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To close achievement gap, US must address major health risks for urban minority youth, study finds
Date:3/23/2010

"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
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Contact: Patricia Lamiell
lamiell@tc.columbia.edu
212-678-3979
Teachers College, Columbia University
Source:Eurekalert

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