Executive summary an assessment of developmental assets bernard 2012 (2)
An Assessment of the Emotional Assets of Students in the Bernards Township School District Prepared by Kirk Harlow, Dr.P.H. September 2012 Executive Summary The results of a survey of 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students in Bernards Township, NJ SchoolDistrict conducted in Spring 2012 are presented in this report. The survey was similar to the surveyconducted in Spring 2005. The survey was designed to examine the Developmental Assets of students.Developmental Assets are factors, that if present, may help prevent or protect against high-risk behaviorsuch as drug abuse or delinquency. Survey Design and Distribution The design of the 2005 survey was a collaborative effort involving staff of the BernardsTownship Health Department, staff from the Bernards Township School District, and Kirk Harlow,Dr.P.H. of Midwestern State University/DecisionStat. The 2012 survey incorporated items from thatsurvey, with the addition of some new items to examine areas not in the original survey. Survey items to assess the Developmental Assets and other content areas were developed in twoways. First, twenty-five of the survey’s questions were taken directly from the Search Institute Profilesof Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors.1 This instrument was designed by the Search Institute as a toolto examine Developmental Assets, and the items selected were identified by the design group asrepresentative of the Developmental Asset areas to be assessed. The remaining questions were designed specifically for this survey. These items were designedto capture information on a number of risk behaviors including alcohol and drug use. The purpose of thisinformation was to provide an estimate of the prevalence of high-risk behavior. In addition, it wasnecessary to assess the association of the strength of Developmental Assets with risk behaviors. Some ofthe other information that was collected included demographics, student cheating, bullying, potentialadult confidants, and extra-curricular activities. The target population for the survey included all 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in the SchoolDistrict. Parents were informed of the survey and asked to grant permission to complete the survey.Surveys were provided to students whose parents granted permission. Teachers distributed the surveys intheir classrooms and the surveys were completed at that time. Students were encouraged to complete allsurvey items, but were advised that they could leave a question blank if they did not want to answer it.All questionnaires were anonymous and sent to DecisionStat for entry and tabulation. The response rates by gender and grade are presented in Table 1. There were 1035 completedsurveys, resulting in an overall response rate of 56%. As Table 1 shows, there are some notabledifferences in responses rates when looked at by gender and grade. In particular, the response rate wasquite low for 8th graders. There were some difficulties with survey distribution for this grade because thesurvey was distributed at the end of the school year.1 Items were used with written permission from the Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN., Copyright 1996.
Table 1. Response Rates by Grade and Gender Grade Males Females Total 6th 56% 62% 59% 8th 31% 33% 32% 10th 77% 84% 80% 12th 48% 63% 56% Total 53% 60% 56% Results and Conclusions Overall, most of the students surveyed reported high levels of Developmental Assets. Thissuggests that most students had in place factors that contribute to reducing risk behaviors. Threesummary tables designed to provide an overview of the survey results are presented below. These tablesprovide the results of selected survey items that represent each of the Developmental Asset categories.While the summary tables do not include the results of all the survey items, the general results presentedare consistent with those discussed in detail in the report. The mean scores for seven of the eight Developmental Asset categories are presented in Table 2.Because the Developmental Asset category, Constructive Use of Time, was measured in terms ofparticipation in activities, the results are presented separately in Table 3. Table 2 indicates high mean scores across the Developmental Asset categories; results consistentwith the more detailed frequency scores noted in the report. As Table 3 shows, about three-fourths of thestudents indicated participation in some athletic or intramural activity, and most students considered theparticipation at least worthwhile. Table 2. Summary Mean Scores for Seven Developmental Asset Categories by Grade Grade in School 6th 8th 10th 12th Total Asset Categories Mean Count Mean Count Mean Count Mean Count Mean CountSupport summary 4.1 264 3.8 153 3.7 364 3.9 257 3.9 1038Boundaries summary 3.8 264 3.7 153 3.6 364 3.4 257 3.6 1038Commitment to 4.1 264 4.0 153 4.0 364 4.1 257 4.0 1038learning summaryPositive identity 4.1 264 3.8 153 3.4 364 3.6 257 3.7 1038summarySocial competency 3.7 264 3.8 153 3.7 364 3.7 257 3.7 1038summaryPositive values 4.0 264 3.7 153 3.7 364 3.7 257 3.8 1038summaryEmpowerment 3.2 264 2.8 153 3.0 364 3.0 257 3.0 1038summary
