Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Benerd School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Amy Scott

First Committee Member

Dr. Amy Scott

Second Committee Member

Dr. Justin Low

Third Committee Member

Dr. Amanda Sharpe


The return to in-person schooling post-COVID-19 pandemic has brought increased pressure on educators to ensure academic success for students. This study examines the school climate of 40 elementary and middle schools in California's Central Valley and its impact on academic performance and attendance, comparing pre-pandemic (2018-2019) with post-pandemic (2021-2022 and 2022-2023) data. Additionally, the study explores the influence of positive student-teacher relationships on academic outcomes and chronic absenteeism. Utilizing the PLUS School Climate Survey, this research sought to identify significant differences in survey scores pre- and post-pandemic, as well as examining the predictive power of student-teacher connectedness on academic performance and chronic absenteeism. This research found statistically significant differences among 6th-8th grade students regarding perceptions of school connectedness throughout the years. There was a significant increase from the 2019-2020 to 2021-2022 school years followed by a significant decrease from 2021-2022 to the 2022-2023 school year. The 2019-2020 and 2022-2023 school year data on school connectedness was not significant. Results also indicate there was a significant positive relationship between students and teachers and their academic performance. In the 2022-2012 school year, when the students had a positive view of their relationship with teachers and staff at school, the student’s ELA and math scores increased. This analysis also examined the relationship between the student’s relationship with teachers and their chronic absenteeism. There were not statistically significant results. These findings aim to provide insights for educational stakeholders to implement targeted interventions to improve school climate and enhance student success amidst post-pandemic challenges.