January #1 and #2

January #1 and #2 and all previous ERR newsletters can be found at:

You have read this article with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2009/01/january-1-and-2.html. Thanks!

January #9

Beyond Tinkering: Creating Real Opportunities for Today's Learners and for Generations of Ohioans to Come

Bolder action is required and the pace of improvement must be accelerated. We must find ways to scale up our successes. We can no longer defend—or tolerate—an industrial-age school model that is out of step with the demands of the 21st century in which jobs, careers and workplaces are learning-intensive, and where people often have many jobs over the course of their lifetimes. We can no longer be satisfied with a school model that structures instruction and learning for a fast disappearing industrial era.

Ohio needs to (1) significantly increase education attainment levels for all of its citizens, (2) align much more closely the knowledge and skills of its high school graduates with the expectations of college and the workplace, (3) close persistent achievement gaps, (4) better prepare its young people to compete internationally, and (5) make learning more relevant to young people’s lives.

Ohio Grantmakers Forum (OGF) and its partners engaged in an open and honest assessment of the performance of Ohio’s schools and the students they serve. That is the basis for the recommendations presented in Beyond Tinkering: Creating Real Opportunities for Today’s Learners and for Generations of Ohioans to Come:

Recommendation #1: Create Ohio Innovation Zones and an Incentive Fund. Seed transformative educational innovation by attracting and building on promising school and instructional models; introduce district-wide innovations that personalize and deepen teaching and learning; and eliminate operational and regulatory barriers.

Recommendation #2: Focus on transforming low-performing schools. Develop a statewide plan targeting the 10 percent of lowest-performing schools; focus on research-based best practices; Ohio Grantmakers Forum | January 2009 3 create a coordinating body to lead the work; and reassess and reallocate school improvement dollars.

Recommendation #3: Develop a statewide P-16 education technology plan. Develop a plan that addresses technology as a diagnostic tool and an approach to instruction and data management; improves teacher capacity in using technology; identifies ways to close the “equity gap”; and enhances agility and flexibility.

Recommendation #4: Develop a “graduate profile.” This profile, which will be used to establish the next generation of academic standards, should identify the foundational content and skills (i.e., work-related skills, international workplace expectations, technology skills, learning and thinking skills, citizenship skills and other competencies identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills) that all graduates should master.

Recommendation #5: Reevaluate and revise Ohio’s academic standards. Ensure that standards are aligned to college and career expectations, benchmarked internationally and streamlined to focus on depth vs. breadth, and include 21st century skills. Grade-level standards should be replaced with course-specific standards in grades 7-12.

Recommendation #6: Revise the state’s assessment and accountability framework. Develop a new system that informs and improves the quality and consistency of instruction and learning, has multiple measures, ascertains whether students are meeting important mileposts during their school careers, and holds schools accountable. Specifically, expand K-8 assessments so there is a greater focus on performance assessments and significantly revamp the current grade 9-12 exams: • Replace the Ohio Graduation Test with endof- course exams (grades 9-12). • Participate in an international assessment that allows for international benchmarking and comparisons. • Adopt EPAS battery of assessments—i.e., Explore (8th and 9th grades), Plan (10th grade) and ACT (11th and 12th grades). • Institute a 12th-grade Capstone Project. _ Recommendation #7: Provide instructional supports to promote high-quality teaching and learning. Facilitate the development of performance assessments and corresponding rubrics; act as a clearinghouse for curriculum frameworks, lesson plans and instructional methods; and provide high-quality professional development.

Recommendation #8: Strengthen standards and evaluation for teachers and principals. Amend the teacher and principal standards in key areas; develop a deployment strategy for the standards; create model hiring and evaluation protocols based on the standards; and provide teacher-level, value-added reports with the appropriate privacy precautions.

Recommendation #9: Improve Ohio’s teaching and learning conditions. Provide financial incentives to encourage schools and districts to implement changes to improve teaching and learning environments; strengthen the awarding of tenure; ensure high-quality professional development; and reconcile the language of teacher dismissal to that of other public employees.

Recommendation #10: Develop a new educator compensation system. Create a task force to develop new educator compensation system models that broaden and strengthen the pool of individuals who are attracted to and retained in teaching and school leadership; and improve the connections among compensation, teaching excellence and higher levels of student learning.

Recommendation #11: Ensure an equitable distribution of high-quality teachers and principals across all schools. Develop and implement strategies that ensure effective educators teach and lead in all Ohio schools; provide innovation and incentive grants to develop graduate-level teacher residency programs and principal leadership programs; and design programs that provide time for teacher collaboration and planning, team teaching, reorganization of the school day/year and other innovative practices.

Full report: http://www.ohiograntmakers.org/FileDownload.cfm?file=OGF%5FREPORT%5FFINAL%5F1%2E20%2E09%2Epdf

National graduation rates are not accurate

Groundbreaking analysis of the Current Population Survey (CPS) finds that the reported national graduation rates are not accurate, according to a new report from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Policy Information Center.
The analysis finds lower graduation rates and larger gaps between majority and minority populations than was reported by the Census Bureau and generally lower rates than reported by individual states.
Chasing the High School Graduation Rate: Getting the Data We Need and Using It Right examines data indicating that a much greater investment is needed in the national Census Bureau survey showing what percentage of the population, from different age and sub-groups, has graduated from high school. In addition, the report specifies the additional data and quality control needed to enable the National Center for Education Statistics to make more accurate estimates of state graduation rates. The report was written by Paul E. Barton, a Senior Associate for the ETS Policy Information Center.
“Despite the prominence of this issue, we are still unable to produce statistics that would offer accurate data on the percentage of students that graduate from high school each year,” says Barton. “We are unlikely to obtain the data needed to address the dropout problem without the necessary funding to accurately measure graduation rates.”
Barton recognizes the major efforts being made in many states, led by the National Governor’s Association, to develop longitudinal student tracking systems for accountability purposes. But, he says, “We need multiple measures of high school completion, a single one won’t do the job.”
Job opportunities have become increasingly scarce for young people starting their adulthood without a high school diploma. The proportion of teenagers without a diploma who have jobs has decreased, and the wages of those who do get jobs has fallen. Beyond the hardship to those who leave school without a diploma are the consequences for society — dropouts pay less in taxes, are more likely to depend on subsidized health care and public assistance, and are more likely to be incarcerated.
According to Barton, the difficulty in determining the graduation rate stems from a number of factors including how the information is gathered by the Census Bureau and how it is reported by the states.
Findings in the report suggest that the following steps be taken to greatly improve graduation rate estimates:
• Schools should report the number of students entering the ninth grade at the beginning of the year, not just total enrollment.
• States, in addition to reporting enrollments by whether students are freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors, should also report whether they are first-, second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- or sixth-year students.
• States should break down the number of diplomas issued each year by the number of years the student was enrolled in a high school and what the student has reported about previous enrollment in other high schools.
• Identify diplomas by type, since more and more types have come into play.
• Assure that the data collected on gender, race and ethnicity are of sufficient quality to disaggregate the estimate.
In 2008, the Census Bureau took a major step forward by transferring the collection of graduation rates from the CPS to the American Community Survey (ACS), which includes the prison and military populations and has greater coverage of the population. However, Barton says, “The single question they ask now is insufficient, and we need to have the same reliability for a measure of the graduation rate that we have for the national unemployment rate.”
Barton says, “The ultimate goal here is to help more students graduate and to create incentives for schools to accomplish this. To do this we need to be able to accurately measure the rate at regular intervals and apply what we learn in constructive ways that increase graduation rates.”
Download the full report, Chasing the High School Graduation Rate:Getting the Data We Need and Using It Right:


Foreign-Born Exceed the Native-Born in Advanced Degrees

A larger percentage of foreign-born than native-born residents had a master’s degree or higher in 2007, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Nationally, 11 percent of foreign-born — people from another country now living in the United States — and 10 percent of U.S.-born residents had an advanced degree.
These statistics come from Educational Attainment in the United States: 2007, a report that describes the degree or level of school completed by adults 25 and older.
In the West, the percentage of foreign-born who had completed at least a bachelor’s degree or higher was less than the percentage of the native-born (24 percent compared with 31 percent). Among the foreign-born, those living in the Northeast had the highest percentage of bachelor’s degrees or more (32 percent), which was the same as their native-born counterparts. The foreign-born in the South (26 percent) and Midwest (31 percent) were more likely than native-born residents to have at least a college degree (25 percent and 26 percent, respectively).
Across all regions, a smaller percentage of foreign-born than native-born adults had completed at least a high school education.
This is the first Census Bureau report on educational attainment to use data from both the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey. Combining these two data sets not only provides a state-by state comparison of educational attainment, it allows an examination of historical trends.
Other highlights from the report include:
• 84 percent of adults 25 and older had completed high school, while 27 percent had obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in 2007.
• A larger proportion of women (85 percent) than men (84 percent) had completed high school, but a larger proportion of men had earned a bachelor’s degree (28 percent compared with 27 percent).
• The percentage of high school graduates was highest in the Midwest (87 percent), and the percentage of college graduates was highest in the Northeast (32 percent).
• Men earned more than women at each level of educational attainment. The percentage of female-to-male earnings among year-round, full-time workers 25 and older was 77 percent.
• Workers with a bachelor’s degree on average earned about $20,000 more a year ($46,805) than workers with a high school diploma ($26,894). Compared with non-Hispanic whites and Asians, black and Hispanic workers earned less at all attainment levels.
The data in this report are from the 2007 American Community Survey (ACS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 2008 and earlier. Statistics from surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For more information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, see Appendix G at http://www.census.gov/apsd/techdoc/cps/cpsmar08.pdf

Physically Fit Kids Do Better in School

A new study in the Journal of School Health found that physically fit kids scored better on standardized math and English tests than their less fit peers.

Researchers examined the relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement in a racially and economically diverse urban public school district of children enrolled in grades 4 – 8 during the 2004 – 2005 academic year.

Results of their study show that there is a significant relationship between students’ academic achievement and physical fitness. The odds of passing both standardized math and English tests increased as the number of fitness tests passed increased, even when controlling for gender, race/ethnicity, and socio-economic status.

School time and resources are often diverted from Physical Education and opportunities for physical activity such as recess. However, this study shows that students who do well on fitness tests also do well on math and English standardized tests.

“For families and schools, these results suggest investments of time and resources in physical activity and fitness training may not detract from academic achievement in core subjects, and, may even be beneficial,” the authors conclude.
You have read this article with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2009/01/january-9.html. Thanks!

January #10


A new report released by the not-for-profit, non-partisan National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) finds that the laws and regulations of a majority of states discourage promising new teachers from sticking with the profession, while doing little to identify and move out ineffective teachers.

The report finds that states: 1) do not require sufficient support and evaluation of new teachers, a problem since most districts rarely opt to exceed state requirements; 2) do not require or even allow a teacher’s effectiveness to be considered when granting tenure, although states control how and when tenure is awarded; 3) cling to anachronistic compensation schemes rather than advancing differentiated pay systems; 4) are lagging in the development of the systems necessary for identifying effective teachers; 5) place a disproportionate emphasis on providing pension benefits to retiring teachers at the expense of providing benefits that would appeal to younger teachers; and 6) allow far too many ineffective teachers to remain in the classroom and gain tenure, including teachers who repeatedly fail to meet the state’s own licensing standards.

NCTQ President Kate Walsh said, “The third through fifth years of teaching represent an opportunity lost for teacher quality. That’s certainly when teachers begin to add real value, and it’s also when they tend to make decisions about staying or leaving. States can help districts do much more to ensure that the right teachers stay and the right teachers leave."

The 2008 State Teacher Policy Yearbook finds that state regulations are in need of significant reforms in order to improve teacher quality and offers states specific guidelines for rectifying substandard policies. Each state’s Yearbook, as well as a national summary, is immediately available for free download at www.nctq.org/stpy.

NCTQ, in consultation with over 150 leading thinkers, organizations, and teachers in the country, identified 15 policy goals that support the retention of effective new teachers. While no one state represents a national model for change, NCTQ found South Carolina to be leading other states, earning a rating of B-. South Carolina has particularly noteworthy policies for ensuring that ineffective teachers do not remain in the classroom. Other states with some strong and effective policies in particular areas are Alabama, Ohio, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee, all of which received an overall grade of C. Eight states received a C-, 30 states received a grade in the D range, and six received an F.

Key findings include:

• States' laws ensure that teachers can gain tenure without demonstrating they are effective: States do virtually nothing to establish teachers' effectiveness in the classroom before awarding them permanent employment status—more commonly known as tenure.

• Only 2 states require their school districts to determine if a teacher is effective before they award tenure. 44 states allow teachers to earn tenure in three years or less, which is simply not enough time to accumulate sufficient data on a teacher’s performance.

• 3 states award teachers permanent status after a single year of teaching. States are not playing their part in the identification of effective teachers: Determining which teachers will be effective before they begin to teach remains an elusive goal. The absence of predictive indicators creates a critical need to identify whether teachers are effective as soon as possible, before tenure is awarded.

• Only 23 states require that new teachers be evaluated more than once a year, a necessary component for determining effectiveness.

• Only four states require evidence of student learning to be the preponderant criterion in teacher evaluations.

• Just two states use value-added data to assess teacher effectiveness.

States are complicit in keeping far too many ineffective teachers in the classroom: Although it is local districts that hire and fire teachers, states could do considerably more to ensure that ineffective teachers do not remain in the classroom indefinitely.

• Only 13 states specify that teachers who have been rated unsatisfactory on multiple evaluations should be eligible for dismissal.

• Only half the states require that teachers who receive even one unsatisfactory evaluation are placed on an improvement plan.

• Twenty-two states permit teachers to remain in the classroom for three years or more without passing all required licensing tests.

State policies raise unnecessary barriers for advancing in the profession, and could do much more to influence teachers’ decisions to stay or go: In the areas of compensation, certification and induction, there is much more states could do to support the retention of effective teachers early in their careers.

• More than half of states do not require that local districts provide new teachers with adequate support.

• Eighteen states require districts to pay more to teachers with advanced degrees, which have been shown repeatedly to bear no connection to teacher effectiveness.

• In order to advance from a probationary to a professional license, 20 states require teachers to complete additional coursework that is not specifically targeted to improve their practice.

State pension systems are generally inflexible and unfair to all teachers, but they particularly disadvantage teachers early in their careers: States continue to provide teachers with expensive and inflexible pension plans that do not reflect the realities of the modern workforce.

• Just four states offer teachers a defined contribution plan as their primary pension plan; the portability of these plans can be attractive to an increasingly mobile workforce.

• Pension systems also overly commit districts' resources to retirement benefits, leaving little room to provide benefits that might be of more immediate relevance to new teachers.

While school districts are certainly key players in shaping the quality of their own teaching force, the public may not fully appreciate the considerable role played by states. Without exception, state laws and regulations touch upon every aspect of the teaching profession, having a measurable impact on the quality of new teachers. While the state has long been the traditional licensing body of teachers, nearly every state also has laws on the books which establish the tenure process, retirement benefits, dismissal procedures, evaluation requirements and even pay structures. This report analyzes what each state is doing to identify teachers' effectiveness; support the retention of valuable, early career teachers; and dismiss those found to be ineffective, with each of these factors measured against a realistic blueprint for reform.

