COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 24

January 26, 2007

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Addition to 2006-07 School Safety Audit: School Climate Survey

 

 

 

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide background information about a new component of the annual school safety audit which school divisions are required to submit to the Virginia Center for School Safety (VCSS), according to 22.1-279.8.B of the Code. VCSS has included a survey of school climate for reports prepared for the 2006-2007 school year. The survey will measure student and teacher perceptions of school rules and discipline, teacher-student relationships, student involvement in school activities and commitment to learning, and the extent of bullying and teasing at school.

 

The school climate survey will be used as part of a more comprehensive, statewide study of high school safety conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia. The purpose of this study is to identify an optimal balance of structure, such as discipline and supervision, and student supports, such as counseling services and mentoring programs, to maintain a safe and orderly school environment conducive to learning.

 

Results from this study will be used to examine how various school safety and security practices, such as bullying

prevention, video surveillance, and zero tolerance, influence school climate and student behavior. Preliminary study findings will be reviewed by representatives of each of the eight study regions before publication of reports.

 

Each high school that includes grades nine through twelve will administer the survey online to representative samples of ninth-grade students and teachers. Twenty-five eligible students and ten eligible teachers, randomly selected, will complete the survey. Alternates will also be randomly selected. In order to protect individual and school anonymity, the state database will not include names of persons or schools.

 

Student and teacher participation is voluntary. The survey is anonymous; participants will not give their names on the survey, and it will not be possible to match survey answers to participant identities. Parents will be advised by letter of their childs random selection for the survey and offered the option of declining to participate. Selected teachers will be offered the same option.

 

Written and video instructions for random sampling and survey administration will be sent to each high school principal in early March 2007. Principals may choose a one-week period in the month of April for students and teachers to complete the surveys.

More information is available at the website for the VCSS at http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/vcss/. Questions may be directed to Donna Bowman, manager of the VCSS at 804-371-6506, donna.bowman@dcjs.virginia.gov or Arlene Cundiff, coordinator of the safe and drug-free schools program with the Virginia Department of Education, at 804-225-2871, or arlene.cundiff@doe.virginia.gov.

 

 

BKCJr/ADC/fta