Exploring Below the Surface: School Climate Assessment and Improvement as the Key to Bridging the Achievement Gap

      Whole School Research

      *Abstract: This paper reports the findings of a study by the Alliance for the Study of School Climate (ASSC) that explores the causes and remedies for the student achievement gap.  ASSC School Climate Assessment Instrument (SCAI) and achievement test score data were collected from 20 urban public schools – 7 Elementary School, 7 Middle School, and 6 High School. Results of the data analysis found a +0.7 correlation coefficient between achievement and school climate/performance. Higher performing schools were shown to have climates that were characterized by organizational intentionality, higher levels of community, greater teacher collaboration, and high degrees of what is termed “psychology of success” promoting practice and low levels of “psychology of failure” promoting practice. These practices are further identified and explained in the paper. Implications of the findings are offered for the field as well as for practitioners.


      This presentation reports the findings of a study examining the factors that contribute to student achievement and the achievement gap. The results of the study suggest that there is a strong relationship between school climate and student achievement. As Anyon (1980) suggested, schools tend to produce climates and practices that are different for different students based on the socio-economic status of the neighborhoods in which they are found. The results of this study suggest that not only does that differentiation promote differences in the resulting cultural capital obtained students and class reproduction, but also leads to very significant differences in test scores between student groups within and between schools. Moreover, the data suggests that the low quality school climates that are produced by what Anyon terms the working class type of practice, and defended as “what these students need,” actually undermine achievement and promote the achievement gap between groups.

      In most cases the ideas of social justice, student achievement, the achievement gap, best practice, and school climate are seen as largely distinct and discrete considerations. In fact, very often school leaders tend to prioritize considerations of school climate and social justice below issues of achievement due to the pressing demands of state testing and accountability requirements. The results of this study suggest that this is at best a narrow perspective and at worst a big mistake and harmful to the educational product at their schools. As California (See State 2008 report: Bridging the Achievement Gap”) and other states are recognizing, systematically reducing the achievement gap will require a deliberate approach to promoting high quality climate or little if any improvement in achievement will be possible.

      The paper reports the findings of a study of 21 K-12 schools in a large urban city. Key findings of the study include 1) a 0.7 correlation between climate and student state test scores, 2) a correlation of 0.3 between climate and SIM or similar school scores, 3) strong correlations among the eight areas of climate measured by the ASSC SCAI, and 4) an achievement gap between students in schools in which the climate was poor and those in which it was of high quality.

      Figure E: Line Graph Derived from a Scatter Plot of Achievement Scores by Climate/SCAI

      ***Appendix: Classroom Management and Student Achievement

      In a study of 21 urban K-12 schools, high quality classroom management was found to be strongly correlated with student achievement (Shindler, 2009). The sample of schools included 7 elementary, 7 Middle Level, and 7 High Schools, and reflected a diverse range of student demographic populations. Schools were assessed using the Alliance for the Study of School Climate (ASSC) School Climate Assess Instrument (SCAI) by both students and teachers at each school. Dimension 5 of the SCAI specifically measures the quality of classroom management, so was used to rate the quality of practice. High quality practices were defined by 1-Style/Transformative Classroom Management (TCM) practice (see Figure J.2).

      The results showed that school climate and classroom management both were highly related to student achievement. The correlation coefficient between the SCAI dimension 5 measure for classroom management and student achievement as measured by California State Academic Performance Index (API) was +0.7. When API score was adjusted for the socioeconomic status of the students at each school the correlation increased to +0.8. In other words, there was an 80% relationship between the pattern of API and classroom management quality scores (as seen in the Figure J.1 below). Moreover, the study found that when schools with similar student populations used more TCM their achievement level were higher.

      This scatter plot diagram shows the relationship between student achievement and the rating of the quality of the classroom management (SCAI dimension 5) at each of the 21 schools. On the vertical axis, API scores range from 200 (low test scores) to 1000 (high test scores). On the horizontal axis, classroom management quality is rated between 1 (low quality) and 9 (high quality).

      Figure J.1: Scatter Plot Diagram of Student Achievement Scores by School Classroom Management Practice Ratings.



      As the chart shows, when schools used practices closer to those described in TCM as transformative/1-Style and fewer 3 and 4-Style teacher practice, student achievement was higher.

      Figure J.2 represents classroom management practices as represented on the ASSC SCAI Dimension 5 in relation to the TCM Teaching Style Matrix. The ASSC SCAI was designed to reflect high function/“success psychology”/transformative practices as most desirable and highest rated, and low/function/“failure psychology”/accidental practices as least desirable and lowest rated.  Extrapolating from the scatter plot correlations, predicted achievement scores can be derived from the data. Higher API/student achievement scores could be predicted for the use of high function 1-Style practice, average scores could be predicted from use of traditional/low function 2-Style practice, and low scores could be predicted from the use of 3 or 4-Style practice.

      Figure J.2: SCAI Classroom Management Ratings, and corresponding predicted API score correlations as Depicted by the TCM Teaching Style Matrix

      High Function/Intentional

      Internal Locus of Control

      Student Centered


      Teacher Centered



      9 SCAI












      8 SCAI






      2 - Style






      7 SCAI













      6 SCAI












      5 SCAI











      4 SCAI










      3 SCAI









      2 SCAI












      1 SCAI





      Low Function/Accidental

      External Locus of Control

      Shindler, J., Jones, A., Williams, A., Taylor, C. & Cadenas, H (2009) Exploring Below the Surface: School Climate Assessment and Improvement as the Key to Bridging the Achievement Gap A Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Seattle WA. January, 2009.