Unlike the more comprehensive analysis of all aspects of states' teacher policies provided in the 2007 edition of the State Teacher Policy Yearbook, this year's report focuses on a particular policy issue. The 2009 Yearbook will revisit and reevaluate the states' progress in meeting the full set of goals first analyzed in 2007, as well as the new goals examined this year.

For more information on Yearbook findings at the national and state level, methodology, and background on the report, go to www.nctq.org/stpy.

A study of college freshmen in the United States and in China found that Chinese students know more science facts than their American counterparts -- but both groups are nearly identical when it comes to their ability to do scientific reasoning.
Neither group is especially skilled at reasoning, however, and the study suggests that educators must go beyond teaching science facts if they hope to boost students’ reasoning ability.
Researchers tested nearly 6,000 students majoring in science and engineering at seven universities -- four in the United States and three in China. Chinese students greatly outperformed American students on factual knowledge of physics -- averaging 90 percent on one test, versus the American students’ 50 percent, for example.
But in a test of science reasoning, both groups averaged around 75 percent -- not a very high score, especially for students hoping to major in science or engineering.
The research appears in the January 30, 2009 issue of the journal Science.
Lei Bao, associate professor of physics at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, said that the finding defies conventional wisdom, which holds that teaching science facts will improve students’ reasoning ability.
“Our study shows that, contrary to what many people would expect, even when students are rigorously taught the facts, they don’t necessarily develop the reasoning skills they need to succeed,” Bao said. “Because students need both knowledge and reasoning, we need to explore teaching methods that target both.”
Bao directs Ohio State’s Physics Education Research Group, which is developing new strategies for teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. For this study, he and his colleagues across the United States and in China decided to compare students from both countries, because the educational systems are so different.
In the United States, only one-third of students take a year-long physics course before they graduate from high school. The rest only study physics within general science courses. Curricula vary widely from school to school, and students can choose among elective courses.
In China, however, every student in every school follows exactly the same curriculum, which includes five years of continuous physics classes from grades 8 through 12. All students must perform well on a national exam if they hope to enter college, and the exam contains advanced physics problems.
“Each system has its strengths and weaknesses,” Bao said. “In China, schools emphasize a very extensive learning of STEM content knowledge, while in the United States, science courses are more flexible, with simpler content but with a high emphasis on scientific methods. We need to think of a new strategy, perhaps one that blends the best of both worlds.”
The students who participated in the study were all incoming freshmen who had just enrolled in a calculus-based introductory physics course. They took three multiple-choice tests: two which tested knowledge of physics concepts, and one which tested scientific reasoning.
The first test, the Force Concept Inventory, measures students’ basic knowledge of mechanics -- the action of forces on objects. Most Chinese students scored close to 90 percent, while the American scores varied widely from 25-75 percent, with an average of 50.
The second test, the Brief Electricity and Magnetism Assessment, measures students’ understanding of electric forces, circuits, and magnetism, which are often considered to be more abstract concepts and more difficult to learn than mechanics. Here Chinese students averaged close to 70 percent while American students averaged around 25 percent -- a little better than if they had simply picked their multiple-choice answers randomly.
The third test, the Lawson Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning, measures science skills beyond the facts. Students are asked to evaluate scientific hypotheses, and reason out solutions using skills such as proportional reasoning, control of variables, probability reasoning, correlation reasoning, and hypothetical-deductive reasoning. Both American and Chinese students averaged a 75 percent score.
Bao explained that STEM students need to excel at scientific reasoning in order to handle open-ended real-world tasks in their future careers in science and engineering.
Ohio State graduate student and study co-author Jing Han echoed that sentiment. “To do my own research, I need to be able to plan what I’m going to investigate and how to do it. I can’t just ask my professor or look up the answer in a book,” she said.
“These skills are especially important today, when we are determined to build a society with a sustainable edge in science and technology in a fast-evolving global environment,” Bao said.
He quickly added that reasoning is a good skill for everyone to possess -- not just scientists and engineers.
“The general public also needs good reasoning skills in order to correctly interpret scientific findings and think rationally,” he said._How to boost scientific reasoning? Bao points to inquiry-based learning, where students work in groups, question teachers and design their own investigations. This teaching technique is growing in popularity worldwide.

Skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined

As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children's Digital Media Center, Los Angeles.

Learners have changed as a result of their exposure to technology, says Greenfield, who analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including research on multi-tasking and the use of computers, the Internet and video games. Her research was published this month in the journal Science.
Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not, Greenfield said.
How much should schools use new media, versus older techniques such as reading and classroom discussion?
"No one medium is good for everything," Greenfield said. "If we want to develop a variety of skills, we need a balanced media diet. Each medium has costs and benefits in terms of what skills each develops."
Schools should make more effort to test students using visual media, she said, by asking them to prepare PowerPoint presentations, for example.
"As students spend more time with visual media and less time with print, evaluation methods that include visual media will give a better picture of what they actually know," said Greenfield, who has been using films in her classes since the 1970s.
"By using more visual media, students will process information better," she said. "However, most visual media are real-time media that do not allow time for reflection, analysis or imagination — those do not get developed by real-time media such as television or video games. Technology is not a panacea in education, because of the skills that are being lost.
"Studies show that reading develops imagination, induction, reflection and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary," Greenfield said. "Reading for pleasure is the key to developing these skills. Students today have more visual literacy and less print literacy. Many students do not read for pleasure and have not for decades."
Parents should encourage their children to read and should read to their young children, she said.
Among the studies Greenfield analyzed was a classroom study showing that students who were given access to the Internet during class and were encouraged to use it during lectures did not process what the speaker said as well as students who did not have Internet access. When students were tested after class lectures, those who did not have Internet access performed better than those who did.
"Wiring classrooms for Internet access does not enhance learning," Greenfield said.
Another study Greenfield analyzed found that college students who watched "CNN Headline News" with just the news anchor on screen and without the "news crawl" across the bottom of the screen remembered significantly more facts from the televised broadcast than those who watched it with the distraction of the crawling text and with additional stock market and weather information on the screen.
These and other studies show that multi-tasking "prevents people from getting a deeper understanding of information," Greenfield said.
Yet, for certain tasks, divided attention is important, she added.
"If you're a pilot, you need to be able to monitor multiple instruments at the same time. If you're a cab driver, you need to pay attention to multiple events at the same time. If you're in the military, you need to multi-task too," she said. "On the other hand, if you're trying to solve a complex problem, you need sustained concentration. If you are doing a task that requires deep and sustained thought, multi-tasking is detrimental."
Do video games strengthen skill in multi-tasking?
New Zealand researcher Paul Kearney measured multi-tasking and found that people who played a realistic video game before engaging in a military computer simulation showed a significant improvement in their ability to multi-task, compared with people in a control group who did not play the video game. In the simulation, the player operates a weapons console, locates targets and reacts quickly to events.
Greenfield wonders, however, whether the tasks in the simulation could have been performed better if done alone.
More than 85 percent of video games contain violence, one study found, and multiple studies of violent media games have shown that they can produce many negative effects, including aggressive behavior and desensitization to real-life violence, Greenfield said in summarizing the findings.
In another study, video game skills were a better predictor of surgeons' success in performing laparoscopic surgery than actual laparoscopic surgery experience. In laparoscopic surgery, a surgeon makes a small incision in a patient and inserts a viewing tube with a small camera. The surgeon examines internal organs on a video monitor connected to the tube and can use the viewing tube to guide the surgery.
"Video game skill predicted laparoscopic surgery skills," Greenfield said. "The best video game players made 47 percent fewer errors and performed 39 percent faster in laparoscopic tasks than the worst video game players."
Visual intelligence has been rising globally for 50 years, Greenfield said. In 1942, people's visual performance, as measured by a visual intelligence test known as Raven's Progressive Matrices, went steadily down with age and declined substantially from age 25 to 65. By 1992, there was a much less significant age-related disparity in visual intelligence, Greenfield said.
"In a 1992 study, visual IQ stayed almost flat from age 25 to 65," she said.
Greenfield believes much of this change is related to our increased use of technology, as well as other factors, including increased levels of formal education, improved nutrition, smaller families and increased societal complexity.
You have read this article with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2009/01/january-10.html. Thanks!

