Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

To close achievement gap, US must address major health risks for urban minority youth, study finds

Date:
March 23, 2010
Source:
Teachers College, Columbia University
Summary:
A meta-study has identified seven health issues that work together to hold children back. They are: poor eyesight, skipped breakfasts, bullying, teen pregnancy, asthma, lack of physical activity and hyperactivity. Researchers say all seven must be addressed together in order to close the achievement gap.

"Educationally relevant health disparities" are key drivers of the achievement gap, "but they are largely overlooked," said Charles Basch, the Richard March Hoe Professor of Health Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

"Over the past several decades, a variety of strategies have been tried to help close the achievement gap -- standards, accountability, NCLB, more rigorous teacher certification -- and they're all important, but they won't have the desired effect unless students are ready and motivated to learn."

Basch recently released a meta-study, "Healthier Students Are Better Learners," which focuses on seven health risks that disproportionately impair the academic performance of urban minority youth.

At the College's Cowin Conference Center on March 9, Basch presented his findings and then discussed them with respondents Matthew Yale, Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; and TC alumnus Howell Wechsler, Director of the Division of Adolescent School Health (DASH) for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The event, presented by TC's Campaign for Educational Equity, was moderated by Jane Quinn, Assistant Executive Director for Community Schools for the Children's Aid Society.

Basch, whose study pulls together research from over 300 sources, called the health crisis for the nation's youth "staggering." Among the statistics he cited:

  • Visual problems affect more than 20 percent of American youth
  • Asthma affects more than 14 percent of youth under 18
  • One in three teens is expected to become pregnant
  • Twenty-eight percent of adolescents have been bullied at school
  • Two in three students don't get enough physical activity
  • 20 percent of youth skip breakfast on any given day.
  • About 8 percent of youth ages 6-17 have been diagnosed with hyperactivity

And, Basch said, the situation is far worse for urban minority youth. Among the examples he gave:

  • Black children are significantly more likely to suffer from asthma, and certain populations within Latinos -- most notably Puerto Ricans -- are as well. Urban minority youth also have higher rates of poorly controlled asthma, as indicated by over-use of the emergency room and under-use of efficacious medicines.
  • Non-Hispanic black teens have pregnancy rates three times as high as whites, and rates for Hispanic teens are four times as high as for whites.
  • Nearly 10 percent of Hispanic youths missed one or more day of school in the past month because they were afraid -- a figure more than twice as high as for whites. Rates for blacks were more than 50 percent higher than for whites.

"All of this is old news," Basch said. What's new, he said, is research on how these conditions work together to impair educational outcomes. The combined effect of the seven is synergistic, he said, creating a crisis that is more than the sum of its parts.

So what must happen to change that picture?

"The most important thing is not do just one thing," Basch said. "Instead, we must address a set of priorities simultaneously."

The country needs a national school health strategic plan, Basch said. Yet because education in America is so decentralized, planning must also go on at the local level. Health related measures must be integrated into school accountability mechanisms, and health goals must become part of individual school improvement plans.

For his part, Yale -- who previously worked with Duncan in Chicago -- said coordination between government agencies on health issues has been improving, as evidenced in particular by the federal response to last year's H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak. That effort brought together USDOE, CDC, the U.S Department of Agriculture and others, with education officials helping to write CDC guidelines.

"I don't think we're siloed anymore," he said.

Yale also cited other indicators that the Obama administration is focused on health. These included First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now up for reauthorization containing an additional $41 million for an initiative focused on healthier schools.

Wechsler, a former student of Basch's, called Basch's findings "insightful and clearly compelling. People in the health fields are often asked 'where's the evidence'" of the need for prioritizing health spending, he said, but Basch's data will enable them to "turn the tables on policymakers."

"Two decades ago, politicians decided to cut back on physical education on the assumption that less time in the gym meant more time in the classroom. Where was the evidence for that?" The results, he said, "threaten to sap the economic competitiveness of our country" and have led to "an epidemic of obesity.

Basch is an expert on behavioral epidemiology, health education program planning and evaluation, and urban and minority populations. He has conducted major evaluations of health interventions among low-income urban minority populations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Teachers College, Columbia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Teachers College, Columbia University. "To close achievement gap, US must address major health risks for urban minority youth, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323184613.htm>.
Teachers College, Columbia University. (2010, March 23). To close achievement gap, US must address major health risks for urban minority youth, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323184613.htm
Teachers College, Columbia University. "To close achievement gap, US must address major health risks for urban minority youth, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323184613.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins