• Public Health Models and School Success?

    Posted on February 27th, 2012 kr No comments

    Over the past decades epidemiologists have been successful at raising public awareness about risk factors or disease, such as smoking and inadequate exercise. However, they have been less successful about addressing social factors, which tend to be more proximal and less direct, that also influence or fundamentally “cause” diseases or negative health outcomes. Researchers have suggested when looking at the social causes of a disease we need to be sure to avoid the possible “pitfall” of focusing too much on a single relationship between a single disease and linear, single-cause explanations and links to social influences.  The development of an inclusive model for health and health outcomes would require a clear theoretical understanding of a number of different possible social influences on health, such as SES, health behaviors prior to marriage, family history of health behaviors, possible regional or cultural influences, possible genetic predispositions for certain emotional/psychological disorders (based on family history or past experiences); the list is almost infinite.

    How does this relate to student success? Simply.  It seems that in the U.S. our policies and evaluation of students’ performances and school success are largely viewed from an individual motivation/responsibility view point.   We have standardized tests aimed to provide an “unbiased” metric by which students can evaluated.  If the student does not succeed, they did not try hard enough; less relevant to evaluators minds (though it is highly know to both parents, students, and educators/educational board members alike) is the role of school districting and funding, the SES composition of students, school location and culture, and a number of other macro-level characteristics that all influence the chances of individual or patterned success or failure.  This is why separate could never be equal. This is why something in the current system has got to give.

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