242654 Health and Social Inhibitory Factors to Academic Achievement A survey of school principals

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eileen O'Keefe, MD, MPH , Department of Health Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA
Emma Kirkpatrick , Department of Health Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA
Meredith Weiner , Department of Health Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA
Nancy Carpenter, MPH , Massachusetts Association of School Based Health Care, Boston, MA
Antonia Blinn , Massachusetts Association of School-Based Health Care, Boston
Objective: To assess school principals' perceptions on health and social factors which impact academic achievement and specific challenges to addressing students' social and emotional needs. Background: Nationally, minority students' school graduation rates lag behind rates for non-Hispanic whites. Factors outside classroom, specifically health and social factors have significant impact on school attendance and academic performance. With limited budgets, schools must balance accountability mandates with meeting students' social and emotional needs. Outside agencies offer potential to address needs; with positive correlations reported between school-based health centers (SBHC) use and improved academic achievement and decreased absence rates. Data on principals' perspective has not been reported. Methods: A 16-question survey tool was developed, and distributed to school principals. Data from 100 completed surveys was analyzed; PASW Statistics software. Results: Social factors ranked higher than specific health factors as inhibitors to academic achievement: lack of parental involvement (72%), lack of student motivation (71%) and school absence (67%) were ranked highest. Parental resistance, lack of staff training and accountability mandates were ranked as the greatest challenges to addressing social and emotional needs. Health and social factors are best addressed by outside agencies. Conclusions: Study offers valuable perspective on parental involvement as key social factor with important implications for academic achievement. Outside agencies including SBHCs offer potential in working with schools. Results highlight the importance of dialog and collaboration among educators, health professionals, community agencies and community members to successfully address academic achievement gap. Significance: importance of social factors in academic achievement.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Assess health and social factors that impact academic achievement

Keywords: School Health, Social Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have a clinical background in pediatric health practice, direct undergraduate programs in health science and public health, and conduct school health research with community partners.
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.