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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Students take academic hit when a slaying is close to their home

Perhaps an answer for those who believe that students in urban schools don't perform as well as students in suburban or rural schools:
Neighborhood homicides can have a detrimental effect on Chicago schoolchildren's academic performance, whether they witness the violence or not, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Using Chicago crime reports and the reading and vocabulary assessments of a sample of Chicago children, sociologist Patrick Sharkey of New York University found African-American children scored substantially lower on reading and vocabulary tests within a week of a homicide in their neighborhood.

The effect on performance was seen regardless of whether the children were physically harmed, were witnesses to the crime or had merely heard about the violence, the study reported.

"The impact of violence is not limited to those victimized or those who directly witness an act of violence but is felt by children across a community who live in close proximity to extreme violent events," Sharkey said.

The study did not examine what specifically caused children to get lower scores, but research on how children react to stress points to reduced concentration, inability to focus and sleep disturbances.
I'll be waiting for that study that does examine the specifics of what causes young school students to get lower scores on standardized exams. Obviously something is going on here it could be the violence in their neighborhoods or it could be some other factor. Someday we'll find out what that factor is.

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