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Health Problems are a Barrier to Learning, say New York City School Administrators

New York City schools say health issues are a significant problem in their classrooms, according to our newly-published paper in the peer-reviewed journal SAGE Open.

In partnership with the city’s Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, Children’s Health Fund asked principals and assistant principals at public elementary and middle schools about health problems among their students. Out of a sample of 408 administrators, 63% considered asthma to be a barrier to learning in their school. Vision problems (57 percent) and poor diet (55 percent) were also seen as interfering with student success.

More administrators from high-poverty schools identified these issues as barriers to learning than their colleagues at schools with less poverty.

Learning disabilities (87 percent), disruptive behaviors (86 percent), and depression, anxiety, or stress (63 percent) were the health issues most often identified as barriers.

The study concludes that “comprehensive screening for medical, mental health, and psychosocial conditions” should be a “national priority,” especially for the most economically disadvantaged children. It adds that many of these health issues – such as vision problems, hearing problems and dental pain – are relatively straightforward to identify and treat.

To learn more, read the study.