What Makes for an Effective School Environment?

Effective School Environments Are Necessary for DeKalb County Schools and it's students

DeKalb County Parents I'd like to ask you what you think  makes for an Effective School Environment?

I wanted to define in my mind what I felt should be a standard model of an Effective School Environment. Using my own knowledge and experience, in reading several articles, and reviewing research data, this is what I believe to hold true.

A School “ENVIRONMENT” is an essential component of a student’s life.   Schools have a responsibility to provide students with a "SAFE ENVIRONMENT" in which to develop academically,amotionally, and behaviorally; while at the same time developing relationships with others.

What every Student wants and needs to thrive in a School Environment is 

  1. Stability
  2. Structure
  3. Safe Haven/Environment
  4. Limitations and Boundaries
  5. Respect

I have read a lot of material, and in doing so, there seems to be a consistant theme in regards to the necessary qualities that seem to influence students’ positive results in a school environment.

  • Having a Sense of belonging and being a part of a school
  • Liking School
  • Perceiving that teachers are supportive and caring
  • Having good friends within the school
  • Being engaged in their own current and future academic success and progress
  • Believing that discipline is fair and effective
  • Participating in extracurricular activities 


Research shows that students who feel “connected to their school environment do better academically and are also less likely to be involved in risky health behaviors; drug use, cigarette smoking, early sex, violence,suicidal thoughts and attempts”.  Increasing student connections to their environment “decreases absenteeism, fighting, bullying and vandalism, while promoting educational motivation, classroom engagement, academic performance, school attendance, and completion rates.”(Source: School Connectedness-The Values of Connections)

Students embrace their environment when they believe that the adults in the school care about their learning and about them as individuals.  Students are more likely to succeed when they feel a connection to School. As Individuals, students who perceive their teachers and School administration as creating a caring, well-structured learning environment in which expectations are high, clear, fair are more likely to be connected to the school and thrive.

All of this seems to be pretty reasonable in expectation, and should not be rocket science to produce.  So why is it that many of our DeKalb County Schools can not provide these basics for our students?

As a community advocate, and as a parent- I know that I am constantly out there raising my hand and asking the tough questions. I do not have a PhD, but I do have common sense.  I do not understand the difficulty of providing just the basics on a county level?

I am really curious to know what type of environment your community school fosters?    Are your local community schools meeting the expectation?

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Cheryl Miller February 01, 2013 at 01:34 AM
We have often talked about this exact same thing at my house. The school system in DeKalb is in a constant state of flux. One of the worst things you can do to a child is to disrupt his/her comfort zone by a move to a new school, even if it is for a positive reason. Research has shown that it takes a full school year after a move for your child to return to the level of learning they were at BEFORE the move because that first year is a social adjustment. It's difficult to feel comfortable in a new or changing environment and kids are easily distracted. They can't focus on learning when they are worried about fitting in, making friends or learning their way around a new school. Sometimes a move is something that cannot be avoided and we all have to make the tough choices on behalf of what we think is right. I just hope that we can also see where all this focus on building may not be in the best interest of the children. Remodeling or even just maintaining the current buildings would be preferrable in many cases to total demolition and rebuilding. Harvard University is more than 100 years old and I don't think they are having any problems with their academic standards, so it is clear to me that the two things are not related. We, as a county, have placed far too much focus on the facade of education. It's time to start putting the focus on what will actually help the children.


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