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Bullying affects high school test scores

Students attending high schools dominated by bullies are more likely to have lower standardized test scores, a new study shows.

Researchers in Virginia found that schoolwide passing rates on three different standardized exams (Algebra I, Earth Science and World History) were 3 percent to 6 percent lower in schools where students reported a more severe bullying climate. The findings also show that bullying is a pervasive problem, they said.

"This research underscores the importance of treating bullying as a schoolwide problem," Dewey Cornell, a clinical psychologist and a professor of education at the University of Virginia, said.

The researchers compiled surveys about bullying from more than 7,300 ninth-graders and 3,000 teachers at 284 Virginia high schools. Even a 3 percent to 6 percent drop in test scores associated with bullying is significant, they say.

The researchers argued poor academic performance was due to students being less engaged in learning when they are afraid about bullying. They noted that bullying programs should provide counseling and discipline for bullies as well as help for victims. -- HealthDay