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APPC identifies student mental health as important source of state and national differences in adolescent educational achievement

An analysis by Annenberg Public Policy Center researchers Sharon Sznitman and Dan Romer shows that international and U.S. state differences in the emotional well-being of adolescents are strongly related to their overall levels of academic achievement. In addition, these differences are strongly related to levels of poverty at the national and state level. The article reporting these findings was recently posted online by the Journal of Adolescent Heath.
The data compiled in the study (see Figures 1A-F below) indicate that states and countries with low levels of children living in poverty have higher levels of academic achievement controlling for a range of economic and other factors, including IQ. For example, North Dakota’s adolescents, who ranked high in academic achievement as assessed by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, live in a state that has a very low level of child poverty. It is not likely that North Dakota has a particularly stronger teaching corps, and the state actually spent less on average per student than the average of the 39 states in the study.