CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Prevalence of bullying on campus may hurt high-school student test performance, U.S. researchers suggest.
Dewey Cornell, a clinical psychologist and professor of education at the University of Virginia, and colleagues compiled surveys about bullying in 2007 from more than 7,300 ninth-grade students and almost 3,000 teachers at 284 high schools located across Virginia. The survey defined bullying as "the use of one's strength or popularity to injure, threaten or embarrass another person on purpose."
About two-thirds of the students were white, 22 percent were African-American and 5 percent were Hispanic, Cornell says.
The study finds that schoolwide passing rates on standardized exams for Algebra I, Earth Science and World History were 3 percent to 6 percent lower in schools where students reported more severe bullying.
"This difference is substantial because it affects the school's ability to meet federal requirements and the educational success of many students who don't pass the exams," Cornell says in a statement.
Schools are under immense pressure to improve standardized test scores because of the No Child Left Behind Act, Cornell adds.
"This study supports the case for schoolwide bullying prevention programs as a step to improve school climate and facilitate academic achievement," Cornell says.
The findings were presented at the 119th annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington.