Principals' Perceptions of School Climate Surveys and How They Influence Their Practice
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DepartmentHood College Education
In schools, principals are responsible for many things, but one of the primary responsibilities is to create a positive school environment. School climate has a different meaning to different stakeholders, including school leaders, school staff, and students, as well as parent and community members. School climate surveys are one way to measure school climate. Results provide each stakeholder with the opportunity to provide feedback on many of the aspects that make up the school climate. Additionally, climate surveys give administrators and other interested parties an opportunity to assess how stakeholders feel about the school climate. While climate surveys can provide insight into what is happening at a particular school, they also can be misleading. This may be problematic since they can have a large impact on evaluation of a school or school administrator. This qualitative research project explored how the perceptions of principals about their school climate surveys influenced their practice. A brief questionnaire was used to gather information from principals about their experiences with and perceptions about climate surveys. Each of the 12 principal participants was interviewed to further explore their perceptions about climate surveys. Within the interviews, a self-anchoring scale and values inventory activities were used to delve into how their perceptions of school climate surveys have influenced their practice. Principals reflected on how and why they used climate survey data to act or not on implementing a policy or a structure. The findings of the study indicate that climate matters for student achievement and that the duration of a principal’s experience in a school makes a difference. Additionally, the preparation of the administrator is of paramount importance as is the need to have multiple data points.