School & District Management Report Roundup

Out-of-School Factors Seen as Key

By Debra Viadero — March 10, 2009 | Corrected: February 22, 2019 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Corrected: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the author of this report. The author is David C. Berliner.

A new report makes a case for paying more attention to the critical role that out-of-school factors—such as inadequate health care, food insecurity, or environmental pollutants—have on children’s school success.

“Inputs to schools matter,” writes the report’s author, David C. Berliner, a professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Arizona State University in Tempe. “As wonderful as some teachers and schools are, most cannot eliminate inequalities that have their roots outside their doors.”

Scheduled to be published jointly on March 9 by the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and ASU’s Education Policy Research Unit, the report echoes a call made last year by a separate group of researchers and former federal officials. In advertisements in national newspapers, the ad hoc coalition advocated a “broader, bolder approach to education” than the narrow emphasis on student achievement embodied in efforts such as the federal No Child Left Behind Act, ( “2 New Coalitions Seek Influence on Campaigns,” June 18, 2008).

In his 54-page brief, Mr. Berliner relates research evidence showing how seven out-of-school factors influence students’ academic success and lead to inequalities among children: prenatal care; health care; food insecurity; environmental pollutants; family stress; neighborhood characteristics; and extended learning opportunities, such as preschool or summer programs.

To tackle those issues, the report offers a laundry list of recommendations for policymakers. They include reducing the rate of low-birthweight children born to African-American mothers and reducing drug and alcohol abuse, pollutant levels in cities, and rates of student mobility and absenteeism in schools. The report also calls on the nation to provide high-quality preschools for all children, summer programs for disadvantaged children, and universal, free medical care.

In the long-run, the payoff for taking successful action on those steps could be substantial, the report contends.

“Economists already suggest that the black-white achievement gap can be reduced by 25 percent just by reducing residential mobility and improving the availability of health care for black children and of mental-health services for their caregivers,” Mr. Berliner writes.

That’s a “big effect,” he said, for tackling just three of the out-of-school factors that he outlines.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 11, 2009 edition of Education Week


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Your Questions on the Science of Reading, Answered
Dive into the Science of Reading with K-12 leaders. Discover strategies, policy insights, and more in our webinar.
Content provided by Otus
Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Why Schools Struggle With Implementation. And How They Can Do Better
Improvement efforts often sputter when the rubber hits the road. But do they have to?
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management How Principals Use the Lunch Hour to Target Student Apathy
School leaders want to trigger the connection between good food, fun, and rewards.
5 min read
Lunch hour at the St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West in Albertville, Minn.
Students share a laugh together during lunch hour at the St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West in Albertville, Minn.
Courtesy of Lynn Jennissen
School & District Management Opinion Teachers and Students Need Support. 5 Ways Administrators Can Help
In the simplest terms, administrators advise, be present by both listening carefully and being accessible electronically and by phone.
10 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
School & District Management Opinion When Women Hold Each Other Back: A Call to Action for Female Principals
With so many barriers already facing women seeking administrative roles, we should not be dimming each other’s lights.
Crystal Thorpe
4 min read
A mean female leader with crossed arms stands in front of a group of people.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva