Study Links School Safety to Achievement, Relationships
School safety depends far less on the poverty and crime surrounding the campus than on the academic achievement of its students and their relationships with adults in the building, according to a new study of Chicago public schools.
The report , released Tuesday by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago, finds that while schools in high-poverty, high-crime neighborhoods tend to be less safe than other schools, students’ level of academic achievement actually plays a bigger role in school safety than a school’s neighborhood. Furthermore, even in high-poverty, high-crime neighborhoods, the quality of relationships among adults and students at a school can turn one school into a safe haven while another languishes as a center of violence.
“It was surprising, because you think it’s all about crime and poverty in the neighborhood, but we found what’s far more important is when you are concentrating together many students with a history of poor performance in school, that’s when you’re likely to have a very unsafe environment,” said Elaine M. Allensworth, a co-author of the study and the senior director and chief research officer at CCSR. “It makes sense when you think about it, because these kids are frustrated, they haven’t done well in school and haven’t been engaged in school,” which, in turn, may make them more likely to act out or to feel insecure...
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