January #7

Daily School Recess Improves Classroom Behavior
School children who receive more recess behave better and are likely to learn more, according to a large study of third-graders conducted by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.
The study, published in Pediatrics, suggests that a daily break of 15 minutes or more in the school day may play a role in improving learning, social development, and health in elementary school children. The study’s principal investigator is Romina M. Barros, M.D., assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Einstein.
Dr. Barros looked at data on approximately 11,000 third-graders enrolled in the national Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. The children, ages 8 to 9, were divided into two categories: those with no or minimal recess (less than 15 minutes a day) and those with more than 15 minutes a day. There were an equal number of boys and girls. The children’s classroom behavior was assessed by their teachers using a questionnaire.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, free, unstructured play is essential for keeping children healthy, and for helping them reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones. Unstructured play also helps kids manage stress and become resilient.
However, some studies indicate that children are getting less and less unstructured playtime, a trend exacerbated by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. “Many schools responded to No Child Left Behind by reducing the time for recess, the creative arts, and physical education in an effort to focus on reading and mathematics,” says Dr. Barros.
A 2005 survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that the 83 percent to 88 percent of children in public elementary schools have recess of some sort. But the number of recess sessions per day and the duration of the recess periods have been steadily declining. Since the 1970s, children have lost about 12 hours per week in free time, including a 25 percent decrease in play and a 50 percent decrease in unstructured outdoor activities, according to another study.
The present study shows that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are especially affected by this trend. “This is a serious concern,” says Dr. Barros. “We know that many disadvantaged children are not free to roam their neighborhoods, even their own yards, unless they are with an adult. Recess may be the only opportunity for these kids to practice their social skills with other children.”_“When we restructure our education system, we have to think about the important role of recess in childhood development," adds Dr. Barros. "Even if schools don't have the space, they could give students 15 minutes of indoor activity. All that they need is some unstructured time."
Dr. Barros’ coauthors include Ellen J. Silver, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics, and Ruth E.K. Stein, M.D., professor of pediatrics.
The paper, “School Recess and Group Classroom Behavior,” was published in the February 1 issue of Pediatrics. http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/123/2/431

New tactics to tackle bystander's role in bullying

A new psychodynamic approach to bullying in schools has been successfully trialled by UCL (University College London) and US researchers. CAPSLE (Creating a Peaceful School Learning Environment) is a groundbreaking method focused more on the bystander, including the teacher, than on the bully or the victim. The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, shows that an easily implemented school-wide intervention focussing on empathy and power dynamics can reduce children's experiences of aggression in school and improve classroom behaviour.
Professor Peter Fonagy, UCL Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, and lead author of the paper, says: "Bullying has an extensive impact on children's mental health including disruptive and aggressive behaviour, school dropout, substance abuse, depressed mood, anxiety, and social withdrawal. It also undermines educational achievement and disrupts children's abilities to develop social relationships.
"While school anti-bullying programmes are widely used, there have been few controlled trials of their effectiveness. CAPSLE is a psychodynamic approach that addresses the co-created relationship between bully, victim, and bystanders, assuming that all members of the school community, including teachers, play a role in bullying. It aims to improve the capacity of all community members to mentalize, that is, to interpret one's own and others' behaviour in terms of mental states (beliefs, wishes, feelings), assuming that greater awareness of other people's feelings will counteract the temptation to bully others. It also teaches people to manage power struggles and issues, both of which are known to damage mentalizing."
The randomized study, working with 1,345 third to fifth graders (8-11 year olds) in nine US elementary schools, assessed the efficacy of a three-year programme. In total, about 4,000 children were exposed to the study protocol. CAPSLE schools were compared with schools receiving no intervention and those using only School Psychiatric Consultation (SPC) where children with the most significant behavioural problems were assessed and referred for counselling.
Rather than simply targeting aggressive children, the CAPSLE programme worked to develop mentalizing skills in students and staff across the wider school community, beginning with bystanders perceiving and accepting their own (unthinking) role in maintaining the bully-victim relationship through abdicating responsibility and making an implicit decision not to think about what the bully/victim is experiencing. The emphasis was on the need to understand rather than react to others and thus avoid the problems created by a regression into the victim, victimizer and bully. Poster campaigns, stickers and badges were used to create a climate where feelings were labelled and distress was acknowledged as legitimate, with the ultimate aim of changing the way the entire school social system viewed bullying.
In the first year of the study, teachers received a day of group training and students received nine sessions of self-defence. This training in martial arts with role-playing was designed to help children understand how they responded to victimization and how that victimization affected their capacity to think clearly and creatively. During the study, teachers were discouraged from making disciplinary referrals (such as sending someone to the principal's office) unless absolutely necessary, and classes were asked to take 15 minutes at the end of the school day to reflect on the day's activities. All classes would reflect on bully-victim-bystander relationships according to a structured format depicted in posters placed in all classrooms. Children would assess the extent to which they had succeeded in being reflective and compassionate. They would then make a classroom decision on whether or not a class banner should be posted outside the room to say that the classroom had had a good mentalizing day. The study found that children were much tougher on themselves than teachers would have been under similar circumstances
Over the course of the study, reports of aggression, victimization, bystanding behaviour and mentalizing were gathered twice yearly from classroom questionnaires completed by the children. Behavioural observations on a randomly chosen subgroup of children were made at regular intervals by observers who looked for 'off-task' and disruptive behaviour. The programme was found to generate more positive bystanding behaviours, greater empathy for victims, and less favourable attitudes towards aggression in CAPSLE schools. In these schools, fewer children were nominated by their peers as aggressive, victimized, or engaging in aggressive bystanding compared with the control schools. This was confirmed by behavioural observation of less disruptive and off-task classroom behaviour in CAPSLE schools.
CAPSLE made no attempt to focus on helping disturbed children individually or picking them out for treatment. It did not set explicit rules against bullying, nor did it advocate any special treatment for bullying children. Nevertheless, over time the study found that bullies came to be disempowered, initially complaining that the programme was boring and should be stopped until gradually the social system tended to recruit them into more helpful roles. For example, a fifth grade bully who was "humping" the school trophy case to display his sexual prowess to much younger children became a helper of kindergarteners who were upset and helped them with tasks like tying shoelaces.
Over the course of the study, bullying increased across all the schools being monitored (no intervention, SPC and CAPSLE schools), but the percentages of children victimized were substantially larger in the first two types of schools from start to end. At the start of the study, 13 per cent of CAPSLE children were victimised compared to 19 per cent at the end. The increase among SPC children was from 15 to 25 per cent and from 14 to 26 per cent in the schools receiving no interventions. This school district had numerous socioeconomic problems over the course of the study, making the CAPSLE effects on bullying more remarkable.

