Here’s How to Capitalize on School Climate Transformation Grants

Violence and safety are on a growing list of concerns in schools. Principals are aware that traditional methods of dealing with challenges don’t work, and are actively seeking new methods and programs to help them get ahead of the numerous issues that contribute to school safety challenges. To tackle these problems, however, schools need resources that might not be readily available through conventional means and funding. The Department of Education recognized this need and, in response, created the School Climate Transformation Grants (SCTG) program.

These grants provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to Local Education Agencies (LEA) each year. The guidelines for the grants are intended to steer schools toward adopting programs that encourage a more positive school environment and assist in implementing frameworks with tiered support for students, like the Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) framework.

What is a School Climate Transformation Grant?

School Climate Transformation Grants—or SCTG—were created to provide special resources to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) with a need and desire to implement proactive and positive programs for their schools. These grants offer LEAs funding and access to resources to bring in expertise and train staff in methods proven to improve student behaviors and eliminate bullying.

Although amounts vary, School Climate Transformation Grants generally range in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a five-year grant. In 2014, twelve states and seventy-one LEAs received funding. In 2019, fourteen additional states received SCTGs.

Additionally, in 2019, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education in the US Department of Education has issued a new request for applications from LEAs looking to implement programs to offer a more positive school environment.

The grants require that the funds be used to implement a program that encourages positive behavior and offers support for students in need. Through the grants, LEAs have access to resources to set up an evidence-based, multi-tiered behavioral framework (MTBF).

Positive and proactive frameworks like Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) satisfy the grant requirements. More importantly, a proven framework like PBIS improves student outcomes and behaviors, which is the goal of the school climate transformation grants.

PBIS alone can make a significant difference to schools beginning their journey to proactive behavioral support measures. Adding in additional components, such as Social and Emotional Learning, which pairs well with PBIS, can enhance the success of a school’s program and makes the most use of the SCTG.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Support and SCTG

Proactive and positive behavior programs let principals guide their schools in a new direction that enriches the learning environment and improves the overall safety of students and staff. PBIS is a well-studied and proven framework for achieving that goal. That’s why PBIS is the framework that a school climate transformation grants offer the most support for.

PBIS is based on a set of tiers. Each tier represents a different set of needs and interventions for a student population. While most students needs and direction can be addressed in the bottom-most tier, the second and third tiers exist to support students with greater needs. This ensures children across the spectrum of experience get the support needed to be productive members of the school community.

SEL—or Social and Emotional Learning—ties in well with the implementation of PBIS. SEL is an approach that helps students learn and apply a number of day-to-day skills that will help them in school and later in life. This evidence-based approach teaches students things like goal achievement, emotional recognition and management, relationship building, and empathy, among others.

The challenge for many schools is the lack of time and funds to effectively implement frameworks like PBIS and SEL. These programs require staff training and benefit from technical assistance for a successful implementation. With a school climate transformation grant, LEAs provide schools with the resources and opportunities to correctly and completely move to an evidence-based positive behavior framework, including measurement, implementation support, and assessment.

Leveraging an SCTG for Effective Implementation of PBIS and SEL

To receive a grant, an LEA must commit to working with a technical assistance provider to make the changes needed in adopting PBIS or another evidence-based, multi-tiered behavioral framework. Through the grant, LEAs have access to the PBIS Technical Assistance Center, which is funded by the Department of Education.

These grants assist schools in implementing a behavioral framework because these programs require educators and staff to roll out the program for the greatest chance of success. A structured roll-out of PBIS requires schools to first determine the right program for their implementation. Next, the infrastructure for the plan must be put in place, including data systems for information collection and analysis. Pilot programs allow LEAs to test out their defined implementation before expanding it, and lastly, the program is adopted across the educational ecosystem.

Likewise, adding SEL into the program requires time and commitment. Most frequently, failed implementations of SEL are due to a lack of time. Implementing SEL as a day-to-day practice, and defining its use as part of a tiered framework implementation, creates supportive school structures and positive long-term student outcomes, enhancing the already required multi-tiered program as part of the school climate transformation grant.

Rolling out these frameworks in a structured manner sets up schools for arguably the most important piece—measurement and analysis. No matter the framework used, schools need tools to capture data on the effectiveness of the program and on how it’s working with individual students. These pieces are key to continuous improvement and getting students the proper support at the right tiers.

A School Climate Transformation Grant from the Department of Education makes it possible for an LEA to implement evidence-based frameworks that might otherwise be outside of the available resources of the agency. Installing a framework like PBIS and SEL are proven ways that schools can improve safety, student behaviors and outcomes, and the overall school climate. Putting these programs in place, however, requires planning, evaluation, training, the right tools, support, and commitment—all things made possible through the use of the grant. With a proactive and positive behavior program in place, principals have a toolset for improving the school environment and safety and reducing violence.

ScholarChip offers a solution called Alternative Behavior Educator (ABE). This innovative program enables counselors to identify, monitor, and improve student behavior throughout a student’s career, while giving administrators and teachers powerful data-driven reports that quickly flag at-risk students, help monitor and chronicle progress, and support decision-making tasks. ​The ScholarChip system incorporates the complete spectrum of behavior and integrates student rewards, interventions, and tracking with PowerSchool®, Infinite Campus, and other popular SIS platforms.

To learn how ScholarChip can help keep your schools safer and more secure, learn more about the many solutions ScholarChip provides, or to get free recommendations, feel free to contact one of our specialists today!