Published Date: September 09, 2019

A positive school climate is associated with both adolescent well-being and higher academic achievement. Feelings of school connectedness, civic engagement, and school discipline practices can all contribute to a positive school climate. This policy brief examines the association of school discipline practices with feelings of school connectedness and civic engagement.


  • Adolescents attending schools with high suspension rates reported lower levels of school connectedness and of volunteering.
  • Greater feelings of school connectedness were associated with greater perceived safety at school, more volunteering, and fewer sick days.
  • Latino teens and teens from low-income families reported lower levels of school connectedness, had lower rates of volunteering, and were more likely to attend a school with high suspension rates.

Healthy youth development could be promoted through supporting strategies that improve school climates by increasing school connectedness, encouraging participation in civic activities (such as volunteering), and reducing suspension rates. 

This study uses 2015-2017 California Health Interview Survey data. 

Publication Authors:
  • Susan H. Babey, PhD
  • Joelle Wolstein, PhD, MPP, MA
  • Tara Becker, PhD
  • AJ Scheitler, Ed.D.