The Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) and the Equity Implemented Partnership released a report on Tuesday, June 11 that describes student experiences of school climate in the District’s schools. The report details results from a survey administered to all 5th through 12th grade students in the ICCSD in February 2019 as well as trends in student experiences from 2016.
"This student climate data not only provides insight into student experiences of District schools, but provides an opportunity to evaluate progress in achieving more equity in student experiences and outcomes, and to inform the District’s planning moving forward.” Dr. Sarah Bruch, lead author of the report and Director of the Social and Education Policy Research Program said.
On the positive side, there were improvements in several types of student experiences of school climate, reduction in some gender and sexual orientation disparities, and high levels of social and emotional support reported by ELL and IEP students.
However, there were also declines in some areas including students perception of equitable treatment from teachers and fairness in how discipline is enforced, and the percentage of students hearing hurtful comments from teachers and students increased.
The data also highlight the presence of persistent disparities by race, gender, sexual orientation, and FRPL (free or reduced price lunch) status in several areas, including racial disparities in teacher relationships, gender disparities in bullying, sexual orientation disparities in classroom membership, and higher numbers of FRPL hearing hurtful comments from teachers
One of the striking patterns that also stands out in the data is one best described as “advantaging the already advantaged” whereby students who are designated as advanced learners have more positive experiences and fewer negative experiences of school climate on almost every metric in the survey compared to their peers, and whereby students whose parents have advanced degrees also are more likely to report positive experiences and less likely to report negative experiences compared to their peers across a wide range of experiences.
A substantial body of research demonstrates that a safe, supportive, and relationally strong school environments promotes academic, social, and emotional development. Research has also documented that students from disadvantaged backgrounds and socially marginalized identities are less likely to experience these types of positive school environments.
Given the extensive information obtained from the Student Experiences of School Climate Survey over the past four years, the Iowa City Community School District is well-positioned to be a leader in the State of Iowa in attending to student experiences of school climate.
The survey and report are the product of a research-practice partnership between the researchers in the Social and Education Policy Research Program at the Public Policy Center at the University of Iowa and the ICCSD. The full report is available under our Publications.