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Health & Academics Data & Statistics

This page provides data about the association between youth risk behaviors and students’ academic achievement. These data are collected through the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), administered by CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health.

The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) monitors priority health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. It is conducted every 2 years during the spring and provides data representative of 9th- through 12th-grade students in public and private schools throughout the nation.

In 2009, students completing the YRBS were asked, “During the past 12 months, how would you describe your grades in school?” and given seven response options (Mostly A’s, Mostly B’s, Mostly C’s, Mostly D’s, Mostly F’s, None of these grades, Not sure). In 2009, 31% of students received mostly A’s, 40% received mostly B’s, 19% received mostly C’s, 6% received mostly D’s or F’s, and 4% reported receiving none of these grades or not sure.

Note


The survey question about students’ academic grades is included periodically in the National YRBS and was asked most recently in 2009. Therefore, these analyses represent the most current data available.

Association Between Health-Risk Behaviors and Academic Grades

Data from YRBSS show a negative association between health-risk behaviors and academic achievement among high school students, after controlling for sex, race/ethnicity, and grade level. This means that students with higher grades are less likely to engage in health-risk behaviors than their classmates with lower grades, and students who do not engage in health-risk behaviors receive higher grades than their classmates who do engage in health-risk behaviors.

These associations do not prove causation. Further research is needed to determine whether low grades lead to health-risk behaviors, health-risk behaviors lead to low grades, or some other factors lead to both of these problems.

Fact Sheets (2009 YRBS)


Slide Sets (2009 YRBS)


Percentage of high school students who engaged in selected risk behaviors, by type of grades earned — United States, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2009


Bar Graph (image title): Percentage of high hchool students who engaged in selected risk behaviors. Summary of graph data: The percentage of students who carried a gun that make mostly A's (12), mostly B's (16), mostly C's (21), and mostly D's/F's (37). Percentage of students that currently use cigarettes that make mostly A's (10), mostly B's (19), mostly C's (27), and mostly D's/F's (45). Percentage of students that currently use alcohol that make mostly A's (32), mostly B's (43), mostly C's (51), and mostly D's/F's (62). Percentage of students that are currently sexually active that make mostly A's (24), mostly B's (34), mostly C's (43), and mostly D's/F's (54). Percentage of students that watch television 3 or more hours per day that make mostly A's (24), mostly B's (32), mostly C's (39), and mostly D's/F's (49). Percentage of students that are physically active at least 60 minutes per day on fewer than 5 days that make mostly A's (56), mostly B's (63), mostly C's (68), and mostly D's/F's (76).
* This means that 12% of students with mostly A's carried a weapon and 37% of students with mostly D's or F's carried a weapon.

 

 

 
  
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