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Research has shown that a positive school climate plays a protective role in the social, emotional, and academic development of adolescent youth. Researchers have utilized variable centered measures to assess school climate, which is limited in capturing heterogeneous patterns of school climate. In addition, few studies have systematically explored the role of race and gender in perceived school climate. This study utilizes a latent class approach to assess whether there are discrete classes of school climate in a diverse statewide sample of middle and high school youth. Drawing from the 2009–2011 California Healthy Kids Survey, this study identified four latent classes of school climate: Some Caring, Connectedness, and Safe; Negative Climate; High Caring, Participation, and Safe; and Positive Climate. The findings indicated that race and grade level significantly predicted school climate class membership. Black students were three times more likely to be members of the negative school climate class, when compared to White students. Gender did not significantly predict school climate class membership. The results of this study provide school climate researchers and educators with a nuanced picture of school climate patterns among middle and high school students.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Children and Youth Services Review. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Children and Youth Services Review, volume 63, in 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.01.023

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