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School Climate & Culture

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Today’s schools comprise youth from a wide range of cultures and communities. Because all students deserve equitable opportunities for achievement, schools must strive to create culturally proficient learning environments that intentionally cultivate positive emotional and socio-cultural development for diverse students.

MAEC provides targeted technical assistance and support services to school districts to address disparities in academic achievement and social emotional development among diverse student groups. MAEC utilizes staff expertise, collaborative planning, capacity building, and strategic partnership in order to focus on building, modifying, and/or sustaining positive school culture and climate.


Community Resource Mapping

MAEC uses a strengths-based approach for asset mapping, since often the best solutions come from within the communities in which our districts/schools reside. These key stakeholders include districts, schools, communities, and families all who are seeking to increase student achievement. To this end, MAEC conducts community walks and community resource mapping to identify potential partners and allies for effective and efficient delivery of services. This process includes attention to alignment between district and school needs and priorities so together partners can build the social and human capital that will help students and staff thrive.

Comprehensive Needs Assessment

Beginning with a disaggregated data analysis of student achievement, student discipline, and school climate, MAEC is able to effectively determine client strengths and areas of need. This collaborative inquiry approach enables MAEC to examine multiple sources of data. Using a culturally responsive and equity framework, further creates opportunities to develop operational action plans to tackle complex challenges that pose barriers to gains in student achievement.

Culturally Responsive Family, School, and Community Engagement

A family is a child’s first teacher. When families’ partner with schools and community organizations, children thrive. To produce the best results for students, MAEC builds the capacity of families, educators, schools, and community organizations to collaborate, exchange ideas, and develop and implement policies and action plans. We build on the collaborative strengths of families, educators, and community members so they can each contribute to the development and success of diverse students.

Culturally Responsive Leadership

Leaders set the tone and expectations of any organization. They do this by responding effectively to the diverse communities that they serve, being asset-focused, and proactive problem solvers. Culturally responsive leadership technical assistance provides a multi-dimensional framework that builds capacity of educators who are culturally informed and highly skilled in culturally responsive practice.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Culturally responsive pedagogy is a method and practice of teaching in which educators and providers build on the assets that their students and families bring into the classroom. As the populations of our students grow more diverse, staff must be better prepared to respond to their needs. This requires a greater understanding and knowledge of their students’ culture, strengths, and socio-political contexts. With this practice, schools can become hubs of learning focused on the well being of the students and families being served.

Policy & Procedural Reviews

In educational systems, policies and procedures often inform practice. However, some policies or procedures may have unintended consequences when implemented that serve to further silo organizational efforts to close opportunity gaps. To address this challenge, MAEC provides state departments, districts, schools, and organizations with policy and procedural reviews to ensure they are equitable, effective, and comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Advancing Capacity as Culturally Proficient Leaders

This training series is designed to advance the capacity of district leadership to embed cultural proficiency into their roles and the roles of those they support. This training series transcends cultural proficiency on the individual level to equip leaders with tools that address the systemic and structural role of cultural proficiency in school district transformation. The trainings include the following components: Cultural Proficiency Continuum, School Leader Identity Reflection, Multicultural Education – Cultural Influence on Perspective, Multiple Worlds Theory, Historical, Societal, and Political Contextualization, Cultural Responsive Leadership Norms, Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency, Building Positive School Culture and Climate, and Culture and Climate Self Study.

Culturally Responsive Discipline Models and Practice

Creating a positive school and classroom culture is essential to reducing non-academic behaviors that lead to referrals and suspensions. Culturally Responsive Discipline Models and Practice guides educators through the exploration and analysis of discipline models and policies, including student codes of conduct and culture and climate surveys. The trainings include the following components: School Climate and Culture, PBIS vs. CRPBIS, School Climate Survey Samples, Student Codes of Conduct Models, Root Cause Analysis, and Engaging with Disproportionality.

Culturally Responsive Leadership Practice

This training series provides guidelines and tools designed to facilitate efforts to lead a school in which  good intentions evolve into positive impact. The trainings include the following components: Good Intentions to Positive Impact, Social Cultural Teaching and Learning, Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency, Collaborative Leadership Team, School-Wide Systems for Student Success, and Institutionalizing Cultural Knowledge.

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning

This training series is intended for school-based educators to explore the impact that identity and context have on teaching and learning; build an understanding of educational access, participation, and outcomes as they relate to issues of power and privilege; and apply new knowledge to begin planning for culturally responsive practice implementation. The trainings include the following components: Opportunity Gaps, Disproportionality, Exploring Personal Identity, Perceptions about Students and Learning, Structural Racism vs. Poverty, Cultural Context, Data Analysis and Decision-Making, and Asset-based Approach to Teaching and Learning.