New Measures of English Language Proficiency and Their Relationship to Performance on Large-Scale Content Assessments - New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont

Using assessment results for 5th and 8th grade English language learner students in three states, the report finds that the English language domains of reading and writing (as measured by a proficiency assessment) are significant predictors of performance on reading, writing, and mathematics assessments and that the domains of reading and writing (literacy skills) are more closely associated with performance than are the English language domains of speaking and listening (oral skills).

In response to a request from New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont to explore how English language proficiency measures may be related to performance outcomes on content assessments, this report uses the results of two new large-scale assessments—the Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners (ACCESS for ELLs) English proficiency assessment and the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP)—to address the following research question:

How does performance in four language domains on an English language proficiency assessment predict English language learner students’ performance on a state content assessment after accounting for student and school characteristics?

After controlling for student and school characteristics, English language proficiency scores (as measured by ACCESS) were significant predictors of content assessment outcomes (as measured by the NECAP).

The models also showed that after accounting for other covariates, ACCESS measures of English literacy were significantly stronger predictors of NECAP outcomes than were ACCESS measures of oral proficiency. Specifically, this report finds that: NECAP reading scores in both 5th and 8th grades were significantly and positively predicted by ACCESS reading, writing, and speaking scores after controlling for other ACCESS scores and student and school characteristics. Among the ACCESS domain scores the strongest predictor of NECAP reading outcomes was ACCESS reading scores, followed by ACCESS writing and speaking scores.

ACCESS reading and writing scores were significant predictors of NECAP reading, writing, and mathematics scores in 5th and 8th grades. ACCESS speaking and listening scores were significant predictors of NECAP scores for only four outcomes: 5th and 8th grade reading (speaking), 8th grade writing (speaking and listening), and 5th grade mathematics (listening).

In sum, ACCESS measures of English literacy skills (reading and writing scores) were significant predictors of NECAP reading and writing outcomes in 5th and 8th grades. Notably, ACCESS reading and writing scores were also positive and significant predictors of NECAP mathematics scores. In addition, except for 8th grade writing, ACCESS reading and writing scores were significantly stronger predictors of NECAP outcomes than were ACCESS listening and speaking scores.

Complete report

Online Learning Takes Off in K-12 Schools: More Students Taking Classes Online, With Further Growth Expected
The Sloan Consortium reports significant growth in online learning among the nation's elementary and secondary school students. It is estimated that more than 1 million students are now taking classes online - a 47 percent increase from the Sloan Consortium's original K-12 study done two years earlier. "K-12 Online Learning: A 2008 Follow-up of the Survey of U.S. School District Administrators" finds the vast majority of American school districts are providing some form of online learning and even more plan to do so within the next three years. The complete survey is available at http://www.sloanconsortium.org .
"Survey results indicate that online learning is meeting a wide range of student needs from remedial to accelerated instruction," said Anthony G. Picciano, professor, School of Education, Hunter College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York. "In particular, it provides the ability to offer coursework that is otherwise unavailable at a child's school, which we find to be especially significant in rural districts."
Four out of five school districts use more than one provider of online classes, including postsecondary institutions, virtual schools within a district's home state, independent vendors, and education service agencies. Among the barriers and issues perceived as most significant for school districts are concerns about course quality and costs related to course development. These concerns are similar to those seen in the original study.
"We are seeing online learning grow in relevance and acceptance throughout education," said Frank Mayadas, program director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and president, Sloan Consortium. "Two out of three school districts expected further growth in their enrollments for online course while 61 percent expect growth in their enrollments for blended courses."

Shoulder injuries in US high school athletes occur more often in boys
finds shoulder injuries are three times more likely to occur during competition
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Although shoulder injuries accounted for just 8 percent of all injuries sustained by high school athletes, shoulder injuries were relatively common in predominately male sports such as baseball (18 percent of all injuries), wrestling (18 percent) and football (12 percent). Moreover, boys experienced higher shoulder injury rates than girls, particularly in soccer and baseball/softball.
Player-to-player contact was associated with nearly 60 percent of high school athletes' shoulder injuries from 2005 through 2007, according to a study published in the online issue of the Journal of Athletic Training and conducted by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital. This is the first study to examine shoulder injuries across sports in a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school athletes.
"Shoulder injuries were far more likely to occur in football and wrestling than in any other sport," explained the study's author Ellen Yard, MPH, research associate in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Shoulder injuries were also three times more likely to occur in competition compared to practice."
The most common shoulder injuries included sprains and strains (37 percent), dislocations and separations (24 percent), contusions (12 percent) and fractures (7 percent). Surgery was required for 6 percent of shoulder injuries. Dislocations and separations accounted for more than half of all shoulder surgeries.
"Wrestling shoulder injuries were most likely to require surgery, with almost 1 in 10 requiring such procedures," said study co-author Dawn Comstock, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's and a faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. "Even more importantly, in all sports, almost 1 in 4 athletes missed at least three weeks of their season following a shoulder injury. This underscores the importance of preventing shoulder injuries before they occur."
Sports studied included football, boys' and girls' soccer, volleyball, boys' and girls' basketball, wrestling, and baseball and softball. Data for the study were collected from the 2005-2007 National High School Sports Injury Surveillance Study (High School RIO™) and were funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You have read this article with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2009/01/january-7.html. Thanks!

January #8

A new vision for public education in Texas

The Public Education Visioning Institute was born from the work and ideas of thirty-five public school superintendents who came together as a community of learners to create a new vision for public education in Texas. Here is a summary of their conclusions:

Why a New Direction and Why Now

Every parent has a dream that their children will be happy and successful. Our communities and the schools that serve them should equally share in that dream and have a plan for making that dream a reality. Preparing students for success in the workforce is secondary to preparing children for success in life. The core business of schools is to provide engaging, appropriate experiences for students so that they learn and are able to apply their knowledge in ways that will enrich their lives and ensure their well-being. Unfortunately, the present bureaucratic structure has taken away that focus and replaced it with a system based on compliance, coercion, and fear. If proper focus is to be restored, the system must be transformed into one based on trust, shared values, creativity, innovation, and respect.

Engaging the Digital Generation

In today’s digital world, most students come to school computer and technology savvy. With their iPods, iPhones, computer games, MySpace pages, and text messaging, they routinely use multimedia and internet resources in their daily lives. Technology development has also resulted in widespread change in the way students learn. To keep students fully engaged, schools must adapt to this new and rapidly changing environment. They must embrace the potential of new technologies and make optimum use of the digital devices and connections that are prevalent today to make learning vibrant and stimulating for all.

New Learning Standards for a New Era

A transformed system that meets the diverse needs of students in a digital environment demands new learning standards. Standards should reflect the realities of the age and recognize that students are not just consumers of knowledge, they can be creators of knowledge as well. Standards should focus on development of the whole person, tapping curiosity and imagination, and providing opportunities for all talents to be cultivated, nurtured, and valued.

From Misuse of Standardized Tests to Unleashing the Power of Assessment

Assessment should inform accountability, but the present practice of one-shot, high-stakes assessment has failed the test. Appropriate and varied assessment using multiple tools for different purposes informs students, parents, the school, the district and the community about the extent to which desired learning is occurring and what schools are doing to improve. For assessment to be of any value, it must move from the present “autopsy” model to one that more resembles a “daily check up,” which continuously identifies student strengths, interests, motivations, accomplishments, and other information necessary so that teachers can design the learning experiences that will best meet each student’s needs.

Accountability that Inspires

Accountability systems of themselves do not produce excellence. Excellence can only come from commitment and meaning. The present accountability system has created schools in which the curriculum is narrowed and only academic abilities are valued. Students become expert test takers but cannot retain or apply what they “know” in a context other than the test environment; and creativity, problem solving, and teamwork are stifled. The punitive approach and “referee” model embraced by that system have hindered the success of students and schools. A more appropriate coaching model is needed to transform the system into one that inspires and stimulates.

