Between 10% and 30% of school age children live with a chronic illness that has the potential to impact their participation in school. For some, chronic illness results in occasional days absent, for others, there are recurrent medical appointments and bouts of poor health requiring time away from school. Quantifying the impact of chronic illness on a child’s education and academic outcomes has been challenging. Using linked data from over 300 000 children attending NSW schools, we have examined the impact of hospitalisation for a chronic condition on NAPLAN (Australia’s standardised school assessment) completion and performance.
Our new analysis shows children with a chronic illness are more likely to miss sitting the NAPLAN, and when they do complete the NAPLAN assessment, they are more likely to perform below national minimum standards. Children hospitalised with chronic condition even only once had 25-37% increased odds of performing below national minimum standards in reading and 36%–42% increased odds of performing below national minimum standards in numeracy. Children hospitalised for mental health/behavioural conditions, cardiovascular or neurological conditions appeared to be at particular risk of performing below standards on NAPLAN assessment.
What does this mean?
Children with chronic illness are at risk of underperforming in standardised academic assessment, and are also likely to miss assessment. Current policies and support only go part way to addressing the needs of students with chronic illness. Integrated interventions that incorporate health, education, and psychological support, specifically for students with chronic illness is desperately needed to stop these vulnerable children falling through gaps between hospital and school.
Co-authored by Dr Joanna Fardell (@jefardell) and Dr Nan Hu (@hnnathanhu)
To read the full paper click here