Evolving as Culturally Responsive Educators

This training series is intended to build capacity of educators as culturally proficient leaders. The trainings include the following components: Cultural Proficiency Continuum, School Educator Identity Reflection, Cultural Influence on Perspective, Habits of Mind, Elements of Cultural Identity, Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency, and Multicultural Education – Cultural Influence on Perspective.

Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)

MAEC partners with the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN), to provide train-the-trainer sessions to their designated professional development leadership team. MAEC’s technical assistance is anchored in culturally responsive approaches to Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (CRPBIS) and Culturally Responsive Teaching. This assistance seeks to address identified needs to reinforce district efforts to reduce the disparities in discipline. The project is currently embedded in seven pilot demonstration sites and is ultimately projected toward building a state-wide initiative. The following outcomes have resulted from the first year of train-the-trainer sessions:

  • Increased capacity for leading culturally responsive professional development;
  • Creation of seven demonstration sites to systematically address needed reductions in disproportionality in discipline;
  • Increased effectiveness in the development and administration of school culture and climate surveys.

Post Image Assessing and Enhancing School Climate and Culture

Part of MAEC’s Boosting Success for 21st Century Learners Webinar Series, this webinar provides participants with an overview of research concerning school climate and connectedness, tools to assess current school climate, and resources to create and maintain a positive school climate. This session was originally held on September 25, 2012. Presenter:  Michelle Nutter, Safe and Supportive Schools Manager, Pennsylvania Center for Safe Schools; Pennsylvania State Equity Coordinator, The Mid-Atlantic Equity Center Description: As schools face increasing pressure to ensure the academic success of all students, these efforts must be guided by a greater emphasis on student connectedness.  In order to perform academically, students must feel safe, respected and connected to the adults and other students in their school.  By focusing on creating a positive, welcoming school climate, schools stress the importance of belonging.  By enhancing students’ connectedness to schools, students are more likely to stay in school and be engaged in their education. Learning Outcomes

  • Participants will recognize the important connection between school climate and academic achievement.
  • Participants will understand the difference between school climate and school culture.
  • Participants will identify ways to increase student connectedness.

Post Image Building Relationships for Student Success

  Part of CEE’s Exploring Equity Issues series, this paper discusses the importance of building relationships with students in schools, classrooms, and out-of-time school programs. It also provides principles and practices that educators have used to build positive relationships and school cultures.

Download: Exploring Equity - Building Relationships with Students

Post Image Collaborative Inquiry, Cultural Proficiency, and Racially Diverse Learners

This piece, part of our Addressing Critical Issues series, introduces collaborative inquiry and provides examples of how diverse groups of educators have shown the impact of using it to improve the performance of racially diverse learners.  

Download: Collaborative Inquiry, Cultural Proficiency, and Racially Diverse Learners

Post Image Criteria for an Equitable Classroom – Equity Audit

  This tool helps school leaders assess whether or not a classroom provides students with the processes and information that create a positive learning environment so students can perform at their highest level.

Download: Criteria for an Equitable Classroom

Post Image Criteria for an Equitable School – Equity Audit

  This tool helps school leaders assess whether or not the school provides the processes and information which create a positive learning environment so students and staff can perform at their highest level.

Download: Criteria for an Equitable School

Post Image Culturally Responsive Leaders

Part of CEE’s Exploring Equity Issues series, this paper examines why it is important for educators to be culturally responsive leaders in order to address the needs of their culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Using one of CEE's case studies, it highlights several preconditions necessary for achieving this and outlines the Essential Elements of Cultural Competence.        

Download: Exploring Equity - Culturally Responsive Leaders

Post Image Disproportionality, Discipline, and Race

This piece, part of our Addressing Critical Equity Issues series, discusses the racial disproportionality in discipline and provides promising practices to address it.

Download: Disproportionately, Discipline, and Race - MAEC

Post Image English Learners & Disproportionality in Special Education

This piece, part of our Addressing Critical Equity Issues series, discusses the overrepresentation of English Learners (ELs) in special education classes and provides promising practices to address it.

Download: English Learners & Disproportionality in Special Education

Post Image Ensuring a Safe and Inclusive School Environment for LGBTQ Students

How can we affirm and support LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer) students and their families in schools? Although a lot of progress has been made in shifting public opinion in the last decade, LGBTQ students still face high incidents of bullying, harassment, and discrimination. What can educators do to support these students and ensure they are given every opportunity to succeed? In this webinar, hear from presenters as they share diverse perspectives and strategies on how to create safe and positive school environments to protect the civil rights and socio-emotional well-being of LGBTQ students. Learning Outcomes

  • Strategies, best practices, and policy recommendations to ensure a safe and supportive school climate regardless of a student’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
  • The law and how it covers LGBTQ students.
  • Resources available to administrators, educators, and families to better support the needs of LGBTQ youth to improve student learning.
  • Neena Chaudhry, Director of Education and Senior Counsel, National Women’s Law Center
  • Deborah Bradley and Stephen Hamilton, Parents of Transgender Daughter and Parent Group Facilitators (MA)
  • Jabari Lyles, Executive Director, GLSEN Maryland
  • Christian McCormick, Transgender Student, Lafayette High School (KY)
Presented by the Center for Education Equity (CEE) at MAEC in partnership with the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA). Download:Ensuring a Safe and Inclusive School Environment for LGBTQ Students

Post Image Equity Audit

Three of our Equity Audit tools combined into one file: Criteria for an Equitable School, Criteria for an Equitable Classroom, and Teacher Behaviors that Encourage Student Persistence.

