Happiness: The Missing Link To The Achievement Gap


A recent study revealed that a happy school climate greatly affects how a child learns at school. In fact, it could be the missing link to bridging the achievement gap as it shows that even those who belong in low-income schools achieve more if the school climate is positive.

A happy school boosts a student's achievement, but what constitutes a happy school? It is a school with caring and supportive teachers, involved parents, connected students, and a safe learning environment. This were some of the findings of the research which spanned 15 years analyzing different schools around the world.

The biggest surprise the research found out is that no matter what the school's socioeconomic status is, the positive school environment offsets the negative effect of poverty leading students to achieve more. For example, some low-income schools in Rochester, New York have shown noteworthy student achievement because of a positive school environment.

In Children's School of Rochester, the whole school conducts morning assemblies where students are given the chance to celebrate their achievements by putting the limelight on them. School principal Jay Piper said that such assemblies bring a sense of community in the school and lessen the sense of anxiety and insecurity. With these negative factors out of the way, students become more receptive in learning.

Aside from these assemblies, the school also encourages parents to be consistently involved with their children's learning and maintains continuity in their teaching staff in order to nurture an established culture.

Ron Avi Astor, the co-author of the study and a professor at the University of California, said that the emotional and social connectedness students feel at school is a big factor in their academic improvement. With these in mind, Astor said that it gives education reformers 'more tools to think about.'

The findings show great hope for the future of public schools. However, it is also a fact that nurturing such positive environment can be a tall order. It can grow tedious and the progress slow. That is why it takes a lot of patience and vision to create such a climate of happiness at schools.

No one puts it much better than Pam Hogue, principal of Weiner Elementary School, who said that it is not just about teaching the kids skills but confidence as well, which give them a better chance to succeed in life.

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