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Schools play a key role in child and youth development as both social microcosms of the broader society and reciprocally influencing people and communities. As such, schools can function as a protective factor that promotes safety, motivation, relationships, and support for positive student outcomes. However, schools may also function as a risk factor with inflexible bureaucratic structures that employ harsh and exclusionary discipline that contributes to negative outcomes. This chapter discusses schools as a social institution by examining the student-, teacher-, and building-level predictors of academic and social and emotional success, as well as schools as a locus for preventive interventions.
School Influences on Child and Youth
David Osher, Kimberly Kendziora, Elizabeth Spier, & Mark L. Garibaldi
American Institutes for Research
A Historical View of the Function and
Organization of the School as a Social Institution
Schools have played a key role in youth development throughout American
history, both serving as social microcosms of the broader society and reciprocally
influencing people and communities (Kidron & Osher, in press; Rury, 2002).
Schools are both affected by and affect family and community outcomes
(Coleman, 1966, 1988; Baum, Ma, & Payea, 2010). Educational events have often
become cultural milestones, such as the contested integration of schools following
Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka in 1954, the establishment of Head
Start in 1965, and the mandate to provide a free and appropriate education to all
students through the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975.
Education policy and practices have been often controversial, including the
opposition to compulsory education by many members of ethnic minority
In more recent years, the influences of public accountability for the
achievement of all subgroups of students under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) the
expansion of charter schools and school choice initiatives, and the special focus on
persistently low-performing schools under Race to the Top have influenced not
only how communities engage with their school systems but also the kinds of
educational outcomes students attain. These recent influences appear to have had
some paradoxical effects. On one hand, one unanticipated consequence of NCLB
has been a narrowing of the curricula to focus on tested subjects (e.g.,
mathematics, reading) and a de-emphasis on support for students’ social
development (Center for Educational Policy, 2007; Morton & Dalton, 2007). On
the other hand, NCLB has mandated the reporting of disaggregated data, which
allows the public to see the consequences of not addressing student support and
the conditions for learning for traditionally underserved groups. This had led to
increasing calls for a focus on the whole child and student support.
The importance of schools to youth development was emphasized by John
Dewey and is well-specified in life course/social field theory (Kellam, Branch,
Agrawal, & Ensminger, 1975). In this perspective, one or more main social fields
are critically important in each stage of life, and in each social field there are
2 School Influences on Child and Youth Development
defined social task demands. Success or failure in regard to social roles is marked
by the adequacy of behavioral responses of each individual to the specific social
task demands faced within each main social field at each stage of life. The social
task demands are defined by, and the adequacy of responses are rated by, natural
raters, such as parents in the family, teachers in the classroom, or significant peers
in the peer group. Not only the individual’s performance, but also chance and the
fit of the individual in the social context play roles in success or failure.
Aggression, academic problems, and other early antecedents to problem outcomes
must be viewed, therefore, as residing not merely in the child, but also as the
social fields of family, school, and community.
Within the social field of the school, students confront major developmental
challenges, negotiate group and intergroup social relationships, and acquire (or
fail to acquire) important capacities that may enable them to thrive (Cairns &
Cairns, 1994). From the perspective of risk and protection, schools may function
as a protective factor, creating a safe harbor, offering both challenge and a sense
of mission, fostering positive relationships with adults and peers, developing
competencies and a sense of efficacy, and providing students with access to social
capital, mental health supports and leadership opportunities. Unfortunately,
schools may also be stressful places that function as a risk factor, as youth adapt
their behaviors to relatively inflexible bureaucratic structures and adult-driven
demands within a high-stakes environment (e.g., Eccles & Midgely, 1989).
Instead of safe harbors, schools can expose students to physical and emotional
violence, boredom, alienation, academic frustration, negative relationships with
adults and peers, teasing, bullying, gangs, humiliation and failure, harsh
punishment, and expulsion from the school community and its resources.
In this chapter, we examine schools as a social institution, examining relevant
student-, teacher-, and building-level characteristics that are particularly salient to
prevention scientists. We also briefly describe schools as a locus for preventive
Student-Level Predictors of Academic and Social
A plethora of developmental research addresses student-level competencies and
academic achievement. In this section, we review those student-level variables
that interact with individual students’ social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral
competencies: (a) cognitive skills, (b) self-regulation, and (c) social and emotional
Cognitive/Learning Skills
The central importance of cognitive skills for academic achievement cannot be
ignored. Using well-established IQ tests that are culturally and linguistically
appropriate, the magnitude of reported concurrent IQ-achievement correlations is
School Influences on Child and Youth Development 35
consistently in the range of .60 to .80 (Sattler & Dumont, 2004; Watkins, Lei, &
Canivez, 2007). The strength of this association is among the strongest reported
across all fields of psychology.
Intelligence, however, is understood to be a multifaceted trait that can be
strongly influenced by the environment. The specific cognitive skills involved in
learning (although there are many diverse models and lists) generally consist of
attention, perception, memory, and reasoning. As students get older, problem
solving, higher order and critical thinking, and analysis and synthesis skills also
become important for postsecondary success. Additionally, metacognition refers
to awareness of, and the exertion of active control over, the specific cognitive
functions associated with learning (Kuhn, 2000; Nelson & Narens, 1994).
