Twenty-eight highly motivated schools from 14 partnering school districts across Arizona were selected to participate in the S3 grant. These schools are in diverse locations and are representative of the demographics in Arizona. The selected schools value creating safer schools, making efforts to improve school climate and connectedness, and utilizing data driven decision making. All of these schools have established multi-disciplinary teams whose purpose is to engage their school community, use school-level data to determine needed interventions, and implement evidence-based interventions to achieve the goals of the S3 Grant.
The United States Department of Education (USDE) requires all Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) grantees to develop a climate index (CI) “for each eligible school1 selected to implement programmatic interventions (as defined), using both student survey data and incident data2 (as defined) that is disaggregated at the school building level, in each year of the project period” (USDE S3 Grant, Pg. 23). Partnering districts are also required to develop climate indexes (CI) for non-funded schools “within the first 12 months of the project period and again during the final 12 months of the project period” as well (USDE S3 Grant, Pg. 23).
ADEs CI is comprised of student prevalence and perception of school safety, school climate and connectedness measures and incident data. The formula for the Arizona CI is:
CI = [1 – (Average of prevalence/perception of school safety & school climate/connectedness) + (student violation score)]*100
However, since no research base exists for this type of calculation the following are limitations that should be kept in mind when interpreting the CI:
- CI’s should not be used to compare schools to each other3
- CI’s should not be used to compare a school from one year to the next4
- CI’s should not be used to compare States to each other5
1Eligible school means any school that includes 9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, or 12th grade.
2Incident data means data from incident reports by school officials including, but not limited to the frequency and incidence of violence and drug-related offenses by students in schools.
3Incident data is self-reported by schools to ADE. As such, even though schools may have the similar rates of incidences, some may report more accurately than others.
4Incidents are self-reported by schools to ADE. One of ADE’s priorities for this grant is to increase accuracy in incident data reporting. Thus, as accuracy of capturing incidents increases, incident reporting may increase, causing the safety scores to decrease over time. This effect is not related to how safe a school is.
5Every State with an S3 Grant independently developed their own calculation, and thus the calculation is not consistent across States.