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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Sarah A. Fefer

Subject Categories

Education | School Psychology


High school is a unique period of time within students' educational careers where there are an increasing number of variables that can facilitate or impede their academic, social-emotional, and behavioral success. Previous research has demonstrated strong effects of school climate, or the quality of school life and experiences within the school building, on factors including students' academic performance, motivation to learn, and attendance. In addition, school climate has been negatively correlated with drop out rates as well as other short and long term negative outcomes for students. The purpose of this study was to examine student perceptions of school climate in grades 9-12 in two public school districts, and to investigate how factors including participant demographic characteristics as well as discipline history and discipline practices are able to predict perceptions of climate. Participants (N=856) completed the Delaware School Climate Survey (Bear, Yang, Mantz, et al., 2014). Discipline history was measured by asking each student to report how many times they have been sent to the office, given a detention, and the number of days that they have been suspended during one school year. Lastly, the present study assessed student perceptions of implementation of core components of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), which is an evidence-based framework to inform school discipline practices. Students were asked about their perception of whether they feel core components of PBIS are in place in their school buildings. Using linear regression, the number of times that a student reported being sent to the office, and the total number of discipline infractions reported, were shown to significantly predict perceptions of school climate. Additionally, PBIS implementation was found to be a significant moderator of both of these relationships. Thus, students who reported more frequent discipline infractions also reported more negative perceptions of school climate unless they perceived that PBIS was in place in their school. Significant differences in perceptions of school climate by gender, race, and grades received during one school year were also found. Limitations of the study, implications for the field, and future directions will also be discussed.