226733 Educational effects and grade-promotion delays among a cohort of children affected by Hurricane Katrina

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Tasha Stehling-Ariza, MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
David M. Abramson, PhD MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Under normal conditions, a number of social factors influence a child's educational achievement beyond a child's innate intellectual abilities. These factors could include parental support, peer relationships, social status and circumstances, the child's health status, and the institutional support of schools and extramural organizations. Following a catastrophic disaster, when many of these resources have been disrupted or destroyed and the child may have been displaced from his/her home community, a child's capacity to achieve key educational milestones such as grade promotion are jeopardized. Using data from the longitudinal Gulf Coast Child & Family Health Study, which has followed 1,079 randomly sampled households over a four year period of annual in-person interviews, this analysis examines the educational effects and grade-promotional delays experienced by children affected or displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Three years after the hurricane, 31% of the middle- and secondary-school children were one or more years older than the average age for their grade level. This compares to a pre-Katrina regional average of 19% for similarly aged children. The factors we analyzed to explain this variation included parental mental health, family functioning, length of displacement, unstable housing, and comorbid health conditions. Unadjusted analyses indicated that these traditional social factors may not explain the differences in grade-promotion. Rather, the results suggest that the disaster itself and the displacement that followed may be the cause of the grade delay. An adjusted regression analysis examined the effect of these factors while simultaneously controlling for race/ethnicity, household income and state of residence.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify the educational effects of Hurricane Katrina on middle- and secondary- school children. Discuss social factors associated with grade-promotional delays.

Keywords: Education, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I oversee all data collection and conducted the data analyses for this abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.