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Developing Specific Skills Ensure Better Grades In US Kids

President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law has focused mainly on providing children with good grades rather than social development of the child.// A new study now says that programs that target anti-social behavior in schools also go a long way in improving overall academic performances.

The study conducted by researchers by University of Washington's Social Development Research Group involved 600 children and found that violence in schools was also affecting grades in children. 'The implications are that prevention programs that address specific risk factors, curb antisocial behavior such as alcohol and cigarette use, stress a greater connection to school and promote social and emotional skills also contribute to academic achievement,' said Kevin Haggerty, who co-authored the study. The study also found that better emotional management and decision-making skills in the seventh grade ensured that kids performed better and got higher grades on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) that was given to 10th graders in 2002/03. Charles Fleming, the lead author of the study and a research analyst with the Social Development Research Group was of the opinion that all past issues have a strong reflection in the present ones. 'These findings show that if you make some difference in correcting negative behavior you can have a positive effect on school performance. This provides support, for instance, for programs being implemented in many elementary and middle schools to curb bullying behavior,' he observed.

The program called Raising Healthy Children tracked children from the first or second grade through the 12th grade and included workshops on effective teaching skills and better family management besides conducting summer camps and study tours. 'These programs are important and they teach skills that children need to negotiate in the classroom and the school environment. When we teach them to children they are more successful academical ly,' the researchers conclude in the study, which appears in the November issue of the Journal of School Health.

Joel Schwarz
University of Washington


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