Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Measuring Classroom Climate: A Validation Study of the My Child's Classroom Inventory-Short Form for Parents

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Measuring Classroom Climate: A Validation Study of the My Child's Classroom Inventory-Short Form for Parents

Article excerpt

For decades now, increased interest in the topic of school climate has challenged educators to consider ways to gather pertinent information and make necessary changes to better meet the needs of students (Thapa, Cohen, Guffey, & Higgins-D'Alessandro, 2013). School climate refers to both the physical environment of a school (school grounds, classrooms, safety supports in place) and the interactions among its members (students; teachers and students; teachers and parents; and teachers, administrators, school counselors, and other staff). Thapa, Cohen, Guffey, and Higgins-D'Alessandro (2013) defined climate in terms of four main areas: safety, relationships, teaching and learning, and the institutional environment. Likewise, classroom climate defines similar facets related to the space, structure, interplay, and events that occur within a particular classroom environment (Adelman & Taylor, 2002). Research has associated positive school/classroom settings with more favorable academic and social/emotional outcomes for students. For example, evidence suggests that affirmative learning environments promote healthy relationships, a sense of connectedness, increased learning gains, fewer disciplinary problems, and higher promotion/graduation rates, all of which are outcomes of great importance to school counselors (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2009; Gottfredson, Gottfredson, Payne, & Gottfredson, 2004; Reyes, Brackett, Rivers, White, & Salovey, 2012; Thapa et al., 2013; Thomas, Bierman, & Powers, 2011).

In a report on accountability conducted by the Learning Policy Institute, Melnick, Cook-Harvey, and Darling-Hammond (2017) offered the common phrase used by researchers: "What gets measured gets done" (p. 10). Following this rationale, the only sure way to accurately address the climate needs in a school is to first assess and analyze its current status and dynamics. The CDC (2009) strongly recommended that school climate reform be based on data-driven decision-making, whereby educators measure multiple levels of change and gather perceptions to gain a comprehensive perspective on the operational functioning of the school milieu. Moreover, the Every Student Succeeds Act (U.S. Department of Education [U.S. DOE], 2018) requires that school leaders include indicators of school quality and student success within their accountability reports. The U.S. DOE (2007) has even provided funding through several Safe and Supportive Schools grants to extend what is presently known about measurement, evaluation, and research in this area; however, valid and reliable tools to assess school/classroom climate are scarce, which further complicates the issue.

If school counselors are to target areas for improvement, select interventions, programming, and curricula that best fit with their stakeholders needs; and work with school staff, parents, and community leaders to tackle the problems evident, they must be confident that they can rely on the gathered data. Collecting information from multiple sources or levels of influence (systems) can also reveal areas of alignment or disagreement (Lee & Shute, 2010). Although some instruments were developed to assist in this process, the majority have not stood the test of time nor have they been rigorously investigated for their psychometric properties (La Paro, Pianta, & Stuhlman, 2004). This article provides support for a reliable and valid instrument for gauging parent perceptions of their child's classroom climate. This psychometric study builds on the research of several previous studies (Mariani, Villares, Sink, Colvin, & Perhay Kuba, 2015; Villares, Mariani, Sink, & Colvin, 2016) that validated two other classroom climate measures, one for students and one for teachers, that school counselors can easily administer as a part of ongoing program evaluation. We discuss findings from an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) that support the reliability and structural validity of the instrument, the My Child's Class Inventory-Short Form (MCCI-SF; Sink, 2017), and present practical applications and implications for school counselors. …

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