School Social Work and School-Wide Change: Utilization of Practice Tasks Related to Enhancing School Climate
Methods: The project examines data collected from social workers practicing in schools as part of the Texas School Social Work Survey (TSSWS). The TSSWS is an exploratory, mixed method survey that gathered data from 177 school social workers in Texas public schools. The respondents were asked to indicate if they participated in eight task categories with 45 specific practice tasks related to empirically validated dimensions of school climate. The analysis utilized descriptive statistics to understand the prevalence of the participation in the practice tasks. A hierarchical cluster analysis was used to group the school social workers with similar response patterns for the practice task variables. ANOVA tests were used to assess differentiation between clusters and for a series of post-hoc analyses to profile the clusters by school social worker characteristics.
Results: The school social workers responded overwhelmingly that they do perform tasks related to building a positive school climate. Descriptive statistics revealed that 93% of the school social workers participated in at least one of eight practice categories related to school climate dimensions and 77% participated in at least four of the eight. The cluster analysis yielded a solution that grouped the participants into four clusters. Once the clusters were profiled, three of the 16 school social worker characteristics were found to significantly relate to the completion of tasks associated with school climate: perception of autonomy, job structure and years of experience.
Implications: The results show widespread use of practice skills that target multiple dimensions of school climate. The findings lend support to the feasibility of participating in school climate related tasks across school settings and school social worker characteristics. Furthermore, it demonstrates real-world implementation of skills associated with building a positive school climate and, thus, facilitating school-wide change as part of school social work practice.