School Safety

School Climate & Connectedness/Assets

Click a topic to jump to section

Introduction to School Climate & Connectedness / Assets

Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets ® are concrete, common sense, positive experiences and qualities essential to raising successful young people. These assets have the power during critical adolescent years to influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible adults. (SEARHC - Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium)

The first 20 Developmental Assets focus on positive experiences that young people receive from the people and institutions in their lives. Four categories of external assets are included in the framework:

  • Support - Young people need to experience support, care, and love from their families, neighbors, and many others. They need organizations and institutions that provide positive, supportive environments.
  • Empowerment - Young people need to be valued by their community and have opportunities to contribute to others. For this to occur, they must be safe and feel secure.
  • Boundaries and expectations - Young people need to know what is expected of them and whether activities and behaviors are "in bounds" and "out of bounds."
  • Constructive use of time - Young people need constructive, enriching opportunities for growth through creative activities, youth programs

A community's responsibility for its young people does not end with the provision of external assets. Caring adults must make a similar commitment to nurturing the internal qualities that guide positive choices and foster a sense of confidence, passion, and purpose. Young people need this wisdom to make responsible decisions about the present and future.  The framework includes four categories of internal assets:

  • Commitment to learning - Young people need to develop a lifelong commitment to education and learning.
  • Positive values - Young people need to develop strong values that guide their choices. 
  • Social competencies - Young people need skills and competencies that equip them to make positive choices, to build relationships, and to succeed in life.
  • Positive identity - Young people need a strong sense of their own power, purpose, worth, and promise.

One of the most innovative and concrete ways of building the 20 internal Developmental Assets is through social and emotional learning. There is a growing body of research, including Alaskan data, that shows an association between positive school climate and connectedness and academic achievement and reduced risk behaviors. When students feel safe, connected and engaged in their schools, they are more successful and effective learners, and exhibit fewer risk behaviors. (For research on the connection between school climate and academic success, please refer to the research section of this site).

School climate refers to factors that contribute to the tone and attitudes of staff and students in school. Positive school climate is associated with well-managed classrooms and common areas, high and clearly stated expectations concerning individual responsibility, feeling safe at school, and teachers and staff that consistently acknowledge all students and fairly address their behavior.

School connectedness refers to students' school experiences and their perceptions and feelings about school. This includes feeling that they are a part of the school, that adults at school care about them personally, that their learning matters and is a high priority, that they are close to people at school and have supportive relationships with adults, and that teachers and staff consistently treat them with respect.

School climate is related to school connectedness, because without a positive and welcoming school climate, students are unlikely to experience connectedness. Research has found that the most powerful predictors of school connectedness are related to school climate (e.g., Abbott et al, 1998). Climate can be thought of as external assets (things outside of students that predict, indicate, or promote connectedness) whereas connectedness can be thought of as internal assets (students' feelings, perceptions, and beliefs).

Social and emotional learning (SEL) involves processes through which children and adults develop fundamental emotional and social competencies to recognize and manage emotions, develop caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively. These skills, for example, allow children to calm themselves when angry, initiate friendships and resolve relationship conflicts respectfully, and make ethical and safe choices.

To best develop these capacities, children need to experience safe, nurturing, and well-managed environments where they feel valued and respected; they need meaningful interactions with socially and emotionally competent others; and they need positive and specific guidance. Thus, SEL takes place within the context of safe school, family, and community environments that support children's development and provide opportunities and recognition for successfully applying these competencies.

Back to Top

Assessment & Evaluations

Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB's) School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS): School districts that are intentionally focusing on both academic and school climate issues are seeing success. Many of them are using the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB's) School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) to collect data that allows them to target specific aspects of climate and connectedness. For more information click here.

CASEL Practice Rubric for Schoolwide SEL Implementation: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) provides a practice rubric for both learning about Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and assessment. It will help your school understand where your current activities fit into broader schoolwide change and how to take SEL to the next level. The rubric is designed for use by principals and their SEL planning teams, but can be adapted for district level use.

SEL Implementation Guide and Toolkit: The purpose of outcome evaluation is to determine if your SEL program and associated schoolwide SEL practices are having a positive impact on students.

SEL School Self-Assessment Guide: Learn more about a self-assessment guide to determine what your school is doing to foster social and emotional learning.

Back to Top


American Institutes: Review the 9/18/07 American Institutes For Research report on School Climate and Connectedness and Student Achievement.

CASEL Update: A December 2007 study reveals that students who participate in school-based programs focused on social and emotional learning (SEL) profit in multiple ways, including increases in achievement test scores and school grades.

Social-Skills Programs Found to Yield Gains in Academic Subjects: A forthcoming research review offers some counterintuitive advice for educators: Take time out of the curriculum to teach students to manage their emotions and to practice empathy, caring, and cooperation-and their academic achievement could improve in the bargain.

Boosting Student Achievement: Studies suggest that Developmental Assets play a significant role in students' academic achievement across a wide range of students. In fact, Developmental Assets appear to have as much or more influence on student achievement as other demographic factors and school reform strategies. Thus, building Developmental Assets has great promise as a strategy for boosting student achievement.