Table 3. Participation in Athletics/Intramural Sports Have you participated in Athletics/Intramural sports? Yes No Grade in School Row N % Count Row N % Count 6th 76.9% 90 23.1% 27 8th 80.2% 85 19.8% 21 10th 80.7% 292 19.3% 70 12th 74.9% 191 25.1% 64 Total 78.3% 658 21.7% 182 If yes, how worthwhile do you think your participation was? Not worthwhile Somewhat worthwhile Very worthwhile Grade in School Row N % Count Row N % Count Row N % Count 6th 3.4% 3 22.7% 20 73.9% 65 8th 12.0% 11 32.6% 30 55.4% 51 10th 9.5% 28 29.7% 88 60.8% 180 12th 7.3% 14 33.0% 63 59.7% 114 Total 8.4% 56 30.1% 201 61.5% 410 A number of questions were asked regarding inappropriate behavior including stealing, physicalfighting, skipping class, going to the principal’s office, alcohol use, and drug use. These questions were asubset of the of the asset category, Positive Values. The two areas with the highest proportions of studentinvolvement were use of alcohol and drugs. These results are summarized in Table 4. As the tableshows, the quantity of use of both alcohol and drugs increases with grade level. By 12th grade, nearly onefourth of the respondents indicated getting drunk more than five times in the past three months. Slightlyless than one fourth of the 12th graders indicated using drugs six times in the past year. Table 3. Use of Alcohol and Drugs by Grade Grade in School 6th 8th 10th 12th Total Count Column Count Column Count Column N Count Column Count Column N% N% % N% N% In the past 3 months, have you drunk beer, wine, or “hard” liquor, not counting religious occasions? Never 160 93.6% 105 82.0% 143 39.5% 50 19.8% 458 50.1% 1 or 2 times 9 5.3% 15 11.7% 101 27.9% 52 20.6% 177 19.4% 3 or 4 times 1 0.6% 4 3.1% 52 14.4% 47 18.6% 104 11.4% 5 or more times 1 0.6% 4 3.1% 66 18.2% 104 41.1% 175 19.1% In the past 3 months, how many times have you gotten drunk? Never 165 98.8% 116 92.1% 224 62.2% 102 40.0% 607 66.9% 1 or 2 times 0 0.0% 5 4.0% 68 18.9% 52 20.4% 125 13.8% 3 or 4 times 0 0.0% 2 1.6% 38 10.6% 40 15.7% 80 8.8% 5 or more times 2 1.2% 3 2.4% 30 8.3% 61 23.9% 96 10.6% In the past year, how often used a drug other than alcohol to get high? Never 113 98.3% 96 91.4% 267 74.2% 138 53.9% 614 73.4% 1 or 2 times 2 1.7% 4 3.8% 29 8.1% 36 14.1% 71 8.5% 3 or 4 times 0 0.0% 1 1.0% 15 4.2% 15 5.9% 31 3.7% 5 or 6 times 0 0.0% 1 1.0% 6 1.7% 8 3.1% 15 1.8% More than 6 times 0 0.0% 3 2.9% 43 11.9% 59 23.0% 105 12.6%
In general, the findings are quite positive. The findings suggest that the students surveyed havehigh levels of Developmental Assets in place. In addition, analysis of the relationship between theDevelopmental Asset categories and alcohol and drug use indicates that many of the DevelopmentalAssets are protective; that is, the presence of an asset is associated with lower involvement ininappropriate behaviors. Thus, strengthening the Developmental Assets of students should contribute tothe prevention of risk behaviors. While the results are positive, one problem area was the use of alcohol and drugs among the 10thand 12 graders. Nearly one fourth of 12th graders indicated getting drunk five or more times in the past ththree months. The results presented in the body of the report suggested that one segment of this groupmay be individuals with high participation in activities, especially sports. This suggests that the use ofalcohol may be part of a set of social norms. These results are similar to those from the 2005 survey. It should be noted that the Developmental Asset categories are very broad constructs. Thesummary tables do not fully reflect some of the variation within the developmental asset categories. Inaddition, even though the overall scores are positive, noteworthy proportions of students had low scoresin some categories. Some additional findings of note follow. While parental support was high, about one-fourth of all students indicated feeling too much pressure from parents to do well. About half of the students indicated getting support from teachers, but only 30% of all students indicated feeling that teachers cared about them. Students indicated feeling that school rules were clear, but not necessarily family rules. In addition, it appeared that punishment for breaking family rules was not consistent. An inverse relationship between the clarity of family rules and involvement in risk behavior such as alcohol or drug use was found. Students indicated knowing how to set limits, but they also indicated acting without thinking. Thus, even though they were high on the Social Competence category, there is the potential for impulsive behavior to override self-regulatory behavior. By 10th grade over 25% of the students indicated cheating on a test two or more times in the past year. About two-thirds of 10th and 12th graders indicated copying homework two or more times in the past year. Implications of the Results The results of the survey indicated that most students possess high levels of the developmentassets. In general, there was little change from the results of the 2005 survey. Given the high levels ofDevelopmental Assets, this is positive since it indicates that those levels have continued. There are,however, some areas that merit further consideration. There appears to be a fair amount of alcohol use that may be occurring among students participating in athletic programs. This result also was found in the 2005 survey. This suggests that a concerted effort may be needed to address the risk associated with alcohol use among these students. There were very clear positive relationships between the Developmental Assets and lower involvement in risk behaviors. While many students have high scores for the assets, exploring measures that may strengthen the assets for at risk students should be considered. Cheating in school has become a national problem, and the survey’s results indicate the problem also is present in these students. It may be useful to explore approaches for reducing cheating.
There was an identified relationship between thrill seeking and impulse control, and high- risk behavior. While students indicated being able to say “no,” they also indicated that impulses could reduce resistance. Developing programs that focus not only on resistance, but impulse control, may be worthwhile. In addition, targeting high-risk students such as those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may be of value. The results of the survey, in an appropriate format, should be made available not only to adults in the community, but also the students. Giving back the results is empowering, and an opportunity to open discussion about the issues examined in the survey. The results may also be applicable in a number of classes as illustrations of concepts. Sharing the results can be a useful approach for strengthening student and community engagement in the school.