Teaching practices congruent with a metacognitive approach to learning include
those that focus on sense-making, self-assessment, and reflection on what worked
and what needs improving. Sense-making in particular can be subjective and
culture bound, but understanding the way students make sense of things can help
them break through achievement barriers. Metacognitive teaching practices have
been shown to increase the degree to which students transfer their learning to new
settings and events (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999; Wirkala, & Kuhn,
Children who are raised in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods start
kindergarten with significantly lower cognitive skills than do middle-class
children (Lee & Burkam, 2002; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). Before starting
school, the average cognitive score of children in the highest SES group is 60%
higher than that of children in the lowest group. Socioeconomic status is by far the
most powerful factor influencing the results of tests of cognitive skills. Factors
that affect this include family educational expectations, exposure to language and
reading, child care quality, computer use, and television habits (e.g., Hart &
Risley, 1995). However, high-quality early childhood education for poor children
does produce long-lasting improvements in students’ academic success, (Barnett,
Heckman, in a series of econometric studies, has demonstrated the importance
of what he conceptualizes as “non-cognitive” factors such as personality traits,
persistence, motivation, and charm in determining school and labor market
outcomes (Borghans, Duckworth, Heckman, & Weel, 2008; Heckman, &
Rubinstein, 2001; Heckman, Stixrud, & Urzua, 2006). One critical noncognitive
factor for student outcomes is self-regulation, which involves the management of
emotions and emotion-related behaviors, focusing attention, planning and
problem-solving, and delay of gratification (Barkley, 1997; Casey et al., 2011;
Eisenberg et al., 1997; Hoyle & Bradfield, 2010; Kochanska, Murray, & Coy,
1997). Students who show positive self-regulation are able to demonstrate
persistence and attention to tasks, and are able to manage their emotions in a way
4 School Influences on Child and Youth Development
that allows them to benefit from a collaborative classroom environment (e.g.,
handling corrective feedback on their performance from a teacher, successfully
resolving disagreements with peers). Students who have difficulty managing
negative emotions early on are especially likely to suffer later behavior problems
compared with peers (Eisenberg, et al., 2005).
Empirical evidence supports a positive relationship between self regulation and
academic outcomes. For example, Fantuzzo et al. (2007) found that 8.8% of
variance in early mathematics was uniquely predicted by children’s ability to
regulate their behavior. McClelland et al. (2007) found that not only was
behavioral regulation positively related to early academic achievement, but that
growth in behavioral regulation during the course of a preschool year predicted
growth in children’s school readiness in three areas important to cognitive
One special application of self regulation is the concept of grit (Duckworth,
Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007; Duckworth & Quinn, 2009), which is defined
as       
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School Influences on Child and Youth Development 35
Social and Emotional Learning
Social and emotional learning (SEL; Zins & Elias, 2006) refers to the process
of developing the cognitive and emotional capacities to recognize and manage
emotions, solve problems effectively, and establish positive relationships with
others. SEL involves acquiring and effectively applying the knowledge, attitudes,
and skills necessary allow children to calm themselves when angry, make friends,
resolve conflicts respectfully, and make ethical and safe choices (CASEL,
2007).A growing body of research has demonstrated that programs teaching SEL
promotes positive development among children and youth, reduces problem
behaviors, and improves academic performance, citizenship, and health-related
behaviors (CASEL, 2007; Durlak et al., 2011).
Teacher-Level Predictors of Academic and Social
Although teachers often work in isolated classrooms, many exogenous factors
affect their behavior. Key factors discussed here include pre-service training and
public policy. Pre-service training has been criticized for failing to prepare
teachers to manage classrooms, serve diverse learners or collaborate with families
(Osher, Coggshall, Colombi, & Woodruff, in press). Public policy effectively caps
the amount of resources for hiring and paying teachers, which may contribute to
large class sizes and constrain the capacity of teachers to differentiate instruction
and support (Finn & Achilles, 1999). Similarly, high student-teacher ratios
directly and indirectly affect the willingness and ability of teachers to collaborate
with families outside of school (Cirone, 1997).
Teachers’ high expectations and sense of responsibility for student academic
achievement influence positive student outcomes (Gooddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2010;
Hinnant O’Brien, & Ghazarian, 2009; Pederson, Faucher, & Eaton, 1978) and
enable the implementation of student-centered approaches (Bryk & Schneider,
2002; Osher, Sandler, & Nelson, 2001). Teachers who are themselves socially and
emotionally competent can encourage prosocial communication among students,
create a positive climate (Brackett, Katulak, Kremenitzer, Alster, & Caruso,
2008), and influence student conduct, engagement, connectedness to school, and
academic performance (Hawkins, 1997; Schaps, Battistich, & Solomon, 1997,
2004; Sutton & Wheatley, 2003; Wentzel, 2002). Alternatively, teachers whose
own social and emotional skills are poorer tend to experience greater stress and
burnout (Tsouloupas, Carson, Matthews, Grawitch, & Barber, 2010).
Community factors contribute to these teacher effects. Students in poorer
neighborhoods and communities are more likely to be served by teachers who are
lower-performing (Glazerman & Max, 2011) and teachers in these schools often
experience poorer conditions for teaching, which include higher student: teacher
rations, a lack of planning time, and little support for reaching out to families
(Duncan & Murnane, 2011).
6 School Influences on Child and Youth Development
In the following section, we examine one well-known teacher correlate of
student outcomes (training/experience) and two lesser-known indicators—
mindfulness and cultural competence—that are beginning to accrue research
evidence for its significance.
Teacher Training
Although researchers consistently demonstrate the overwhelming importance
of teachers for student outcomes (e.g., Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005), the
specific characteristics that make a teacher effective are vigorously debated.
