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Students are actively involved

 

Below is the research for each of the indicators for the result: Students Are Actively Involved in Learning and In Their Community

Click here to access publications related to this result.


Indicators:


Attendance rates

Students who attend class regularly achieve higher academic results than those who do not.  The 1998 TUSD study again demonstrates this fact, finding that students with higher attendance rates achieved significantly higher scores on Stanford 9 achievement exams than students who were absent more often.1  


Truancy rates

When students are not in school, they are not learning and will likely not achieve academically.  When they are out for too long, students fall behind in their studies; and, if they are out long enough, they may never be able to "catch up"2. Chronic absences signal disengagement from school and further distance students from school.

According to a Colorado Foundation for Families and Children report, chronic truancy leads to "further disengagement from school, from teachers, and ultimately lead to serious anti-social behavior like juvenile delinquency."  The report goes on to explain, "the cycle begins with early truant behavior that leads to later school suspensions, expulsions, and delinquency. Unexcused absence is our first, best symptom of student problems that lead to poor outcomes. If we are to re-engage students, the trajectory that begins with truancy (office referral, suspension, expulsion, dropout, and delinquency) must be broken. Schools must be more aggressive in their efforts to curb and eliminate truancy as the first step in breaking this cycle."3

Suspension rates

Suspension rates account for a significant percentage of students absent from school everyday.  Suspension, however, perpetuates a cycle of truancy and exclusion that can hinder student success. The Colorado Foundation for Families and Children study explains that,

schools typically discipline students’ misbehavior by excluding them. This sends a message to students, who are often already struggling, that they are in fact not wanted. This "push out" model of discipline tends to make a bad situation worse. Clearly, if students are a threat to others they need to be isolated, but students who exhibit threatening behavior make up only a small fraction of the out of school youth population. Today over 20% of school suspensions across Colorado are for truant behavior (Colorado Foundation for Families and Children, 2002). Sending a student home for not coming to school provides little or no intervention to the underlying causes of the absences and is counterproductive to the educational process. A predictable negative cycle of behavior is becoming very clear and requires immediate attention. The cycle begins with early truant behavior that leads to later school suspensions, expulsions, and delinquency.4


% students engaged and contributing to community

School is an ideal place to connect learning to the real world of students’ communities.  For students to be most successful, they must have the opportunity, to learn in a real-worl context and to apply their learning to real problems in their communities.

Recent national surveys reflect the opinion that involving students in more real-world learning experiences would greatly improve student outcomes. Of those students (ages thirteen to nineteen) surveyed, ninety-five percent said opportunities for more real world learning would improve their school5. Among adults surveyed, ninety-two percent favored emphasizing real world learning in schools, including work study, community service, and vocational courses.6

Research backs up these opinions.  Studies have linked student engagement with positive academic, civic and moral, personal and social, and work-related outcomes.  Of forty-eight schools using the "environment as an integrating context for learning" (referred to as the EIC model), data shows that EIC students in ninety-two percent of schools scored higher on standardized tests than their peers in traditional programs.  Classroom behavior problems were reduced by as much as ninety-five percent and overall attendance increased in the more-inclusive EIC setting7. A separate survey of service learning students announced that participants reported significant increases in their feelings of connection to their communities, of connection to their schools, and of civic responsibility.8


Students reporting feeling connected to the school 

Research indicates that feeling connected to school and community can have a variety of positive effects on young people. According to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (known as "Add Health"), of students in grades seven through twelve, weak bonds with a caring family and school are the best predictors of risky behavior for youth.  Bonds with family and school rank ahead of race, income, and family structure in determining the likelihood that youth will experiment with harmful behavior such as sex at a young age and drug and alcohol use. As one health education researcher notes, "When adolescents feel cared for by people at their school and feel like a part of their school, they are less likely to use substances, engage in violence, or initiate sexual activity at an early age. Students who feel connected to school also report higher levels of emotional well being."9


Homework completion rates

While the value of homework has been questioned in recent years, studies have found that homework "substantially benefits" student achievement in high school, and also benefits younger students to perhaps a lesser degree and in different ways.  For students in middle grades, homework boosted academic achievement by about half as much as it did for high school students. The study found that students in the lower grades may not earn higher grades because they complete homework; rather, elementary students benefited most when homework developed their organizational and study skills.10

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1see figure 2, http://tusdstats.tusd.k12.az.us/planning/resources/document/aa/att97.htm
2 see figure 2, http://tusdstats.tusd.k12.az.us/planning/resources/document/aa/att97.htm
3 http://www.schoolengagement.org/TruancypreventionRegistry/Admin/Resources/Resources/26.pdf
4 http://www.schoolengagement.org
5 The Horatio Alger Association, in Community-Based Learning: Engaging Students for Success and Citizenship, p. 2 
6 The Educational Testing Service, in Community-Based Learning, p.2  
7 The State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER), in Community-Based Learning
8 "Heads, Hearts and Hands: The Research on K-12 Service Learning," S. Billing,Growing to Greatness (National Youth Leadership Council, 2004), in Community-Based Learning
9 "Promoting School Connectedness," in "Youth Development Programs Show Success in Reducing Risky Behaviors,"  Clea McNeely, James M. Nonnemaker, and Robert W. Blum, NASBE (National Association of State Boards of Education) Policy Update, www.nasbe.org
10 Black, 1996; Paulu, 1998; in "Increasing Student Engagement and Motivation: From Time on Task to Homework," Cori Brewster and Jennifer Fager, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, www.nwrel.org
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