Oklahoma City, OK– A five-year, $3.7 million School Climate Transformation grant is making a significant impact, according to new data released by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). The grant was awarded in 2018 through the U.S. Department of Education and is administered through OSDE.
“The results from this data show an incredible turnaround at schools that have received the most comprehensive supports,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “The impact of improving school climate is twofold – a more positive overall school environment and additional high-quality instructional time for students and teachers to work toward academic success in the classroom. More than halfway through the grant, we are seeing outcomes that touch on all that we know about child development and learning – students’ basic needs for safety, trust and security must be met before learning can occur.”
School climate can be defined as the quality and character of a given school that reflects the shared norms, behaviors, priorities and expectations of its staff and students.
To date, the grant has funded statewide training and technical assistance on how schools and districts can implement integrated, multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) to improve school climate, including Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Pyramid Model frameworks, trauma-informed practices, mental health awareness and prevention curriculum. Additionally, 50 individual schools are receiving intensive coaching and training.
|Between the early stages of the grant’s implementation in 2018 and the end of the 2020-21 school year, the intensive-intervention school sites saw a 56% reduction in discipline referrals and a 31% decrease in suspensions from school. In the same time period, 19,627 educators and support staff received targeted training in integrated multi-tiered systems of support to improve student behavior and school climate.
Julie Bloss, principal at the Grove Early Childhood Center, has seen the grant’s impact with her school’s pre-kindergarten and first-grade students.
“Because we transition the youngest learners into school for the first time, we don’t just teach academics,” Bloss said. “We teach students how to do school – how to keep your hands to yourself, how to problem-solve, how to resolve a conflict and more.
“The grant helped us put in place a systematic approach to having schoolwide expectations for all students. Every day we are celebrating and recognizing positive things occurring in our classrooms with our students when they meet those expectations. This has helped us provide an exceptional academic atmosphere because we have the behavior under control. It really has been a game-changer for us – this school year, we are implementing what we have learned from the School Climate Transformation grant across every site in the district.”
The grant has enabled the OSDE to develop a myriad of tools all schools in Oklahoma can utilize to improve school climate, including:
The OSDE and School Climate Transformation team are hosting a free two-day conference for educators, Supporting the Whole Child: 2022 MTSS Summer Conference, on June 21-22, at the Edmond Conference Center. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. For more information on the School Climate Transformation grant and the resources the OSDE has created to support schools, click here.