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About S3

The California Department of Education (CDE) was one of eleven State Education Agencies that received four-year grants from the US Department of Education in 2010-11 to participate in a Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) Initiative. CDE funded 58 high schools to be part of this effort based on need, as identified by California Healthy Kids Survey data. The project framework provides a model for districts in developing and implementing their Local Control and Accountability Plans.

At baseline (2011), two-thirds of grantee schools scored below the state median Academic Performance Index (API) score. On average, 80% of students were non-white and two-thirds were eligible for free/reduced-price meals. By the end of the 2014 school year, CalS3 schools overall recorded a statistically significant 29-point gain on the SCI with a strong effect size of .71. Stating the SCI scores as California state percentiles, they grew from the 21st percentile at baseline to the 42nd percentile in the last funding year.

In addition, the overall API test scores increased by 15 points between 2011 and 2013, from 689 to 704. Of the one-quarter of schools that had the biggest improvements in their SCI (n=15), 67% (10 schools) increased their API by 14 to 57 points.


The goals for the California’s S3 program were to:

  • Improve conditions for learning, including school climate and safety, in high schools with the greatest need.
  • Integrate school climate reform into schoolwide academic improvement efforts.
  • Build local district and school capacity to implement data-driven school improvements.
  • Establish a comprehensive and sustainable model for school climate improvement to guide school and district efforts.

The Programmatic Framework

Each grantee was required to meet the following six components that constitute the overall framework. However, similar to the LCAP process, central to that framework was the requirement that each engage in a stakeholder-driven process that required assessing their specific needs and engaging in data-driven action planning to address those needs through evidence-based programs and practices. Thus, while many schools implemented many of the same programs, there were also significant differences among the grantees. Read the stories from the field to learn more about what each did to improve academic achievement and student well-being.

  • Create a School Climate Team of representative stakeholders (administrators, teachers, students, parents) to take the lead in guiding the program and fostering a schoolwide commitment to making a positive school climate a key component of school improvement plans.
  • Assess and monitor needs with Cal-SCHLS assessments of students, staff, and parents and use the results to identify needs and guide action planning that address those needs;
  • Implement evidence-based programs to meet the identified needs;
  • Implement universal youth-development supports (foster caring relations, high expectations, and meaningful participation) and involvement strategies, including conducting Student Listening Circles.
  • Implement targeted interventions for high-risk populations (e.g. Multi-Tiered System of Supports).
  • Engage parents and community.

Data Collection and the School Climate Index

California’s participating school districts collected baseline data through the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey (Cal-SCHLS) system. CHKS results and truancy data were used to calculate a school climate index. The SCI was instrumental in identifying schools with the greatest need for programmatic intervention grant funds and was used in the annual assessment of grantee progress. It was incorporated in a School Climate Report Card that each received annually. Click here to find the S3 grantee schools’ School Climate Report Card incorporating its SCI.

S3 Evaluation Reports

The following evaluation reports review the state’s annual progress toward initiative goals and objectives. The 2013-14 report reviews baseline-to-final year School Climate Index score changes with comparisons to non-funded schools, as well as formative outcomes from site visit reviews. The combined results strongly indicate the success of the S3 program in improving elements of school climate for the funded schools as a whole. See also the Lessons Learned What Works Briefs.


In addition to the products and tools developed for use of the grantees that are posted elsewhere on this website, the following were produced.

Technical Assistance, Support & Training

Funded schools received (at no cost) a variety of technical assistance to help them understand their survey results, determine strategies and best practices to identify pressing needs, and monitor progress in meeting those needs.