Transforming our Schools from Bureaucracies to Learning Organizations

Bureaucracies value power and authority, while learning organizations are driven by beliefs and values. Schools must be transformed from their current bureaucratic form, characterized by rules and sanctions, punitive accountability systems, routines, and standardization of everything, to learning organizations where only the mundane is standardized and standards are used to nurture aspirations and accommodate human variables. Learning organizations maintain a clear sense of doing the right thing and doing it well, shared commitments and beliefs, common purpose and vision, trust, accountability, and use of standards to inspire. Bureaucracies discourage and are disruptive to innovation and cannot create the dynamic conditions that foster superior performance of teachers and students. Learning organizations capture the learning of adults, share it, and support its application so that capacities to improve student learning are extraordinary.

Saying No to Remote Control

The shift in power in setting education policy from the local community to the state and federal government has resulted in a system where schools feel more accountable to the Legislature than to their students and their communities. The school district’s role has been relegated to one of compliance, and the local community has been denied the opportunity to make the more important decisions and choices regarding the education of the children and youth who live there. A more balanced and reinvigorated state-local partnership is needed to create the type of schools that can best provide the learning experiences to help students succeed in today’s world.

Complete report:

New Study, Online Tool Address Critical Knowledge Gap in Out-of-School Time: the Cost of Quality Programs; Study, Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation From The Finance Project and Public/Private Ventures, Offers New Knowledge, Tools for Policymakers to Use in Planning for Quality Out-of-School Time Programs
NEW YORK, Jan. 27 (AScribe Newswire) -- To assist policymakers, providers and funders, The Wallace Foundation releases today one of the most comprehensive studies to date analyzing the costs, funding streams, and expenditures of a wide range of high-quality out-of-school time (OST) programs, accompanied by a companion online calculator that generates cost estimates for specific programs.
"We commissioned this research to fill a critical knowledge gap - accurate data about the full cost of providing high-quality out-of-school time programs," said M. Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation. "This study provides the field, for the first time, with comparable cost data on a wide variety of high-quality program types. Especially at a time of great fiscal challenges, we hope it will allow state and city policymakers, funders, providers and their partners to make more informed decisions about how to sustain and support the kinds of high-quality programs that we know produce the greatest benefit for children."
Wallace funded the study, The Cost of Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs, as part of an initiative that aims to help develop citywide approaches to provide more children access to high-quality out-of-school time programs. The study and online cost calculator, along with many other research reports, is available without charge at http://www.wallacefoundation.org .
The Cost of Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs, one of the largest and most rigorous studies on the subject, analyzed data from 111 high-quality OST programs in six cities (Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, New York and Seattle). All of the programs in the study had key characteristics associated with quality OST services, including high attendance rates and high staff/youth ratios. The study presents detailed quantitative analysis of:
- program costs by program characteristics, including the ages served (elementary school, middle school, teen-agers), program content (academic, enrichment, or multi-focused), location (school-based and community-based), operator (school or community-based organization), and schedule of operation (school year or full year);
- program expenditures, including salaries and benefits; material, administrative and transportation costs; and space costs and utilities; and
- program funding portfolios of diversified funding streams, including public funds, in-kind contributions, foundation grants, corporate and individual donations, and parent fees.
"Our most interesting finding is that there isn't one 'right cost' for quality OST programs," said Jean Grossman, senior vice president for research at Public/Private Ventures. "Costs vary depending on the type of program provided and who it serves. So this study provides a benchmark for policymakers - to help them understand the cost implications of the OST decisions they make, and to determine the different levels of funding that are appropriate to support the different types of quality OST programs they need."
The Out-of-School Time Cost Calculator is designed to provide decision makers with an online, user-friendly tool to better understand the costs involved in funding an OST effort, and how similar communities have addressed those challenges. Modeled on calculators used in other fields, users input their unique characteristics of the OST program they desire information on, such as age groups served, location of program, times of operation, and program focus, and the calculator generates cost estimates to guide their financial planning and operation. The Cost Calculator, available at http://www.wallacefoundation.org/cost-of-quality , also provides brief descriptions of other OST programs with their funding strategies, examples of OST program and systems financing strategies, and an examination of quality factors related to program costs. Because all of the formulas in the calculator are derived from real data from quality OST programs, not all possible program configurations are covered.
The Wallace Foundation has invested in the out-of-school time field with two beliefs in mind: that children and youth gain learning and developmental benefits by frequent participation in high-quality programs, and that the best route to providing such high-quality services to more children is to adopt a citywide, coordinated approach that is sustainable. Since 2004, it has been working with Boston, Chicago, New York, Providence, and Washington, DC, providing more than $40 million in grants to develop and implement sustainable, systemic, coordinated approaches to increase access to high-quality OST programs. Their strategies have included: allocating funding to areas based on need; establishing management information systems to track participation; creating quality standards; and building online program locators so parents and youth can find programs in their neighborhoods.
Studies show that 80 percent of children's waking hours are spent outside of school, and 6.5 million school-age children participate in OST programs that are intended to protect their safety, help develop and nurture their talents, improve their academic performance and provide opportunities for them to form bonds with adults and older youth who are positive role models.
Investment in OST programs has increased in recent years, including $1 billion from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers each year and nearly $137 million from corporations in 2006. A November 2008 survey conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Afterschool Alliance revealed that 76 percent agree that afterschool programs are "an absolute necessity" for their community, and the same percentage wants the new Congress and their newly elected state and local officials to increase funding for afterschool programs (http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/advocate.cfm?story_id=4001026).

