Girl at Chalkboard - Impact of ACEs on Education

Children who have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) report higher instances of having problems in school.

According to a 2015 publication by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, instances of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction occurring before the age of 18 can disrupt brain development and limit one’s social, emotional, and cognitive functioning.

Because of this disruption, ACEs are the root cause of many serious academic, social and behavioral problems that have the potential to prevent a child from receiving the full benefits of education (Kauffman, 2016). Multiple studies have found a correlation between students’ ACE scores and academic performance. In fact, an ACE score of 3 or higher makes children 32 times more likely to struggle in school. (Harris, 2017).

In turn, ACEs have been linked to low grade performance, special education, suspension, and expulsion (Balfanz and Fox, 2012). Additionally, in a widespread and renowned study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found that students who had endured 3 or more ACEs were 2.5 times more likely to fail a grade.

Behavioral issues in the classroom are often results of trauma as well. Regarding kids with an ACE score of 3 or higher, a 2014 study by doctors David Murphey and Kristin Moore found:

  • 48% reported low engagement in school
  • 44% had trouble staying calm and controlled in the classroom
  • 49% had difficulties finishing the tasks
  • 23% were diagnosed with a learning disability

Unfortunately, because the effects of ACEs can mimic a myriad of other problems— including ADHD— the symptoms of childhood trauma are often left misdiagnosed. In addition to this, children who are suffering from Adverse Childhood Experiences may find it difficult to form secure relationships with their teachers, and as the traditional school model calls for disciplinary action over support or attention, struggling children are often led into even greater isolation.

These and other factors can lead to startling outcomes.

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Although evidence shows that kids who experience trauma are more likely to face difficulties in school, this does not mean that they cannot be academically successful.

With the future in mind, Idaho Youth Ranch helps young people make meaning their experiences, and gain the confidence needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond. Get help for you child you love today.