Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deployments hurt military kids academically

A new RAND Corporation study finds children suffer academically when a parent is deployed for long months overseas. In North Carolina, with several military bases and thousands of soldiers deployed each year, that's troubling.

The study looked at more than 44,000 students in North Carolina and Washington State who had parents in the active Army or National Guard who were deployed between 2002 and 2008.
They found that children with a parent deployed for 19 months or more have lower test scores than their peers. They found that every month a parent is gone seems to hurt academic achievement a little. The impact on academics falls most heavily on middle school students. The problem is not statistically significant for high school students.

RAND was asked by the Army to examine the effects of parental deployments on children's academic performance as well as their emotional and behavioral well-being in the school setting. The academic problems were the same no matter the state or the academic subject. They were also consistent across rank, seniority, gender of the deploying parent, and gender of the child.

The report only looked at test scores and researchers noted that there are other "dimensions to academic success and learning not captured in this measure."

Among struggles identified for children of deployed soldiers? Homework completion, school attendance, and the impact of new household chores. School officials said they don't have adequate resources to help these children and their parents access the psychological and behavioral health services they may need to deal with the stresses of deployment.

Among the RAND recommendations? Include additional military resources to help kids with their homework. Increase transportation services to facilitate participation after-school activities. Provide better information to schools on deployments and better education about the military culture to educators and mental health professionals.

Read the report at http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1095.html1