Successful high schools don’t just mean higher academic achievement, a new study finds. They may also mean healthier behaviors among teens.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, compared students from highly rated charter high schools with those from regular public high schools—all located in low-income Los Angeles neighborhoods.
The researchers found that students from the charter schools not only performed much better on math and English standard tests. These students also reported less very risky health behaviors, including unprotected sex, carrying a weapon, and gang membership, compared to district school students.
Retention in the same school may be the most important factor, they found.
However, the effects were much less dramatic when it came to more moderate health risks. In fact, when the researchers looked at recent use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, there was virtually no difference between the two groups.
To select the two groups of students, the researchers took advantage of the lottery admissions system used by many charter schools. Continue reading