School & District Management

U.S. Seen as Falling Short on Basic Supports for Children

By Lynn Olson — November 14, 2006 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

More than two-thirds of American children ages 6 to 17 lack the sustained supports needed to put them on track for adult success, according to a report scheduled for release this week.

Titled “Every Child, Every Promise: Turning Failure into Action,” the report was produced by the America’s Promise Alliance, an Alexandria, Va.-based network of business and education groups founded by retired U.S. Army Gen. Colin L. Powell in 1997 to promote volunteerism on behalf of young people.

“Every Child, Every Promise: Turning Failure Into Action” is available from America’s Promise Alliance.

The study examines the presence of five sets of developmental resources in children’s lives, based on three nationally representative telephone surveys of 12- to 17-year-olds, their parents, and the parents of children ages 6 to 11. In total, some 6,000 people responded.

The surveys, conducted in fall 2005, asked the adolescents and the parents about a set of indicators in five areas:

• Caring relationships with adults both in and out of school;

• Safe families, schools, and communities and the chance to engage in constructive activities, such as after-school clubs and teams;

• A healthy start and healthy development, including regular medical checkups, good nutrition, and daily physical activities;

• Effective education for marketable skills and lifelong learning, including a positive school climate, a school culture that emphasizes academic achievement, reading for pleasure, and friends who value being a good student; and

• Opportunities to make a difference through helping others.

‘Promises’ Unkept

Those “promise indicators,” according to the report, are designed to supplement more traditional measures, such as high school dropout rates, drug use, and teen child-bearing, by examining the presence of positive opportunities and assets in young people’s lives that are correlated with later success.

“So many of our young people need basic supports in order to have a chance to be successful in school,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, the president and chief executive officer of the organization. “It’s not our children who are failing, so much as we who are failing our children. We’ve got to find ways to prioritize children and make them more of a national priority.”

The surveys, which included an oversample of African-American and Hispanic young people and their parents, found that children from low-income backgrounds are much less likely to have access to all of the developmental resources they need than those from more affluent families. Black and Hispanic children are half as likely as their white peers to receive them.

The study found that children who benefit from 75 percent or more of the indicators in at least four categories are significantly more likely to be successful, as measured by social competence, frequency of volunteering, avoidance of violence, and achievement of mostly A’s in school.

A separate analysis conducted for the report, by University of Chicago economists James J. Heckman and Flavio Cunha, examined the returns from spending on children consistently from preschool through adolescence, instead of concentrating on particular stages of development.

Early Years Eyed

Using data from a federal study begun in 1979, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the economists simulated the effects of different “investment” strategies on a population of 1,053 boys born to disadvantaged girls who were part of the study. The children of the female participants have been assessed on a range of cognitive and noncognitive skills every two years since 1986.

The study found that a “balanced investment” policy—one that includes both preschool and adolescent interventions—yields the strongest returns in the form of higher rates of high school graduation and college attendance and lower rates of crime.

“Early investment in cognitive and noncognitive skills lowers the cost of later investment by making learning at later ages more efficient,” the authors write. “Our evidence suggests that a portfolio of childhood investments tipped towards the younger years of a child’s life is optimal.”

Still, the study adds, “early investments must be followed up by later investments in order to be effective.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2006 edition of Education Week as U.S. Seen as Falling Short on Basic Supports for Children

Events

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.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
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.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

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 How Staff Shortages Are Crushing Schools
Teachers are sacrificing their planning periods, students are arriving hours late, meals are out of whack, and patience is running thin.
11 min read
Stephanie LeBlanc, instructional strategist at Greeley Middle School in Cumberland Center, Maine.
Stephanie LeBlanc, an instructional strategist at Greely Middle School in Cumberland Center, Maine, has picked up numerous additional duties to help cover for staffing shortages at the school.
Ryan David Brown for Education Week
School & District Management With $102 Million in Grants, These Districts Plan to Train Principals With a Focus on Equity
The new grant program from the Wallace Foundation will help eight school districts work on building principals’ capacity to address equity.
11 min read
Image of puzzle pieces with one hundred dollar bill imagery
Getty
School & District Management Opinion Toxic Positivity Has No Place in Schools
Educators can’t do everything, but we can do some things, writes district leader Cherisse Campbell.
Cherisse Campbell
4 min read
A teacher sits on her desk thinking in an empty classroom.
Joy Velasco for Education Week
School & District Management The Already Dire Substitute Shortage Could Get 'Worse Before It Gets Better'
School districts are trying all sorts of tactics, including increasing pay and relaxing requirements, to get more subs in classrooms.
10 min read
Image of an empty classroom.
urfinguss/iStock/Getty