This is the first large-scale population study to look at how children hospitalized with chronic illness perform compared to their peers. The findings are published in
Researchers analyzed data from a population group of all children born in NSW between 2000 and 2006, with a focus on their NAPLAN results when they were in grades 3, 5 and 7.
The NAPLAN test, which children in grades 3, 5, 7 and 9 need to sit annually measures students’ academic skills in reading, writing, spelling, numeracy, grammar and punctuation.
These trajectories are really predictive of later life outcomes, and can predict whether they complete school, get a job, how they interact in society and even their health and wellbeing.
Though the available dataset included only results from public schools (over 300,000 children in total), it accounted for about two thirds of students in NSW.
They identified around 16-18 per cent of students in these grades had been hospitalized with a chronic condition before their scheduled NAPLAN tests using a combination of routine birth records and hospital admission records.
“These results show that there’s a significant proportion of children in NSW who are facing this challenge,” says co-lead author Dr Joanna Fardell, a senior research fellow at UNSW and neuropsychologist at Westmead Hospital.
Children with physical or behavioral disabilities receive support from government and schools to help their access to education but children hospitalized due to chronic illness often fall through these support gaps.
Researchers hope to build on this research with more population and intervention-based studies to learn more about the students who need help, and also for finding the best ways to support them.