stressed Asian-American students in schools

January 4, 2009

This MercuryNews.com article, High grades, high stress for Asian-American students in Bay Area, citing unrealistic expectations and the distressing negative impact like stress and suicide:

That means straight A’s so far this year at a school that boasts the eighth-highest test scores in the state — and where students and teachers both joke about the “Asian grade scale”:

A = Average; B = Bad; C = Catastrophe; D = Disowned; F = Forever Forgotten.

They may just be kidding, but there’s some truth lurking below: Many Asian parents, especially well-educated immigrants, set sky-high expectations for their children. And while that drive to achieve has put Asian students as a group at the top of the class, it’s also forcing some uncomfortable conversations within the Asian community about the damage those demands may cause.

At Mission in the Fremont Unified School District, where 75 percent of the student body is Asian, a majority of students think their parents’ expectations are too high, according to a survey conducted a year ago. ?More alarming, half of the 1,175 kids answering the survey showed signs of depression or burnout.

And matching national estimates, the survey showed that 80 percent have cheated on homework and 70 percent have cheated on tests.

… In the 25-to-34 age group, Asian-Americans have the highest proportion of suicides as a cause of death — 16.8 percent — of any racial group, according to Eliza Noh, assistant professor of Asian-American studies at California State University-Fullerton, who has researched suicide.

… Asian-American students internalize those expectations, she said. “If they don’t fulfill it, they feel there’s something wrong with them.”

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One solution the article suggests is readjusting priorities and reducing stress. What are other ways of developing healthier students?

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