Download: MAEC Equity Audit

Post Image Race and Racism: Encouraging Understanding and Dialogue to Support the Healthy Development of Students

There has been an increase in the number of incidences regarding racism and bigotry. Educators may not be equipped to help children process these events and make sense of the changing world around them. In this webinar, educators and parents will gain an understanding of how the construct of race is developed in young children. They will also be provided with strategies for discussing race and incidents of bias with students. The webinar will also review the role that educators play in providing a safe environment for children to explore their differences in a positive way. Learning Outcomes In this webinar participants will:

  • Learn how children develop racial awareness and develop attitudes of race.
  • Identify strategies that parents can employ to support children dealing with issues of race.
  • Gain an understanding about anti-bias training for different age groups.
  • Learn best practices for bringing stakeholders together to support the positive social emotional development of students.
  • Maria (Charo) del Rosario Basterra,Vice President, Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium
  • Karmen Rouland, Associate Director,Center for Education Equity, Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium
  • Jinnie Spiegler, Director of Curriculum, Anti-Defamation League
  • Jason Sirois, Director, No Place for Hate,Anti-Defamation League

Post Image School Climate Checklist – Discipline

This tool helps schools determine if they are following the guiding principles developed by the Department of Education regarding improving school climate and equitable disciplinary practices.

Download: School Climate Checklist - Discipline

Post Image Socioeconomic Integration and Student Achievement

Students thrive when they learn in both culturally and economically diverse environments. Is your district struggling with segregation issues that undermine the achievement of your students? This webinar is intended for all educators who want to learn about transforming their schools into socially inclusive learning environments by embracing socioeconomic integration. Hear about schools and districts that have been successful, and learn about CEE’s vision to boost student achievement by applying an equity perspective to this process. Learning OutcomesIn this webinar you will learn:

  • why socioeconomic integration has worked in specific districts and how you can apply those principles to your school or district, and
  • how to build learning communities where culture, language, and economic diversity is celebrated and expands learning.
Presenters Download    

Post Image Socioeconomic Integration from an Equity Perspective

This paper seeks to provide a current overview of socioeconomic school integration and provide a new conceptualization of socioeconomic integration from an equity perspective. What does socioeconomic integration involve? How can it be made to work well within schools to benefit all students? The paper draws upon the insights of a day-long conference of educators, researchers, policymakers, civil rights activists, and staff of the nation’s four federally-funded Equity Assistance Centers, sponsored by the Center for Education Equity (CEE) at MAEC in Washington D.C. earlier this year.

Download: Socioeconomic Integration from an Equity Perspective

Post Image Teacher Behaviors that Encourage Student Persistence – Equity Audit

  This tool helps teachers measure their strengths in encouraging students' persistence in learning and marking areas for self-improvement.

Download: Teacher Behaviors that Encourage Student Persistence

Post Image Using Data Inquiry to Advance Equity

Engaging in data inquiry through an equity lens can help us better understand problems of practice - and identify solutions - that make schools more equitable. This webinar demonstrates the benefits of putting equity at the center of data use in schools and shares the publication that the Center for Education Equity (CEE) created to support districts and schools to engage in data inquiry. Presenters  include members of a data inquiry team in Massachusetts who are using CEE’s Data Inquiry Guide for Exploring Equity Issues and Solutions in their school district. Learning Outcomes:

  • Processes and tools to identify equity while generating effective solutions; and
  • How to access and use CEE’s The Data Inquiry Guide for Exploring Equity Issues and Solutions​​​​​
  • Susan Mundry Senior Program Director at WestEd; author of The Data Coach's Guide to Improving Learning for All Students
  • Susan Villani Senior Program Associate at WestEd; lead author of CEE’s Data Inquiry Guide for Exploring Equity Issues and Solutions;
  • Dawn Bentley Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, MA;
  • Dana Labb Principal of the Blanchard Memorial Elementary School, Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, MA;
  • ​​​​​​​David Green  High School Social Studies Teacher, Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, MA;
  • Heather Haines ​​​​​​​K-6 Mathematics Curriculum Coordinator, Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, MA.

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