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A Climate for Academic Success: How School Climate Distinguishes Schools That Are Beating the Achievement Odds (Full Report)

By Adam Voight, Gregory Austin, Thomas Hanson


This report, written by WestEd’s Adam Voight, Gregory Austin, and Thomas Hanson, describes a study that examines what makes successful schools different from other schools. Rather than define success in absolute terms, this study’s definition is based on whether or not a school is performing better than predicted given the characteristics of the students it serves.

Using data from over 1,700 California public middle and high schools, 40 schools were identified that consistently performed better than predicted on standardized tests of math and English language arts achievement. These schools were labeled “beating-the-odds” (BTO) schools.Some key results:

  • BTO schools had substantially more positive levels of school climate than other schools
  • BTO schools had climate scores at the 82nd percentile, on average, whereas other schools were at the 49th percentile, on average

This study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that school climate is an important factor for school success, and investigates not only if there is an association between climate and achievement but also if school climate helps understand how a subset of schools is consistently able to beat the odds and perform better than its peers.

In addition to the Full Report, a Report Summary and an updated list of California Beating-The-Odds Schools are also available.

Resource Details

Product Information

Copyright: 2013
Format: PDF
Pages: 37
Publisher: WestEd