Researchers examining measurable proxies of quality, such as certification,
academic degrees, and years of experience, have found that these bear some
relationship to student achievement, but the size of the effect is generally modest
(Ballou & Podgursky, 2000; Darling-Hammond, 2000; Darling-Hammond &
Youngs, 2002; Goldhaber & Brewer, 1999; 2005; U.S. Department of Education,
2002). Alternatively, teachers’ high verbal ability and content knowledge may be
more strongly related to student academic achievement than specialized training
on how to teach (e.g., student teaching, education course work; Ballou &
Podgursky, 2000; Finn, 1999).
In a meta-analysis of more than 100 studies of classroom management,
Marzano, Marzano, and Pickering (2003) found that “mental set” had the largest
effect on reductions in disruptive behavior (d = -1.3). The construct of mental set
is similar to Langer’s (1997) construct of “mindfulness,” which refers to “a
heightened sense of situational awareness and a conscious control over one’s
thoughts and behavior relative to that situation” (Marzano et al., 2003, p. 65). In
contrast, “mindlessness” is a state of “automatic pilot” where one operates with
little conscious awareness. Mindfulness also includes emotional objectivity.
Teachers who remain cool under pressure—for example, addressing disciplinary
issues in a “matter-of-fact” way without taking behaviors personally— are the
most effective classroom managers (Boles, Dean, Ricks, Short, & Wang, 2000;
Jennings & Greenberg, 2009; Kokkinos, 2006; Pines & Keinan, 2005). Research
shows that high levels of teacher stress and burnout are linked to perceived high
demands and low control in the job (Betoret, 2009; Santa-Virta, Solovieva, &
Theorell, 2007). Increasing mindfulness can increase perceptions of control.
To develop teachers’ skills for coping with stress, evidence-based social and
emotional learning programs like the RULER Approach (Recognizing,
Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions; Brackett et al.,
2008) and the Garrison Institute’s CARE (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience
in Education) provide training for teachers, administrators and students. Evidence
shows that RULER improves academic achievement, reduces student problem
behaviors, and creates a more positive climate (Reyes, Brackett, Rivers, Elbertson,
& Salovey, in press; Reyes et al., in press). CARE is a professional development
School Influences on Child and Youth Development 35
program that reduces stress and promotes improvements in teachers’ well-being,
motivational orientation/efficacy, and mindfulness, as well as improves teachers’
organizational, instructional, and emotional support for students (Jennings, 2011).
Evaluations of this program indicate that participating teachers report an improved
sense of well-being and the ability to provide effective social and emotional
support for students (Jennings, Snowberg, Coccia, & Greenberg, 2011),
particularly among teachers working in urban settings.
Cultural Competence
Cultural discontinuity between teachers and students, which includes a lack of
understanding of behavioral and learning styles, may contribute lower
expectations as well as to disproportionate rates of disciplinary referrals,
suspensions, and expulsions (Boykin, 1983; Gay, 2000; Skiba, Michael, Nardo, &
Peterson, 2000). These problems may be exacerbated by attribution biases and
what social psychologists conceptualize as aversive racism (Artiles, Kozleski,
Trent, Osher & Ortiz, 2010; Dovidio, Gaertner, & Pearson 2009). Cultural
competence, which involves the capacity to “step outside of our own framework”
(Harry, 1992, p.334) and to treat people individually while respecting and
acknowledging their cultural beliefs and values, has been suggested as key to
addressing the discontinuity (Osher, et al., 2004; Osher, et al., in press).
School-Level Predictors of Academic and Social
In this section, we briefly review selected building-level factors that influence
student development: conditions for learning, connectedness, and discipline.
School Climate and Conditions for Learning
“Conditions for learning” refer to those aspects of school climate that are
proximally related to learning and development. There are at least four conditions
for learning: (a) physical and emotional safety, (b) challenge and engagement, (c)
support for students and their connection to school, and (d) the social and
emotional competencies of students. These conditions can be facilitated by student
support, positive behavioral approaches, robust curricula, strong pedagogy, and
support for social and emotional learning (Osher, Dwyer, & Jimerson, 2005;
Osterman, 2000; Lee, Smith, Perry, & Smylie, 1999; Ryan & Patrick, 2001;
Thuen & Bru, 2009).
A National Research Council report (Bowman, Donovan, & Burns, 2001)
pointed out that “one of the most consistent findings in the early childhood
literature is that an emotionally warm and positive approach in learning situations
leads to constructive behavior in children.” Pianta and his colleagues (2008) have
shown that better emotional quality of classroom interactions positively predicts
8 School Influences on Child and Youth Development
growth in reading and math achievement from first through fifth grade. Starting
early is very important, but across all years of schooling, enhancing social and
emotional behaviors can have a strong impact on success in school and ultimately
in life (Zins, Bloodworth, Weissberg, & Walberg, 2004).
Conditions for learning are shaped by several characteristics, such as caring
and supportive interpersonal relationships (e.g., consistent acknowledgement of all
students, recognition for good work); student and adult social and emotional,
approaches to discipline (e.g., Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Supports,
Restorative Justice); opportunities for meaningful participation for students (e.g.,
student decision-making with classroom management), effective classroom
management practices; and high levels of academic and behavioral expectations
and support to realize them.(Osher, Sidana, & Kelly, 2008).
The literature concerning climate and conditions for learning shows an
association between level of school climate and academic achievement (e.g.,
Kendziora, Osher, & Chinen, 2008; Klem & Connell, 2004; Osher, Spier,
Kendziora, & Cai, 2009; Spier, Cai, & Osher, 2007; Spier, Cai, Osher, &
Kendziora, 2007). In addition, researchers have shown that regardless of the level
of school climate, improving school climate is associated with increases in student
performance in reading, writing, and mathematics (Osher et al., 2009).
