District explores students? developmental assets and looks for improvements

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY JULIE ANDERSON
In an effort to improve students? experiences in school, officials gave students a number of questions to answer about their internal and external assets.



The questions, administered last fall, probe students? commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, positive identity, support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations and constructive use of time.



The goal of the school is to heighten awareness of the community members of things they can do to increase the internal and external assets of kids.



?To me, you look at this and say how can we do better, not how can we solve the problem,? said Gordon Mohn, superintendent.



Areas with lower scores include students? perceptions of a caring school climate, how much the community values youth, students? planning and students? decision making.



To help increase the assets, school officials will meet with community members and students, as well as try to tie in some of the communities in the schools? efforts. A community meeting will be held sometime this month to determine which areas to work on.



?The real impact will come from the community,? Mohn said.



He said the goal was not to achieve 100 percent on all of the assets, but to increase the percentages.



Although Hillsboro students scored above the national average in all but one area, creative activities, there is still concern.



?Thirty-four percent of our young persons sees that adults in the community value them,? Mohn said. ?Well, that?s above the national average, so is that a reason to celebrate? Yes, probably. But six out of 10 kids wouldn?t answer yes to that, and that?s not a reason to celebrate.?



Mohn said he did not provide the national scores when he presented the results to the school board because he didn?t want it to affect how they looked at Hillsboro?s results.



To improve some of the areas, Mohn wants to do two or three things in the community and two or three things in the school.



Mohn said he is disappointed in the results of the question on whether the school provides a caring climate, which was answered favorably by only 38 percent of the students. He said as a follow up, students need to be asked what the school can do to improve the climate and what things indicate an uncaring attitude.



?I don?t know what we will hear back from kids, but those are the kinds of conversations I think we should have,? Mohn said.



He also said they will look at deficit behaviors, but instead of using punishments they will work to encourage positive behaviors.



He said when looking at the information there are all kinds of opportunities to raise assets.



The results of the questions did vary according to age.



?The younger children usually have more of the assets and it seems to decline as children get older,? Mohn said. ?Part of that may be that process of growing up.?

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