How Assets Can Make a Difference in Education

Developmental Assets “step back to look at the whole, comprehensive vision of what young people need to thrive,” which is unlike many programs that focus on particular areas of need for youth development but those areas remain disconnected (Benson, 2011). More importantly, research has shown that the more assets a child has, the more likely they are to have positive attitudes and positive life outcomes.

STEPS concentrates on the 40 Developmental Assets, goal-focused, measurable factors of adolescent development which has been proven to be effective through a program regimen called Building Assets Reducing Risks [BARR] which reduces academic failure, closes the achievement gap, increases attendance, decreases the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and improves conditions for learning.

BARR was first implemented by St. Louis Park High School in Minnesota and found increased scores of Advanced Placement testing as well as growth in the number of demographics participating in honors courses. Benson (2011) and fellow researchers examined failed courses in this Minnesota high school in 1998. The Search Institute found 44% of ninth grade students had failed at least one class. After the first year of implementation of BARR, that number fell to 28%. Since then, the percentage has not exceeded 26%. In 2010-2011 school years, only 15% of students were failing one course, 8% failing two or more. Beyond academics, in six years, tobacco use in males was decreased from 19% to 7%. The average in Minnesota during those years was between 14-19%. The implementation of BARR was a determining factor for St. Louis Park High School in the reduction of drug use and an increase in student’s taking honors courses. The reduction of drug use also could have been a determining factor in the student’s recent academic successes.

For information and more research on the 40 assets, please visit: http://www.search-institute.org/research-and-publications