Although conditions for learning vary among schools, they also are affected by
community factors. Students of color as well as economically disadvantaged
students are more likely to experience poorer conditions for learning and attend
schools with worse climates (Duncan & Murnane, 2011). For example, a cross-
sectional analysis of school climate data in Chicago found that African American
students reported poorer conditions for learning than other students, regardless of
their school lunch status (Kendziora et al., 2008).
School Connectedness
Connectedness denotes students’ school experiences and perceptions that
learning is important; their sense that teachers are respectful and supportive; and
feelings that other students and school personnel are safe, close, and united across
the school. In fact, longitudinal evidence suggests that school connectedness is the
second most salient predictor (family connectedness being the first) for protecting
adolescents from emotional distress, eating disorders, and suicidal ideation and
attempts (Blum, McNeely, & Rinehart, 2002; Cairns & Cairns, 1994; Goodenow,
1993; Resnick et al., 1997; Resnick Harris, & Blum, 1993).
Connections with adults (teachers, administrators) is strongly associated with
positive academic and social outcomes for students (Barber & Olsen, 2004;
Bergin & Bergin, 2009; Cornelius-White, 2007; Hamre & Pianta, 2003; Wu,
Hughes, & Kwok, 2010), as well as a reduction in dropout and delinquent
behaviors (Bernard, 2004; Colarossi & Eccles, 2003; Croninger & Lee, 2001;
Hughes, Cavell, & Jackson, 1999; Kesner, 2000; Kirby, 2001; Pianta, Hamre, &
Stuhlman, 2003). Students’ perceptions that teachers care about them are also
School Influences on Child and Youth Development 35
associated with their academic success and well-being (Barber & Oson, 1997;
Connell, Halpern-Felsher, Clifford, Crichlow, & Usinger, 1995; Hamre & Pianta,
2005; Wentzel & Wigfield, 1998).
School Discipline Practices
The approaches schools take to ensure compliance with behavioral expectations
matter for student outcomes. Although issues of school discipline have always
affected schools, since the spread of “zero tolerance” policies in the 1990s,
discipline policy has become more punitive, exclusionary, and pervasive (Hanson,
2005). These approaches to discipline have been linked to a range of negative
outcomes (Balfanz & Boccanfuso, 2007; Dishion & Dodge, 2005; Gottfredson,
Gottfredson, Payne, & Gottfredson, 2005; Gregory, Skiba, & Noguera, 2010;
Raffaele Mendez & Knoff, 2003; Skiba & Rausch, 2004, 2006). For example,
after following approximately 1 million Texas public school students for nearly
six years, Fabelo et al. (2011) found that expulsion from school significantly
increased the likelihood that a student would repeat a grade, not graduate, and/or
be adjudicated into the juvenile justice system.
Despite the availability of risk assessments to determine an appropriate level of
treatment (e.g., expulsion vs. counselor support) for individual delinquent
behavior, zero tolerance policies in schools result in the application of sanctions
regardless of the context or the student’s potential risk to others (Curwin &
Mendler, 1999). This is particularly salient for minorities and students with
emotional and behavioral disorders who are disproportionately suspended and
expelled from schools (Gregory et al., 2010; Morrison et al., 2001; Osher,
Morrison, & Bailey, 2003; Osher, Woodruff, & Sims, 2002; Townsend, 2000);
thereby exacerbating lost opportunities to learn, as well as increasing
disengagement and the risk of dropout. Harsh intervention for youth whose
behavior does not warrant intense disciplinary action may also be harmful,
particularly without additional support for low-risk youth (Mendez, 2003).
In contrast to reactive and exclusionary punishments, schools are widely
adopting models that explicitly teach behavioral expectations. On the frontier in
school discipline are ecological approaches focused on fostering self-discipline
and self-control (Osher, Bear, Sprague & Doyle, 2010). These strategies focus on
improving the efficacy and holding power of the classroom activities in which
students participate (see Bear, 2010; Doyle, 2006). Early research in this area has
shown that proactive strategies for managing classroom group structures can
promote student engagement in the classroom (Gump, 1990; Kounin, 1970).
Neighborhood factors as well as the impact of implicit bias appear affect
current disciplinary approaches and outcomes (Allison & Welch, 2010; Rocque,
2010). Students of color and economically disadvantaged students are more likely
to attend schools where the disciplinary environment of harsh and exclusionary
(Duncan & Murnane, 2011). In addition, studies of school discipline show
consistently that African American students and First Nation students are
10 School Influences on Child and Youth Development
disproportionately removed from schools, and the disparities are greatest in
discretionary areas and regarding infarctions for which there are no concrete
referents (e.g., disrespect as opposed to possessing a weapon) (Fabelo et al., 2011;
Losen, 2011; Skiba et al., 2000).
Promotion and Prevention in Schools
As a universal institution, schools are in a unique position to both promote
student health and to benefit from the presence of healthy students. Schools can do
this by implementing universal promotion and prevention. School-based
promotion includes developing student’s social and emotional competencies and
improving the conditions for learning in a school, including helping students
express their voice, experience leadership opportunities, and connect to adults and
prosocial peers.
