Epidemiological Findings about Military-Connected Students From the Building Capacity Project
from the Building Capacity Project
Public schools serving military-connected students have never systematically collected data on the social and academic needs and strengths of this population. In the past, schools may have made some conclusions regarding both the academic performance and the emotional and behavioral issues confronting these students, based on anecdotal reports, sporadic or one-time surveys, or stereotypes.
Within the scientific literature, studies on military-connected students are typically focused on clinical samples. To date, there is a paucity of normative samples and epidemiological research on military-connected students.
The Building Capacity to Create Highly Supportive Military-Connected School Districts Project is based on a model implemented successfully throughout Israel. The Building Capacity is a partnership between eight military-connected districts in Southern California (approximately 117,000 students, 10.1% of whom are military) and the University of Southern California (USC). It is one of the largest translational social work led research projects in the nation.
One of the overarching goals of Building Capacity is to implement a sustainable monitoring system in all Consortium districts and schools. To this end, the Consortium partnered with WestED and the State of California to create a reliable Military School Module. Currently, all California schools administer the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) – a “statewide survey of resilience, protective factors, and risk behavior,” (WestEd, 2011). The Military School Module was administered as part of the CHKS and piloted in the Spring of 2011. A large scale normative sample of 32,000 students from 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11thgrade from military connected schools participated in the CHKS. This is the first large-scale non-clinical epidemiological work on issues related to military connected students.
The symposium will highlight epidemiological results surrounding mental health/suicide, school victimization, substance use, and discrimination and bullying. Each presentation will compare military-connected and non-military connected students on a particular issue, and provide further insights into the complex and unique circumstances facing military-connected students in public school settings. Overall, military-connected students are showing great needs in all areas examined. Deployments and family circumstances are accounting for a large proportion of both positive and negative outcomes. Taken together, these epidemiological results provide researchers and decision-makers evidence that school outcomes are influenced heavily by the war. Schools could address these issues by directly focusing on issues of parental deployments.