Schools have a considerable influence on children’s development, through proximal factors such as teachers and curriculum, but also through indirect effects of school policies. Although some policies and programs have the potential to increase stress and burden on students, educators, as well as the broader educational context, several programs have demonstrated a positive impact on the school environment. This article considers the role of some educational policies, programs, and activities related to discipline and teacher behavior, which together influence the school environment. Programs that set high expectations for student performance, healthy social-emotional learning, and positive behavior support are highlighted, due in part to rigorous research demonstrating both their broad reach and their impact on a range of learning and positive behavioral outcomes. Despite the potential significance of policies on the learning environment, there has been limited systematic research documenting the impact of policies on the school environment more broadly. This article concludes by identifying some areas for future study.
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