Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2012
 
CONTACT
Russ Reno, Communications and Legislative Services, (o) 402-471-8287, (c) 402-450-7318 russ.reno@nebraska.gov)
 
Study Finds State Wards Twice as Likely to Perform Poorly in School
 
Lincoln – Academically, children who are wards of the Department of Health and Human Services are twice as likely to perform poorly in school as other students, according to a study commissioned by DHHS and conducted by the Nebraska Department of Education.
 
“The educational system plays an important role in serving these children and youth,” said Children and Family Services Director Thomas Pristow. “This study is a baseline for both DHHS and NDE as we look at how the lives of wards are affected during their educational years.”
 
"Nebraska educators are committed to improving the academic and vocational outcomes for all children," said NDE Commissioner Dr. Roger Breed. "We look forward to provide a system of support that helps youth develop the skills, knowledge and relationships to become successful."
 
Pristow pointed to the difference in graduation rates that showed while 87.4 percent of non-wards graduated in 2010-11, only 43.7 percent of wards received a diploma.
 
Adding to their academic challenges, state wards were absent from school twice as many days (15.94 days), compared to other students (7.76 days), he said.
 
Pristow said the study revealed state wards’ average scores in math, reading and science are lower than their counterparts, and the disparity increases as they age.
 
Grade
Mathematics
Reading
Science
Non-Ward Grade 4
102.96
109.28
96.48
Ward Grade 4
88.26
94.35
95.45
Non-Ward Grade 8
98.76
106.82
89.90
Ward Grade 8
62.85
75.76
69.90
Non-Ward Grade 11
96.36
103.43
88.55
Ward Grade 11
50.61
64.71
62.16
  
State wards also are more likely to change schools, he said. The study found that 25.2 percent of state wards enroll in two or more schools during the academic year, but only 4.2 percent of non-ward students face that number of school changes. 
 
A greater percentage of state wards (36.2 percent) are identified for special education compared to non-wards (16.6 percent), he said.
 
“We sincerely appreciate the assistance of NDE to examine the results of the educational experiences of state wards,” Pristow said. “We’re happy to work with NDE to better understand the reasons behind these numbers and to identify what can be done to improve the performance of state wards so they have a better chance in life.”
 
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