Long lists of exemplary school-based promotion and prevention programs
have been developed and are widely available (e.g., Center for the Study and
Prevention of Violence, 2006, SAMHSA’s National registry of evidence-based
programs and practices, n.d.). School-based prevention programs are most
effective when they are tailored based on the characteristics of participating
children and youth and settings, such as age, culture, organizational capacity, and
community context. Programs for children in elementary schools are most
effective when they focus on improving both academic and social and emotional
learning, while programs for middle school and high school students are most
effective when they focus on building academic and social competences, such as
good study habits, drug resistance skills, and positive relationships with peers
(National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2011). Prevention efforts can be especially
effective—even among high-risk youth—when provided at key transition points
(such as moving from middle school to high school), and provided to the general
population (rather than singling out and labeling individuals; Institute of
Medicine, 2009). Although specific violence and substance abuse prevention
curricula are available, schools can also take steps to prevent adverse outcomes by
ensuring that teachers apply good classroom management practices, such as
reinforcing positive behaviors (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2011), and
creating a positive school climate.
In the remainder of this section, we focus on student health, nutrition, and
mental health, and consider social and emotional learning as an organizing
framework for school interventions.
Physical Health
To perform well academically, students must first attend school (Windham,
Bohrnstedt, Brown, Seidel, & Kendziora, 2011). It is not surprising that students
School Influences on Child and Youth Development 35
with chronic conditions such as asthma and obesity have poorer attendance than
healthy students, and improving student health also improves student attendance.
There is evidence that when schools increase student health conditions for
students, such as by facilitating student access to health services and increasing
physical activity, student absences decrease (Basch, 2011a). Therefore, schools
can take steps to improve student attendance by focusing on improving student
Schools have long promoted student health at the population level through
physical education classes and recess. Children who are physically active for at
least 60 minutes per day have a significantly reduced risk of later cardiovascular
disease and diabetes relative to less active children (Physical Activity Guidelines
Advisory Committee, 2008). In addition, exercise has been demonstrated
experimentally to improve academic performance (Stevens, To, Stevenson, &
Lochbaum, 2008; Telford et al., 2012).
There is substantial evidence that allocating time for physical activity during
the school day does not detract from children’s academic performance, and may
even improve it. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
undertook a review of 50 studies that examined the relationship between physical
activity time at school and academic performance. Just over half of these studies
showed that student participation in school-based physical activities conferred
positive benefits on children’s academic performance, just under half showed no
effect on academic performance, and only one study showed a negative effect
(CDC, 2010).
Adequate nutrition is a cornerstone of child health and development. Multiple
studies have demonstrated the negative effect of food insecurity on school-age
children’s academic achievement, behavior, and social relationships with peers
(Cook & Frank, 2008). The Federally-funded National School Lunch Program
exists to address food insecurity among students, but even when food is provided
to students, it may fail to meet existing nutrition requirements (New America
Foundation, 2011). Among undernourished populations, school breakfast
programs improve attendance, cognitive functioning, and academic performance
(Basch, 2011a, 2011b).
Mental Health
For children with mental health needs, schools, not the specialty mental health
sector, are the primary providers of services (Hoagwood & Erwin, 1997). Schools
have not been very successful, however, in meeting the needs of children with
emotional disturbances. Compared to other students with disabilities, students
with emotional disturbances are identified later and are more likely to be in
restrictive placements and drop out of school (U.S. Department of Education,
2011; Wagner et al, 2006). Children with mental health issues do not involve
12 School Influences on Child and Youth Development
disruptive behavior, such as those with depression or anxiety, are particularly
likely to be identified late or not at all. In addition, research suggests that that
there is a “dual track” to services, in which a disproportionate number of children
of color as compared to Caucasian children first receive mental health services
only after they encounter the child welfare or juvenile justice system (Huang,
Social and Emotional Learning Interventions
SEL interventions build the internal competencies that are critical for positive
child and youth development, and although often viewed as an “add-on” to
academic instruction, are in fact an essential part of education. Over the past two
decades, researchers have produced increasingly compelling evidence that
interventions promoting SEL improve academic performance. Zins, Weissberg,
Wang, and Walberg (2004) reported that students who become more self-aware
and confident about their learning abilities try harder in school. Students who set
high academic goals, have self-discipline, motivate themselves, manage their
stress, and organize their approach to work learn more and get better grades
(Duckworth, & Seligman, 2005; Elliot & Dweck, 2005). Further, research in
neuroscience suggests that SEL programs may improve central executive
cognitive functions, such as inhibitory control, planning, and set-shifting by
building greater cognitive-affective regulation in pre-frontal areas of the cortex
(Riggs, Greenberg, Kusché, & Pentz, 2006).
Students in schools that use an evidence-based SEL curriculum (one that has
been scientifically evaluated and found effective) significantly improve in their
attitudes toward school, their behaviors, and their academic performance (Durlak
et al, 2011). Durlak et al.’s (2011) meta-analysis of 30 studies found that SEL
results in improvements in students’ achievement test scores—by an average of 11
percentile points over students who are not involved in SEL programming. In a
multi-year study, Hawkins, Smith, and Catalano (2004) found that by the time
they were adults, students who received SEL interventions in grades 1–6 had an
11 percent higher grade-point average and significantly greater levels of school
commitment and attachment to school at age 18. Further, students who received
SEL interventions showed a 30 percent lower incidence of school behavior
problems, a 20 percent lower rate of violent delinquency, and a 40 percent lower
rate of heavy alcohol use by age 18.
In a meta-analysis of 207 studies of SEL programs, Durlak et al. (2011) found
that, compared to controls, students demonstrated enhanced SEL skills, attitudes,
and positive social behaviors following intervention and also demonstrated fewer
conduct problems and had lower levels of emotional distress. Further, academic
performance was significantly improved, with overall mean effect sizes for test
scores and grades of 0.27 and 0.33, respectively. SEL programs with the best
outcomes are multiyear in duration, use interactive rather than purely knowledge-
School Influences on Child and Youth Development 35
based instructional methods, and are integrated into the life of the school rather
than being implemented as marginal add-ons.