Program Raises Test Scores, Narrows Achievement Gap Among Middle School Students

When Dennis Orthner, Ph.D., professor in the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, helped launch CareerStart four years ago, he had one primary goal in mind: to keep more students in school. Orthner saw the intervention program, which helps students connect what they are learning in school to future career opportunities, as a way to reach those most at-risk of failing.
What he didn’t expect was that this same program would amount to a possible solution to raising academic performance and closing the achievement gap among students statewide. But according to a recent study of student progress in one North Carolina school system, CareerStart may hold that potential.
The success is being touted in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, where Orthner, Patrick Akos, an associate professor in UNC’s School of Education, and Donald Martin, county school superintendent, launched CareerStart in 2004. According to a recent analysis, eighth-graders in the school system’s middle schools were more likely than other students to achieve “mastery” or proficiency on state end-of-grade (EOG) math and reading tests if they were taught by seventh and eighth-grade teachers who regularly used career examples to illustrate their classroom lessons.
Furthermore, results show that minority and low-income students who hear these career examples from their teachers were more likely to achieve state test scores similar to white students, helping to narrow the achievement gap that has long separated minority and disadvantaged children and their white peers.
“We know that students learn better if they know how they will use the information,” said Orthner, the associate director for policy development and analysis at the Jordan Institute for Families at the School of Social Work. “For many low-income kids, this is particularly true, especially if they don’t yet have a sense of their future.”
These latest results follow an earlier CareerStart analysis, which found that students regularly exposed to lessons with career examples had fewer unexcused absences and school suspensions and were more likely to “find school exciting, look forward to learning new things and see school as being important in their lives.”
CareerStart now serves 15,000 students in six school systems across the state, though Orthner hopes the program will expand to others. CareerStart focuses on the core courses of math, language arts, science and social studies in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The program is tailored to students in the middle grades, an educational turning point for many children who often begin to show a disinterest in school. According to UNC research, students who lose interest in their education in these middle grades are less likely to succeed in high school.
As the name implies, CareerStart aims to get students thinking earlier about their possible futures. Though many teachers already rely on career examples to make learning real, CareerStart also offers mini lessons online to support a school’s curriculum. For example, math and language arts lessons enable teachers to demonstrate why caterers need to know fractions when baking decadent desserts or why a marketing and advertising agent needs to understand proper grammar and the power of persuasive language.
“We want all students to feel like school has value,” Orthner said.
All of the program findings are based on a study of 3,500 middle school students whose academic performances were tracked from fifth- through eighth-grades.
Overall, 72 percent of eighth-graders who had seven to eight classes in the past two years in which teachers used career examples achieved mastery in math compared to 58 percent of students who took classes in which no job opportunities were connected to their regular lessons. In reading, 52 percent of students who were given career examples in seven to eight classes were considered proficient compared to 47 percent of those whose teachers used no job illustrations.
Reading scores likely didn’t improve as much as math scores, Orthner said, because most studies show that student performance in reading is established in earlier grades, and changing these competencies is more difficult as children age.
More promising, he said, were findings in math for low-income students, especially among Hispanic and black students. According to the study, 62 percent of Hispanic and 51 percent of black students who were exposed to career examples in seven to eight classes achieved mastery in math compared to 30 percent of Hispanics and 33 percent of blacks in classes that used no job illustrations.
Overall, according to the UNC study, minority students in core classes where teachers did not provide career examples scored about 30 percentage points lower on EOG tests than white students. But that gap nearly closed when most of their teachers provided career examples in their classrooms. White students, meanwhile, scored at about the same level, regardless of whether their teachers illustrated instruction with career examples.
“Although this program is universal and does not single out particular students, some seem to need to hear the career relevance message more than others,” Orthner said. “It appears to have the biggest impact on lower-income kids, and particularly kids of color, all of which gets to the achievement gap issue.”
The program has also shown positive effects on school attendance rates and student behavior. For example, when most teachers offered career examples with their lessons, the average number of annual unexcused absences among low-income students dropped by nearly half. Similar results were achieved among some minority students. The number of absences among Hispanic children declined, on average, from six per year per student, down to three, while annual absences among black children fell, on average, from nearly three per student down to one.
Suspension rates also declined by half, down from an average of one per student per year, Orthner said.
“What this tells us is if you can improve a student’s sense that school is really important, their attention improves and the number of behavior incidents decreases,” he added.


…An en banc rehearing is warranted because the panel’s holding that the State of Florida can compel students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in violation of their personal beliefs directly contravenes precedent that has been firmly entrenched for over 65 years, since West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette held that the State does not have the power to compel minor students to recite the Pledge to the flag. 319 U.S. 624 (1943)….

The panel opinion finds facially constitutional a Florida statute that compels all students, including this 17-year-old plaintiff, to recite the Pledge unless they obtain written parental consent to exercise their First Amendment rights.1 The panel opinion ignores Barnette and fails to apply the strict scrutiny required when this most fundamental of rights is being violated by the State. Such a “permission” requirement is patently unconstitutional and this opinion puts us at odds not only with direct Supreme Court precedent, but with the decisions of other circuits addressing similar statutes….

See Circle Schools v. Pappert, 381 F.3d 172 (3d Cir. 2004) (applying strict scrutiny to and holding unconstitutional a requirement that a parent must be notified if a child chooses not to say the pledge); Sherman v. Cmty. Consol. Sch. Dist. 21, 980 F.2d 437 (7th Cir. 1992) (holding that a school may have its classes recite the Pledge so long as it does not compel pupils to espouse its content); Goetz v. Ansell, 477 F.2d 636, 637–38 (2d Cir. 1973) (holding that a student has the right to remain quietly seated during the Pledge). See also Elk Grove v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1, 8 (2004) (“Consistent with our case law, the school district permits students who object on religious grounds to abstain from the recitation.”) (citing to Barnette, 319 U.S. at 624).

.Students possess basic rights of belief and expression under the First Amendment independent of their parents, and the panel has, without any supportable legal reason, wrongfully deprived students of those rights. ..

I. Supreme Court Precedent Dictates that Students Cannot Be Compelled to Recite the Pledge of Allegiance

In Barnette, the West Virginia Board of Education passed a resolution requiring students to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance at school. The Supreme Court recognized that this compulsion infringed on the students’ rights of conscience, and thus, found the law unconstitutional. There is no distinction between the rights of students in West Virginia schools and the rights of students in Florida schools.

The Barnette Court acknowledged the obvious fact that “[the] Pledge requires affirmation of a belief and an attitude of mind.” Id. at 633. The Court then recognized that to permit the State to compel the Pledge would require a complete abdication of the First Amendment. To sustain the State’s position, the Court would be “required to say that a Bill of Rights which guards the individual’s right to speak his own mind, left it open to public authorities to compel him to utter what is not in his mind.” Id. at 634. This position would be untenable and the Court emphatically rejected it…

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control. Id. at 642. The Florida statute at issue would compel the very same students in Barnette to first obtain permission to do that which the Supreme Court has already explicitly ruled they have a constitutional right to do.

The panel opinion’s effort to distinguish Barnette and its progeny5 on the basis that “in those cases, the custodial parent was not opposing the child’s choice” whereas there is a potential conflict between parent and child6 here is unavailing on many levels. First, as noted, there is no conflict in this case as the suit against the State was brought by the student’s mother on his behalf. The panel opinion makes no mention of this fact nor addresses its significance.

…This statute is not prohibiting speech; it is compelling speech against one’s conscience. Whether one calls it “the right not to speak” or “liberty of conscience,” the freedom to think and hold beliefs that do not comport with state orthodoxy is a basic part of this nation’s foundation; yet this core tenet of our Founding Fathers is rendered hollow if the State can force individuals to espouse that with which they disagree. See, e.g., Everson v. Bd. of Educ., 330 U.S. 1, 15–16 (1947) (“The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a State nor the Federal Government can . . . [force nor influence a person] to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.”); Riley v. Nat’l Fed’n of the Blind, 487 U.S. 781, 791 (1988) (“‘The very purpose of the First Amendment is to foreclose public authority from assuming a guardianship of the public mind through regulating the press, speech, and religion.’ To this end, the government, even with the purest of motives, may not substitute its judgment as to how best to speak for that of speakers and listeners.”) (internal citations omitted) (emphasis added)…

Complete decision http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200614462ord.pdf
You have read this article with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2009/01/january-8.html. Thanks!

Jan 3

Commission Recommends Redesign of Teaching Profession

Alabama must enact reforms that give teachers greater opportunities to advance their careers while they remain in the classroom if the state is to continue recruiting and retaining highly effective teachers, a commission put together by Governor Bob Riley recommends.

The Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching presented its second report - Innovations in Teaching: Creating Professional Pathways for Alabama Teachers - to Governor Riley today outlining seven recommended reforms. The Governor created the commission to develop reforms aimed at increasing student achievement through improved teacher effectiveness.

Two recommendations made by the commission in an earlier report to the Governor were enacted in 2007. That year the State Board of Education adopted the Alabama Quality Teaching Standards developed and recommended by the commission and the state created the Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program, which pairs a veteran teacher with each of the state’s beginning teachers during their first year in the profession.

Commission members, many of them current or former teachers, say the existing structure of the teaching profession provides few options for teachers to advance in their careers without moving out of the classroom and into school administration.

“We are losing too many great classroom teachers to administration because becoming a principal or curriculum specialist is the only way to ‘move up’ in our profession,” Suzanne Culbreth, a teacher at Spain Park High School in Hoover, wrote in the report.

