Methods. We searched multiple academic databases, the Directory of Open Access Journals, and Google Scholar. Search terms included “School Climate” or “School Environment” or “School Culture” or "Educational Environment” and a list of LMICs as defined by the World Bank. Peer reviewed articles were included if they presented data from one or more LMICs, and specified school climate as the independent variable and a student academic or behavioral outcome as the dependent variable. Five reviewers completed a two-stage review process, with inclusion decisions at title/abstract review based on majority consensus and at full text based on agreement by two reviewers. Data extraction included variables related to measurement of school climate, evidence regarding the impact of school climate on student outcomes, and study quality.
Results. Forty-three articles were included for the review. Preliminary results suggest lack of consensus around what constitutes school climate or how to measure school climate, but that associations with academic and behavioral health outcomes are relatively consistent across studies. There appeared to be an increased focus on school resources and the physical environment than is often included in school climate research in high income countries. Many of the most methodologically rigorous studies relied on nationally representative data from multi-national studies (e.g., TIMSS, PISA) for which only limited data pertaining to school climate was included, whereas studies that assessed school climate in more detail tended to be less generalizable, often geographically limited to a single city or region within a country, and of lower quality. Major methodological limitations included a preponderance of cross-sectional data, failure to account for clustering of data, and use of convenience samples with little ability to evaluate representativeness.
Conclusions. Additional research to understand differences and similarities in how school climate is conceptualized across diverse contexts is sorely needed, as is development and dissemination of validated cross-cultural measures of school climate.