SEL is very closely related to the concept of “positive youth development”
(PYD; see Lerner, Phelps, Forman, & Bowers, 2009 for a review). Both are
focused on building strengths rather than preventing negative behaviors
(consistent with positive psychology, Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), and
both foster resilience through individual strategies and establishing caring
environments. PYD tends to be the preferred umbrella term for those focused on
older children and adolescents and those working in out-of-school and
community-based settings. As such, PYD tends to place greater emphasis on
autonomy, optimism, youth voice, participation and empowerment. SEL and PYD
have more in common than they have differences, however, and as Catalano and
his colleagues suggested when comparing PYD and prevention science
frameworks (Catalano, Hawkins, Berglund, Pollard, & Arthur, 2002), cooperation
is the best way forward.
Concluding Remarks: Frontiers with Positive
Youth Development and Social Emotional
The challenge for schools and communities is to create environments where
students are supported in developing the skills and capacities to thrive. Doing this
successfully involves leveraging and disseminating information about the
connections between learning and academic performance. For example, in Alaska,
where AIR developed a survey to assess the impact of a youth development
initiative across 18 school districts, we found that not only were several aspects of
school climate and connectedness consistently related to student achievement, but
also that positive change in school climate and connectedness was related to
significant gains in student scores on statewide achievement tests. Our findings
showed that whether a school started with high or low school climate and
connectedness, or high or low achievement scores, changing that school’s climate
and connectedness for the better was associated with increases in student
performance in reading, writing, and mathematics (Spier et al., 2007). Similarly
work we have done in previously troubled schools in the South Bronx suggested
that mental health supports, when coupled with family engagement and
organizational efficacy were effective in creating more positive conditions for
learning in these schools (Kendziora et al., 2008).
Although research that demonstrates the importance of the social and emotional
conditions for learning in schools is accumulating, these factors remain relatively
marginalized in the education community. Steps that may be taken to create
emotionally safe and supportive schools that promote students’ positive social,
emotional, and academic learning include (a) adopting SEL as a framework for
school improvement, (b) helping districts and states develop the capacity to assess
14 School Influences on Child and Youth Development
and monitor their social and emotional conditions for learning; and (c) providing
schools and communities with effective tools and strategies to improve these
conditions. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
(ASCD, a professional association for educators) has adopted a Whole Child
Initiative that stresses and approach consistent with the interventions we have
described. They write, “Each child, in each school, in each of our communities
deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. That’s what a
whole child approach to learning, teaching, and community engagement really is.”
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... The left-behind children concept may mean different things to different people (Osher et al., 2014b). For example, Osher et al. (2014b) explain it as accountability for the achievement of all social groups of children. ...
... The left-behind children concept may mean different things to different people (Osher et al., 2014b). For example, Osher et al. (2014b) explain it as accountability for the achievement of all social groups of children. Khan et al. (2017) refer to it as children who were left behind due to migration caused by wars, COVID-19 pandemic and other pandemics. ...
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Historically, social research methodologies have been construed as being less significant in their contribution to social change. This perception emanates from those who view social research methodologies as an accessory to the natural sciences. Contrary to this view, this article, on the schooling experiences of children who have been left behind by their parents in Zimbabwe, is used to contribute to the debate. It seeks to present our experiences in the application of social research methodologies, including challenges and their contribution to social change. However, this change remains a contested issue in research because there is no consensus on how to measure it. The study followed a qualitative research approach, using an interpretive phenomenological study design. A purposive sampling strategy was used to select 12 secondary school children (12–18 years old). Data were constructed through two methods, interviews and document analysis. The overall finding of the study revealed that social sciences methodologies can make a contribution to social change. This was illustrated by the fact that when social methodological approaches were used, children were enabled to confidently express their lived experiences by creating a child-friendly environment such as child-centeredness, democratic participation and inclusivity. Consequently, the findings have shed some light on the way in which policy makers should develop policies with regard to left-behind children (LBC). On the basis of these findings, the article argues that social research methodologies can make a difference in social change, despite challenges that may emerge. The findings may have implications for social researchers and for our study. For example, the findings could minimise hermeneutics injustice by mediating what the marginalised groups, such as children, may express despite scepticism about their authenticity which is important for social change.
... School confronts children with major developmental challenges, both in the social and academic arenas. It acts as a protective factor, while providing them the opportunity for developing relevant skills/abilities and sense of efficacy, as well as to negotiate social relationships (Osher et al., 2014). ...
