Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology: School Psychology

First Advisor

Renée M. Tobin

Second Advisor

Adena B. Meyers


Millions of youth are at risk for low academic achievement, school dropout, risky behavior, bullying, and mental health concerns, especially those living in rural areas. Protective factors can reduce the likelihood of children and adolescents experiencing these negative outcomes. Research shows that positive school climate is a powerful protective factor for youth. The present study investigated the longitudinal relations between middle school students' school climate perceptions and their academic, social-emotional, and behavioral development over two years. Specifically, 510 students in grades 5-9 from six rural schools rated their support and influence at school as well as their internalizing problems, personal adjustment, and risky behavior. Students' academic performance was progress monitored using reading and math curriculum-based measures. Data were examined using Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM). Results revealed significant relations between students' perceived school climate and their social-emotional, behavioral, and mathematics outcomes over time. Further, school climate was a predictor of students' future involvement in risky behavior. There was a slight negative trend in students' perceived school climate as well as increases in their social-emotional problems and risky behavior, which suggests the need to implement evidence-based school climate improvement strategies aligned to students' developmental levels. Findings indicate the importance of incorporating school climate assessment and improvement strategies in school practices and policies to enhance student outcomes and school contexts. Limitations and future directions for research are discussed based on results from the present study and the school climate literature. Overall, school climate significantly influences outcomes for youth


Imported from ProQuest EngellandSchultz_ilstu_0092E_10588.pdf


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