Welcome back and thanks for joining us for this discussion on the recent research into links between student performance at school and child maltreatment in the home. In our previous article we introduced you to the two researchers that headed up this unique study that compared the state’s child abuse and neglect records, with their school performance records. Next we’d like to look at their findings.
Michigan is way up there with regards to child abuse investigations
The study focused its attention on children in the third grade, which is the first year in which the state does standardized testing of all students. The reason, according to the researchers, for picking this age group was because younger children have higher higher rates of exposure to abuse and neglect, compared with older children. Also, maltreatment at such an early age is thought to have a greater impact on that child’s life.
Although only about 25% of all child abuse and neglect allegations actually get investigated, the researchers initially included all children who were reported to the agency for suspected abuse or neglect. They later analysed all of the same data again, this time using only children whose allegations of abuse or neglect had later been substantiated. The results in both cases showed the same patterns.
What were the findings of the study?
In the end, when all of the data had been analyzed, and the results were in, there were five key factors that the researchers discovered. Here they are:
- About 18% of third graders in Michigan have been formally investigated by CPS for possible abuse or neglect.
- Students in certain demographics, including African American students, students who qualify for free/reduced lunch (i.e. poor students), students living in relatively high-poverty areas, and students attending urban schools, are all more likely to be investigated by CPS for suspected child abuse or neglect.
- Abuse or neglect early in childhood is directly associated with significantly lower academic outcomes and poor school performance (even if you take into account factors like race, poverty levels, neighborhoods, etc…)
- There is a huge difference in CPS referral rates across different school districts, and even between schools in the same district.
- While poorer school districts do have higher rates of abuse and neglect investigations, there are sometimes exceptions to this pattern that have no explanation.
So what should be done about it?
According to the researchers, there are three solutions they will be proposing to policy makers in Michigan, as well as educators and other working directly with children around the state. These suggestions are:
- State officials need to design and implement systems that facilitate the timely sharing of data between the education system, and the child welfare system.
- School personnel should use available data on child maltreatment and/or foster care placement to identify at-risk students, whose school performance is likely to suffer, and provide support for these children.
- Schools or districts with especially high rates of child maltreatment should implement programs specifically aimed at addressing this problem.
How would these changes help Michigan’s students?
As the research shows, early academic performance is important. And given the fact there are so many children who’ve suffered some kind of trauma, there’s an obvious need for solutions. However, the high need level puts an undue burden on teachers and administrators. This is why schools need programs and policies in place, both to help the students who have suffered from trauma, and to support the teachers who are teaching them.
There is one kind of trauma that is often avoidable for families, and that’s the trauma of being torn apart by CPS. If your family is being investigated by CPS, or a CPS worker is threatening to take away your children, call the highly skilled CPS defense attorneys at The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5145 right now, and let us help you keep your children safe!