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2023): Cognitive flexibility and academic performance of children in care and children from a community sample: the contrasting mediator effect of task persistence, Educational and Developmental Psychologist, ABSTRACT Objective: This study investigated the role of cognitive flexibility and temperament as pre-dictors of academic performance, in children in care and children from a community sample, longitudinally. Also, it examined the mediating role of child's temperament in the relationship between cognitive flexibility and academic performance, as well as between-group differences. Method: Participants were 46 children in care and 48 children from a community sample, aged 6 to 10 years. Cognitive flexibility, temperament, and academic performance were assessed with the Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices set B (RCPM-B), the Portuguese version of School-Age Temperament Inventory (SATI), and the competence academic scale (CAS) of the Portuguese version of the Social Skills Rating System-Teacher Form (SSRS-T), respectively. Results: Cognitive flexibility was a significant predictor of academic performance only for children in care. In both groups, negative reactivity and task persistence predicted academic performance, and children's task persistence mediated the relationship between cognitive flexibility and academic performance. However, a between group difference was observed in this mediation: in addition to the mediation effect observed in both groups, a direct effect was also found in the in-care group. Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of promoting cognitive and task persistence competencies in normative and at-risk populations. KEY POINTS What is already known about this topic: (1) Cognitive abilities are widely recognized as a determinant factor for academic performance in both nonclinical and at-risk populations. (2) The predictive effect of temperament on school academic performance is widely described. (3) Cognitive flexibility difficulties and poor academic performance among children in care are widely documented. What this study adds: (1) In the in-care group, cognitive flexibility predicted academic performance one year later, but this longitudinal prediction was not significant for the community sample group. (2) The mediating role of temperament dimensions in the relationship between cognitive flexibility and academic performance was examined and only task persistence showed a significant mediation effect in both groups. (3) This mediation effect was different between groups, as, in addition to the mediator effect observed in both groups, a direct effect was found in the in-care group. ARTICLE HISTORY
... A student's convictions, ideals, and perceptions are greatly influenced by their most extensive environment, and one of which is the school setting (Garibaldi et al., 2014). An individual's culture and beliefs are molded and shaped in their adolescence (and in this stage wherein they are students), which is proved to be the most crucial years in personal development. ...
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The study aims to attain an in-depth apprehension of, and better voting literacy in means of determining practices and experiences which affect and greatly contribute to the perspective of the youth with regards to the subject matter. Its research sample is Senior High School students in the HUMSS strand, further utilizing the methodology of social constructivism tackling the importance of understanding the meaning of things leading to capturing the settings that affect an individual's ideas. The University's environment took a big part on the building of the students' socio-political perspective, inclusive of both academic and extracurricular activities; in essence, a specialized subject taught for the former, and student movement activities for the latter such as uprisings and open discussions. In conclusion, it has been found that the occurrence of these engagements then take a meaningful role on the students' awareness of contemporary issues the society is facing, and become more active in participating in socio political discussion resulting to the improving of their interest and criticality as a voter.
... However, this scenario was not relevant to our target population because they were not able to drive (the legal driving age in Hong Kong is 18 years). Schools play an important role in child and youth development [46]. Therefore, our expert panel changed "driving" to "doing homework" to make item 8 more appropriate for our population. ...
Background Sleep disruption is prevalent in childhood cancer survivors. However, no validated instrument is available to assess this symptom. We translated and adapted the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) for Hong Kong Chinese cancer survivors and examined its psychometric properties and factor structure. Procedure A cross-sectional study was conducted. A convenience sample of 402 Hong Kong Chinese childhood cancer survivors aged 6–18 years were asked to complete the Chinese version of the PSQI, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC), Fatigue Scale-Child (FS-C)/Fatigue Scale-Adolescent (FS-A), and Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL). To assess known-group validity, 50 pediatric cancer patients and 50 healthy counterparts were recruited. A sample of 40 survivors was invited to respond to the PSQI again 2 weeks later to assess test–retest reliability. Results The Chinese version of the PSQI had a Cronbach alpha of 0.71, with an intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.90. Childhood cancer survivors showed significantly lower mean PSQI scores than children with cancer, and significantly higher mean scores than healthy counterparts. We observed positive correlations between PSQI and CES-DC scores and between PSQI and FS-A/FS-C scores, but a negative correlation between PSQI and PedsQL scores. Confirmatory factor analysis showed that the translated PSQI data best fit a three-factor model. The best cutoff score to detect insomnia was 4.5. Conclusions The Chinese version of the PSQI is a reliable and valid instrument to assess subjective sleep quality among Hong Kong Chinese childhood cancer survivors.
... Teaching children cognitive skills (e.g., problem-solving, responsible decision-making, and perspective-taking), emotional skills (e.g., empathy and emotion regulation), and social skills (e.g., cooperation, helping, and communication) at schools has positive effects on their attitudes, behaviors, mindsets, and academic performance (Osher et al., 2014). Autonomy, competence, and relatedness may simultaneously enhance academic resilience (Liu & Huang, 2021). ...
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Academic resilience relates to children's ability to overcome disadvantaged backgrounds and perform well in school settings. In particular, culture may promote resilience through an understanding of cultural similarities and differences in the function of protective factors in individualist and collectivist nations. Drawing data from the PISA 2018, this study investigated the similarities and differences in protective factors related to academic resilience amongst adolescents in individualist and collectivist contexts. The results of the multi-group logistic regression analyses showed some differential effects of protective factors on academic resilience. Additional gender-moderated effects were reported from moderated-moderation analysis. Adolescents scoring high on perspective-taking tended to be more academically resilient in collectivist cultures but not in individualist ones. Compared to males, female adolescents feeling competent in information-communication technology tended to be less academically resilient in individualist cultures but not in collectivist ones. The findings are significant for shedding light on the protective factors promoting academic resilience in different cultural contexts.
This article examines the opportunities for “religion and national values” (RNV) in the national context of shaping Nigerian students through university curriculum. University students are often radicalized by religious fundamentalists and are usually used in the destruction of lives and property. This makes the inclusion of RNV as a course in university curriculum a necessary endeavor for sustaining peace and development in Nigeria, looking at its impact on secondary education. The curriculum of Nigeria’s secondary schools includes the subject “Religion and National Values” which has resulted in widespread religious tolerance, peace, and development. Scholars are yet to look at how these results were achieved and the need for RNV to be included in university curriculum. In this study, the literature was extended to look at how the curriculum can promote national unity, peace, and development at the secondary school level, as well as the need for RNV in the university curriculum. This study utilized documentary analysis, with data gotten from secondary sources. In this study, it was discovered that the Nigerian university curriculum is designed to cater to university students’ economic and political needs at the neglect of religion, which has taken more lives and property in Nigeria. Also, the contents of Nigeria’s educational curriculum increase the dichotomy between Christians and Muslims because of the neglect of a course that touches on religion and national values (RNV). In conclusion, the inclusion of RNV as a course in university curriculum increases unity among students and also reduces the chances of youth being radicalized by terrorist groups. Recommendations are discussed.
