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


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

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 Principals Need to Talk About the Israel-Hamas War With Our Teachers
What can we do when a difficult topic is brought up by students in classrooms? First, don’t leave teachers to handle it in isolation.
S. Kambar Khoshaba
5 min read
Stylized photo illustration of a teacher feeling pressured as she is questioned by her students.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management Sometimes Principals Need to Make Big Changes. Here’s How to Get Them to Stick
School leaders need their community to take a leap of faith with them. But how do they build trust and conviction?
8 min read
Image of a leader reflecting on past and future.
akindo/DigitalVision Vectors
School & District Management A New Study Details Gender and Racial Disparities in the Superintendent's Office
Women and people of color are less likely than their white male counterparts to be appointed superintendent directly from a principal post.
6 min read
A conceptual image of a female being paid less than a male.
hyejin kang/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Late Arrivals, Steep Costs: Why Some Districts Ditch Third-Party Bus Companies
Districts are facing a host of transportation challenges. Some have addressed them by deciding to bring buses back in house.
6 min read
School buses parked in Helena, Mont., ahead of the beginning of the school year on Aug. 20, 2021.
Some districts are pulling back on decisions to outsource bus services in an effort to save money and improve service.
Iris Samuels/AP