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Researchers get $400,000 to study impact of CMSD school climate

CMSD has spent a decade working to improve school climate and culture, gaining a national reputation as a leader in what is called social and emotional learning.

Now the District will join Cleveland State University and the American Institutes for Research in studying how changes in school climate, for better or worse, affect specific groups of students. Categories will include race, ethnicity and gender.

The U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences has awarded a $400,000 grant to the Cleveland Alliance for School Climate Research, a new partnership that includes CMSD, Cleveland State and AIR. District Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon welcomed the news.

“We know that for students to learn, they must be in settings where they feel safe, respected and supported by both peers and adults,” he said. “We look forward to participating in and seeing the results of research that shows, in detail, the effects of school climate on specific groups of children.”

Adam Voight, director of CSU’s Center for Urban Education, will lead the research team. He said findings could assist schools across the country.

CMSD began focusing heavily on what is called social and emotional learning 10 years ago, after a student at a downtown high school shot and wounded two classmates and two teachers and then killed himself. The District's sweeping Humanware program helps students manage their emotions, make responsible decisions and build healthy relationships.

In May, the prestigious Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social Emotional and Academic Development spent two days in Cleveland, observing District schools and collecting information that will help develop a series of recommendations due next year.

The Aspen Institute has said it wants to spark “the most important conversation about K-12 education that we have had in a generation” and make SEAD “part of the fabric of every school.”

Twice a year, CMSD surveys students in the second through 12th grades to rank the extent to which they feel safe, respected, supported and challenged in their schools. Researchers will use this "conditions for learning" data to study the link between school climate and results that include academics, behavior and attendance.