Essential or Expendable Supports? Assessing the Relationship between School Climate and Student Outcomes

Joshua Klugman

Sociological Science, January 10, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a2

Sociologists of education argue that school organizational practices and climates influence students’ academic outcomes. The predominant measure of school climates are aggregated student and teacher survey reports, which are diffusing into official educational statistics. Unfortunately, most studies are unable to rigorously assess the causal effects of these measures of school organization. This study does so by examining the effects of school climate experienced in grades 4–8 by different cohorts of students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Improvement in school climates has small positive associations with students’ eighth grade test scores and null to minimal associations with students’ chances of on-time ninth grade promotion and high school graduation.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Joshua Klugman: Department of Sociology, Temple University

Acknowledgements: The author thanks Elaine Allensworth, Kaleen Healey, Paul Moore, Eliza Moeller, Stephen Morgan, Shanette Porter, Lauren Sartain, and Penny Bender Sebring for valuable comments on previous drafts of this article. The author is also grateful to the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research for letting him conduct his analyses on their server.

Conflicts of Interest Disclosure: While working on this study, the author was employed by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (which developed the survey measures discussed here) and for part of the time was funded by the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation. Cofounder Charles Lewis sits on the board of the nonprofit organization UChicago-Impact, a sister organization of the Consortium that sells its services administering the school climate measures used in this study (branded as the “5Essentials”). Cofounder Penny Sebring is a director of the Consortium and, before the advent of UChicago-Impact, has authored studies arguing the school climate measures are beneficial for school improvement. Sebring was given an early draft of this study, but the author had final say over analyses and conclusions. The views expressed in this study are those of the author and the author alone.

Data Availability and Replication: Because of data security issues, only Consortium staff have access to this study’s data. Syntax files producing these analyses are available at

  • Citation: Klugman, Joshua. 2016. “Essential or Expendable Supports? Assessing the Relationship between School Climate and Student Outcomes.” Sociological Science 4: 31-53.
  • Received: September 10, 2016
  • Accepted: October 1, 2016
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Stephen Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a2

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