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Measuring School Climate: Validating the Education Department School Climate Survey in a Sample of Urban Middle and High School Students

NCJ Number
AERA Open Volume: 6 Issue: 3 Dated: 2020 Pages: 1-21
Date Published
20 pages

This study leverages data from 3,416 students from 26 middle and high schools in Washington, DC to confirm the factor structure of the U.S. Department of Education's School Climate Survey (EDSCLS), using both single-level and multilevel confirmatory factor analyses.


The EDSCLS is a free, open-source school climate survey available for any local or state education agency to use in measuring three domains of school climate: engagement, safety, and environment. At the individual level, the findings of the current study of the factor structure of the EDSCLS paralleled those from the original validation study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. At the school level, the current findings suggested a simpler factor structure for the engagement and environment domains and could not identify a reasonable well-fitting model for the safety domain. Since more states are considering school climate measurement for accountability systems, these findings suggest that using the individual-level structure may not yield valid measurement. 9 tables, 3 figures, and 47 references (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020