40 Developmental Assets
The idea of promoting positive assets in youth represents a shift in thinking about how we develop positive, successful individuals. Years ago, schools only reacted to student choices with consequences or praise. Now we know that youth are more successful in life when we consistently take a proactive approach to fostering their social-emotional development along with their academic development.
Decades of research into the 40 assets model lets us know that the more assets youth have – within themselves or their families and communities – the more likely it is they will make healthy safe choices.
During the 2008-2009 school year, we surveyed students in grades 4-12 on their assets and their attitudes toward school and life. The results of that survey indicated, among other things, that: students did not feel as though they were valuable members of their communities; they felt less connection with adults as they got older; and they were not engaging in independent reading outside of school by choice.
The Orange City School District has taken steps to implement programs that target these assets among students within the district. Students across the school district will participate in the survey process again during this school year.
Here are some of the programs we have launched as a result of our work with the 40 developmental assets in Orange:
- There has been a concentrated effort to decrease bullying behaviors at Moreland Hills Elementary and Brady Middle School. At MHS, teachers and counselors developed a student—run mediation program to resolve problems between students and to decrease negative, harmful behaviors.
- At Brady Middle School, Challenge Day and PRIDE activities are designed to reinforce the value of each individual student and adult within the District, and to decrease hurtful statements that can sometimes be said in adolescence.
- At Orange High School, a pilot mentoring project is underway to provide additional support and resources to 9th grade students as they transition from middle school to high school.
- The District sponsored a public screening of the feature-length documentary Race to Nowhere to increase awareness among students, parents, staff and community members about the pressures and stress placed on adolescents in high-achieving cultures. Students in particular were invited to share their perspectives on school work, stress and the learning environment as a part of the conversation following the film.
- Student-led conferences at Brady Middle School seek to engage students as partners with parents and teachers in their academic progress. This is designed to value student voice in the school experience.
There is a general consensus across the District that, as new programs are developed, we must engage students in the change process in order to gather their feedback and insights. This was driven largely from our work in the 40 assets project. It is our hope that results from this year’s survey will indicate we are making progress toward our goals of promoting positive development among all the youth we serve within the District.