Playworks: Supporting Positive School Climate in Low-Income Elementary Schools

This brief is one in a series of final reports from the Study of Playworks Implementation in Eight Bay Area Schools. It examines the ways that Playworks supports positive school climate and reports students’, teachers’, and principals’ views of the program’s effects on the overall school environment. This brief builds on earlier study publications, including a literature review, a theory of change model, an interim report, and a final report.

Findings include:

  • Teachers in the three schools trained in early or mid‐fall were more likely to understand the program goals (86% compared to 75%) and were more likely to feel that the program addressed important needs and was valued by staff and students.
  • Nearly 80% of teachers surveyed in the spring reported an improvement in the amount of conflict on the play yard.
  • All of the principals reported fewer students being sent to the office during recess.
  • Nearly half of the teachers also reported less bullying at their schools since Playworks was implemented.  
  • Three‐quarters of teachers reported that students were better able to regulate their own behavior and positively affect the behavior of their classmates as a result of Playworks.

Early staff training (in the first few weeks of the program) was a key contributor to successful program implementation and should be a requirement for schools who adopt the program. Playworks had the hardest time influencing school climate at schools that were trained later or not at all, in schools with coach turnover, and in classrooms where teachers were less engaged with the coach and the program.