Untapped Power of Schools to Improve the Health of Teens

Back to Top


Curriculum/Skills trainings

Aggression Replacement Training (ART) - Ages 12-17. Aggression Replacement Training® (ART®) is a multimodal psychoeducational intervention designed to alter the behavior of chronically aggressive adolescents and young children. The goal of ART® is to improve social skill competence, anger control, and moral reasoning. The program incorporates three specific interventions: skill-streaming, anger-control training, and training in moral reasoning. For more information about ART® as delivered through the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice contact Rob Seward or Chris Agloinga.

SECOND STEP violence prevention program integrates academics with social and emotional learning. Kids from preschool through Grade 8 learn and practice vital social skills, such as empathy, emotion management, problem solving, and cooperation.

The Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP): RCCP is a k-12 program in character education and social and emotional learning. First developed as an initiative of the New York City Public Schools and Educators for Social Responsibility's (ESR) New York City chapter, ESR Metro, RCCP now serves more than 400 schools in 16 urban, suburban, and rural school districts across the Nation. RCCP is characterized by a comprehensive, multiyear strategy for preventing violence and creating caring and peaceable communities of learners. RCCP helps children and young people develop skills to reduce violence and prejudice, form caring relationships and build healthy lives. The comprehensive RCCP model includes professional development for teachers and school support staff, classroom instruction, student leadership opportunities for students as peer mediators or peer educations, and workshops for parents and caregivers.

Ripple Effects develops, supports and continually tests an integrated set of technology-oriented products to reduce injury, increase academic success, and strengthen pro-social behavior among children and the adults who work with them. Ripple Effects For Kids; Ripple Effects for Teens; Ripple Effects for Staff

SEL Programming Guides - Safe and Sound: Based on a three-year study funded by the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) in the U.S. Department of Education, Safe and Sound is the most comprehensive and inclusive guide to SEL programming available. This guide provides a road map for schools and districts that are launching or adding social, emotional, and academic learning programs. The guide reviews 80 multiyear, sequenced SEL programs designed for use in general education classrooms. Safe and Sound also offers guidance to educational leaders on how to integrate typically isolated or fragmented SEL efforts with other school activities and academic instruction by providing a framework for "putting the pieces together."

Michigan Model for Health® is the nationally acclaimed school health education program. It is currently being implemented in over 90% of Michigan's public schools and more that 200 private and charter schools. Through the Michigan Model ® , comprehensive school health now reaches over 30 states, foreign countries, universities and medical schools.

Reconnecting Youth is an indicated school-based program for youth in grades 9 to 12 (14 to 18 years of age) at risk for school dropout and exhibit multiple behavior problems. It uses a partnership model involving peers, school personnel, and parents to deliver interventions that address decreased drug involvement, increased school performance, and decreased emotional distress.

Back to Top


Helping Kids Succeed -Alaskan Style introduces the Developmental Assets Framework, developed by the Search Institute, to parents and adults who care about children and youth success in school and life.

The Handbook of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership: Inspiring Others to Achieve Results

Connected and Respected (Volume 1): Lessons from the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program, Grades K-2

Connected and Respected (Volume 2): Lessons from the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program, Grades 3-5

Working Toward Equity: Resources and Writings from the Teacher Research Collaborative

Teaching Kids to Care: Nurturing Character and Compassion

The Advisory Guide: Designing and Implementing Effective Advisory Programs in Secondary Schools

The George Lucas Foundation Edutopia staff has recently released three videos on their website that feature the SEL work at ASD: "Educating Hearts and Minds", "Cooperative Arithmetic", and "Smart Hearts".

Student-Centered Intervention

Websites of Interest

Alaska Department of Education & Early Development - School Health

Association of Alaska School Boards

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

Resiliency & Youth Development Program

Freshman Academics


Kodiak Initiative for Developing Safe Schools (KIDSS) - Sample School Climate and Behavior Planning document

Syllabus for Teacher Course SEL Skills

SEL STDs/Benchmarks for ASD

Supporting Youth: Learn how Alaska organizations are supporting youth asset building.

"Advisory Course" - Carol Lieber ESR Website

New Directions for Student Support: Current State of the Art


Kids These Days - Publication for people who care about Alaska's Kids! (Feb. 2008)

e-Kids These Days (Winter 2008)

Healthy Alaska Newsletter

Professional Development / Trainings


Martin Broken Leg Speaker April 2005

Dr. Richard Curwin - SDFS Assets Fair February 26, 2009


School Connectedness and Meaningful Student Participation

Change of Heart: Creating a More Caring School Climate

Responsive Classroom

Developing Capable People

Developing Capable People Workshops

SEL: Professional Inquiry / Syllabus

Back to Top

Parental Involvement

Alaska Native Parenting Resources

Speaking of Parenting: Introducing Developmental Assets to People Raising Kids-Scripts, Handouts, and Activities

Stories and Research on Family Digital Resource Center

Family Digital Resource Center

More Stories and Research

Websites for Parents and Educators

Early Childhood Education

Parenting and Family

Child development

Wellness and Nutrition

Child Advocacy

Family Support

Parent Education - Developing Capable People Program

Back to Top

Funding Possibilities

Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative

Back to Top

Contact Information

For further information regarding the areas referenced in this document, please contact:

Todd Brocious, Education Specialist
Telephone: (907) 465-2887

Back to Top