Trend Lines Blog

Welcome to Child Trends’ blog, Trend Lines, where we share key findings from child and youth research and offer insights to inform  policies and programs.

Evaluating School Initiatives for Better Outcomes

boy idea lightbulbSchools across the country are beginning new school-based initiatives to address and improve the social, emotional, and academic needs of their students. Whether with the help of the recently funded “Now is The Time” grant programs (Project PREVENT, Project AWARE, and the School Climate Transformation Grants) or developed internally, schools are implementing new programs, collecting new data, and working towards better outcomes. In the process, it is easy to overlook perhaps the most central of questions – how do we know whether the programs that are being implemented are actually improving outcomes? Even the most evidence-based program may be ineffective for certain schools  or groups of students(Bumbarger, Perkins, & Greenberg, 2010).

It is critical, then, to continually evaluate both program implementation and impact. Not all evaluations are useful, however. Here are five things to consider for evaluating new initiatives: Read More

Will Recent Progress in Academic Achievement Translate into Broader Gains in the Well-Being of Hispanic Youth?

With the school year just begun, the U.S. reaches a watershed: for the first time in our history, racial minorities comprise the majority of students in public schools. How our schools, our other institutions, and we as individuals respond to this new demography will have much to say about our shared future.

The largest of these minority groups is Hispanic/Latino—a category of great diversity in itself. Today, one in four U.S. children is Latino; by 2050, it will be one in three—about the same proportion who will be white/non-Latino.

As Child Trends’ report, America’s Hispanic Children: Gaining Ground, Looking Forward, shows, the recent progress of Hispanic children in America—particularly in the area of education—is remarkable on its face.

improvement in ed indicators graph Read More

Playful Banter or Bullying? Whose Perception Matters

(Also appears on Huffington Post)

How do we define and measure bullying? This is the question that continues to plague bullying prevention researchers, policymakers, and advocates alike. In his latest blog post, Dr. Justin Patchin ponders on the interactions between his adult friends, who actively tease, mock, and exclude each other, and suggests that perhaps some of our traditional techniques of measuring bullying, such as by asking youth if they’d ever been called mean or hurtful names, may be mis-capturing these friendly interactions. As Patchin writes,

“Often our research approaches don’t allow us to accurately distinguish between good-natured ribbing and malevolent meanness. As I have argued previously, I don’t believe that bullying can be done unintentionally. Even though someone’s feelings can certainly be hurt without intent, bullying by definition is deliberate.”

The issues Patchin ponders in his piece come down to a simple point – whose perspective matters when it comes to bullying—an objective observer, the one engaging in the behavior, or the one who feels bullied? Patchin seems to argue that for behavior to be bullying, the one doing the bullying has to consciously intend to hurt someone else. In other words, for bullying to be bullying, it is the perpetrator’s perspective that matters. This makes sense when our primary intervention strategies revolve around punishing, criminalizing, or otherwise solely addressing the one doing the bullying. If youth are joking around with friends it’s easy to shrug off the behavior, but when we look deeper things become even more complicated. Read More

More Than Just Preschool: Grant Opportunity Supports a Continuum of Early Learning and Development

Carlise King, executive director of the Early Childhood Data Collaborative

Carlise King, Executive Director of the Early Childhood Data Collaborative

This blog is being co-published by the Data Quality Campaign.

Did you know a child’s earliest experiences are predictive of his or her long-term health and educational success? Research has shown that targeted interventions to support at-risk children during the early childhood years can narrow the “school readiness gap” and put children on a path to becoming strong and healthy adults. This is one reason it is critical for states and appropriate stakeholders to effectively use early childhood data. Early childhood data can be used to understand the developmental needs of young children, inform instruction, and identify areas where children and families may need additional supports.

Recently, the US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced a competitive application process for Preschool Development and Expansion Grants that can be used to expand access to high-quality preschool programs in high-need communities. But the grant can be used for more than just preschool. Eligible states can also apply to use the funds to enhance their early care and education (ECE) data systems development to support a continuum of learning from birth to third grade. To qualify, states must describe their plans for “the creation of a more seamless progression of supports and interventions,” a process that should entail strong linkages between preschool programs, K–12 education, and data from related sectors such as home visitation and early intervention services. Read More

A Positive School Climate Can Mean a Successful School Year

caring teacher w studentAs the new school year begins so, too, does the excitement and expectations felt by students, parents, teachers, and school staff.  But sadly, that initial enthusiasm often fades as the routine of school takes over. What if we could gather up all the back-to-school energy and use it as fuel to propel students, school staff, and families through the school year to raise the achievements of students and staff alike?

An increasing number of schools and school districts across the country are focusing on creating a positive school climate, guided by a significant body of research attesting to the educational and developmental benefits of this approach.

But what, exactly, does a positive school climate look like for students, staff, and families on a day-to-day basis? Read More