Justice-involved adolescents (JIAs) have an increased risk for opioid use disorder and overdose related to opioid misuse (OM). Consequences of untreated OM include recidivism and poor educational outcomes, which can be harsher for female JIA. Therefore, identifying relevant factors and settings that reduce the risk for OM is critical. Schools are a central institution in adolescent development. Drawing on social control theory, JIA with higher levels of school bonding was hypothesized to attenuate risk for OM. Cross-sectional data on 79,960 JIA from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice were examined. Multivariate and stratified logistic regression analyses were employed. On average, for every one-unit increase in school bonding, JIA had 22%, female JIA had 23%, and male JIA had 22% lower odds of OM. Results suggest school bonding and the school context should be considered in treatment and how this setting may impact OM intervention outcomes among JIA.
High quality teacher-student interactions are critical for the healthy social-emotional, behavioral, and academic development of middle school students. However, few studies have explored patterns of teacher-student interactions in middle school classrooms or the relation between teacher-, classroom-, and school-level factors and patterns of interaction. The current study employed latent profile analyses (LPA) to identify patterns of teacher-student interactional quality in a sample of 334 teachers from 41 schools serving middle school students within the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Three distinct profiles of teacher-student interactional quality were identified that were characteristic of higher, lower, and intermediate quality and were differentially related to teacher, classroom, and school characteristics. Compared to classrooms with lower interactional quality, classrooms with “higher” or “intermediate” profiles were more likely to be taught by early career teachers, to have higher rates of observed student cooperation, and to be in schools in rural fringe areas. Classrooms with lower interactional quality were more likely to have larger student-to-teacher ratios and higher rates of student disruptive behaviors than classrooms with intermediate interactional quality and to be in schools with a higher percentage of out-of-school suspensions than classrooms with higher interactional quality. These findings suggest that interventions at the teacher, classroom, and school levels may promote positive teacher-student interactions, such as consultation to support teachers' effective classroom management, alternatives to out-of-school suspensions, and smaller student-to-teacher ratios.
The Theory of Marginality and Mattering (TMM; Schlossberg, 1989) posits that when individuals feel as though they matter to others and to society, it enables them to engage in prosocial behavior that provides a personally and socially rewarding path through life. It is also expected to help them avoid engaging in risk behaviors (e.g., substance use, non-violent delinquency, aggression) that would threaten a rewarding life. Mattering provides individuals with motivation to behave in certain ways (Rosenberg & McCullough, 1981). In fact, researchers show that youth with higher perceptions of mattering are less likely to engage in risky behavior (Elliot, Cunningham, Colangelor, & Gelles, 2011), however, important gaps in the literature remain. For instance, few researchers have studied mattering among rural youth. Additionally, researchers studying mattering have focused exclusively on interpersonal mattering and have not studied societal mattering. In fact, no well-validated scale for measuring societal mattering among youth currently exists. Also, most researchers have examined mattering as a predictor, but few researchers have studied interpersonal and societal mattering as outcomes. Finally, few researchers have examined the process through which interpersonal and societal mattering influence youth risk behavior. This proposed dissertation seeks to fill these gaps in the literature. The aims of this dissertation are to: 1) develop and test the psychometric properties of a societal mattering scale for rural youth, 2) explore how perceptions of factors at the community, school, peer, and family levels affect rural youths' feelings of interpersonal and societal mattering, and 3) test a mediation model that links interpersonal mattering to youth risk behaviors through self-regulation and societal mattering through civic engagement.
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Teacher leadership from the perspective of school principals and teachers was analysed. However, teacher leader from the pre-primary and primary school children perspective has not been investigated. The research aim is to analyse pre-primary and primary school children opinion on teacher leader underpinning the elaboration of implications for teacher education. The empirical study was carried out in February 2021. The sample was composed of four children who attend pre-primary and primary schools in Riga, Latvia. The data were collected through interviews. The study results show the characteristics of teacher leader from the children perspective: teacher leader is a kind person and treats children well. Implications for teacher education imply teacher training on the use of politeness in communication with children: linguistic politeness as well as body language politeness.
The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between teachers’ perceived student misbehaviour and emotional exhaustion, and the role of teacher efficacy beliefs (related to handling student misbehaviour) and emotion regulation in this relationship. Additionally, we examined teacher turnover intentions in relation to emotional exhaustion. Data were collected from 610 elementary, middle- and high-school teachers using an online survey. Results indicate that despite the significant direct effect between the two emotion regulation strategies (cognitive reappraisal, expressive suppression) on emotional exhaustion, both strategies failed to show a mediating effect between perceived student misbehaviour and emotional exhaustion. However, teacher efficacy in handling student misbehaviour was found to mediate the relationship between perceived student misbehaviour and emotional exhaustion. In turn, a significant relationship was found between emotional exhaustion and turnover intentions. Furthermore, teacher perception of student misbehaviour was found to have a considerable indirect effect on teacher turnover intentions. Findings signify the importance of developing strategies that enhance teachers’ situation-specific efficacy beliefs.
Schools should have zero tolerance for any policy that treats all students the same, according to Mr. Curwin and Mr. Mendler, who propose a better approach.