A multiple case study exploring educators’ perspectives on charter-school climate : what factors really matter?


Today, schools’ climates impact every student across the globe (Thapa et al., 2013). “A positive school climate is critically related to school success” (National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning, 2021, para. 2). School climate consists of the many aspects of an educational atmosphere including the physical environment, relationships within the school community, available resources, and regulations (Cohen et al, 2009). School climate has the power to impact students’ day-to-day lives, and shape their overall academic experience (National School Climate Center, 2021; Wang & Degol, 2016). This study used a multiple case study design to research four educators’ perceptions of school climate across four charter schools to understand the most important factors that comprise a school’s climate. The research questions used in this study were: What are educators’ perceptions of current levels of engagement, safety, and environment concerning school climate in charter schools? and, What are educators’ perceptions of school climate improvement efforts regarding engagement, safety, and environment? Purposeful and convenience sampling were used to find participants across Denver, Colorado. Over three months, data collection unfolded in a three-step process. First, the participants completed an in-depth questionnaire, next the participants engaged in individual semi-structured interviews. Finally, the participants told their stories of school climate in a focus-group interview. The research findings suggest that overall, the four educators were satisfied with current levels of their school’s climate. However, the teachers felt that there were larger systemic issues such as feelings of underappreciation that could impact their school’s overall climate. Additionally, the participants shared that they would like to see their voices reflected in administrative decisions, and for more Social Emotional Learning supports available in their schools. Consequently, the findings in this study indicate that teachers are currently satisfied with their schools’ perceived levels of Safety, Engagement, and Environment, and provided suggestions as to improving overall school climates. The results from this study have the potential to impact other schools’ assessment process of school climate, and hopefully will help to spark discussions around the importance of understanding current perceptions of schools’ climates.