Governor Riley said the recommendations are visionary and will result in a “redesign” of the teaching profession that will benefit both teachers and students.

“Alabama is breaking new ground with this approach,” said Governor Riley. “With the recommendations in this report, we will afford excellent teachers with professional pathways that advance their careers without making them leave the classroom. We elevate a profession that is already so important to the future of Alabama.”

Dr. Betsy Rogers, a former National Teacher of the Year, chairs the Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching.

“Professional Pathways will be a unique Alabama recruiting tool for future teachers as they will be able to distinguish options throughout a teaching career,” Dr. Rogers wrote in the report.

Third-year teacher Taylor Ross of Brighton School in Jefferson County also praised the reforms. “I will no longer feel the need to leave the classroom for leadership opportunities or personal advancement, but can continue to daily impact students who need a strong, proven teacher.”

Recommendations by Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching

1. Professional Pathways for Alabama Teachers - The Commission recommends that two systems be selected as “demonstration sites” to begin implementation of the Professional Pathways system. The Commission would raise $75,000 from private sources for a planning grant to work on development with the two systems beginning in the summer of 2009.

2. Improve the Quality of Teacher Preparation - This set of recommendations seeks to structure meaningful partnerships between Colleges of Education and P-12 schools and districts in order to improve both the academic and clinical preparation of prospective teachers. This includes a strong focus on Alabama-specific initiatives, such as the Alabama Reading Initiative and the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI). They also aim to increase the accountability of teacher preparation institutions for the quality of their graduates.

3. Consolidate and Expand Teacher Recruitment Efforts - These recommendations include a centralized and user-friendly teacher recruitment website, student-produced ads to highlight the opportunities provided by the teaching profession, and a pilot seminar course in teaching for high school students.

4. Improving and Expanding Alternative Certification - These recommendations seek to create new routes that encourage the best and the brightest to enter the teaching profession. They include (a) a partnership with Teach for America to bring talented young people from across the country to teach in high-needs areas in Alabama, (b) improving the quality of our current Alternative Baccalaureate Certification, and (c) creation of an adjunct certification to allow individuals with recognized expertise and experience in high needs disciplines to work part time in public schools.

5. Maintain and expand the Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program - The Commission recommends the continued funding of Alabama’s highly-successful mentoring program for first-year teachers and the addition of a low-cost program for second-year teachers that uses small groups to continue their training and enhance small learning communities in schools..

6. Adopt a new definition for professional development - The Commission recommends that the State Board of Education adopt the National Staff Development Council’s definition of professional development to clarify, enhance, and support the existing Professional Development Standards.

7. Continue the biennial administration of the Take 20 Teaching and Learning Conditions Survey - The Commission feels it is critical that we institutionalize the biennial administration of our teaching and learning conditions survey to all educators so that leaders can continually assess the state of their schools and plan for constant improvement. The Take 20 survey was recommended by the Commission in 2007 and first administered to all Alabama educators in 2008.

Support from National Organizations

Dr. Tom Carroll, Executive Director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future: “By creating new roles and career pathways for Master Teachers and Learning Designers, to augment the work of professional teachers, Alabama will be well positioned to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience it has developed in its teaching workforce.”

Stephanie Hirsch, Executive Director of the National Staff Development Council: “Professional Pathways for Alabama Teachers has the potential to transform the culture of both the profession to which teachers belong and the schools in which they work.”

Dr. Barnett Berry, President and CEO of the Center for Teaching Quality: “The innovative teaching reforms proposed in this report of the Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching can help Alabama prepare a new generation of educators ready to meet the vastly different teaching demands of the next decade and beyond.”

Full report:

NGA Report Recommends Actions to Improve America’s High Schools

Building on the national imperative first set forth at the 2005 National Education Summit on High Schools, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center), National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) have released a joint report measuring the progress states have made improving America's high schools and citing the challenges that remain in ensuring high school students are prepared for college and career success in the global economy.
The report represents the four organizations' shared vision for the changes needed in today's high schools and offers fresh ideas and new practices that show state leaders how to:
• Restore Value to the High School Diploma by elevating academic standards and high school graduation requirements to a college- and career-ready level;
• Redesign High Schools through alternative delivery mechanisms;
• Ensure Excellent Teachers and Principals by connecting teacher preparation, hiring and evaluation to student outcomes and other factors;
• Improve Accountability by aligning postsecondary expectations to high school expectations; and
• Enhance Education Governance by bridging K-12 and postsecondary expectation gaps through P-16 councils.
Additionally, the report highlights emerging trends, such as greater appreciation for international benchmarking and an increased focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education that have the capacity to improve student success in the global economy.
The report provides new recommendations around the five pillars for improving America’s high schools set forth in An Action Agenda for Improving America’s High Schools released in 2005.

Full Report:
You have read this article with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2009/01/jan-3.html. Thanks!

Jan 4

National Math Panel: Major Topics of School Algebra

The National Mathematics Advisory Panel conducted a systematic and rigorous review of the best available scientific evidence for the teaching and learning of mathematics and provided recommendations that lay out concrete steps to improve mathematics education, with a specific focus on preparation for learning algebra.

Questions like the following illustrate the scope of the Panel’s inquiry:
• What is the essential content of school algebra and what do children need to know
before starting to study it?
• What is known from research about how children learn mathematics?
• What is known about the effectiveness of instructional practices and materials?
• How can we best recruit, prepare, and retain effective teachers of mathematics?
• How can we make assessments of mathematical knowledge more accurate and more
• What do practicing teachers of algebra say about the preparation of students whom
they receive into their classrooms and about other relevant matters?
• What are the appropriate standards of evidence for the Panel to use in drawing
conclusions from the research base?

Each of five task groups carried out a detailed analysis of the available evidence in a
major area of the Panel’s responsibility: Conceptual Knowledge and Skills, Learning
Processes, Instructional Practices, Teachers and Teacher Education, and Assessment. Each of three subcommittees was charged with completion of a particular advisory function for the Panel: Standards of Evidence, Instructional Materials, and the Panel-commissioned National Survey of Algebra Teachers. Each task group and subcommittee produced a report, all of which are compiled here in this document.

Complete report:

School performance and body weight affects kids' self-esteem, study shows

It's well known that within the adult population body weight and self esteem are very much inter related. But until now, the same wasn't known about children's healthy body weight and its relationship with a positive self-image. Paul Veugelers has changed that.
The University of Alberta researcher recently surveyed nearly 5,000 Grade 5 students in Nova Scotia, asked questions about self-esteem, measured height and weight and linked the results with the standardized provincial exam results.
His findings show that, like adults, body weight affects a child's self-esteem, but contrary to many adults, low self-esteem doesn't lead to weight gain. The results also show that school performance affects self-esteem, but it didn't go the other way; if students had low self-esteem they still managed to perform well in class. Veugelers study also shows that healthy eating and physical activity has a positive effect on school performance.
His research appeared in the November edition of Obesity Reviews.

School-based physical activity: Has benefits even if it doesn't help lose weight

School-based health and exercise programs have positive outcomes despite having little effect on children's weight or the amount of exercise they do outside of school, say Cochrane Researchers who carried out a systematic review of studies on physical activity programs in schools.
The research shows that school-based programs increased the time children spent exercising and reduced the time spent watching television. Programs also reduced blood cholesterol levels and improved fitness – as measured by lung capacity. However, programs made little impact on weight, blood pressure or leisure time activities.
Physical inactivity is a key factor behind 1.9 million deaths every year and almost a quarter of all cases of coronary heart disease. People who are overweight as children are more likely to develop heart disease as adults. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, yet studies show most children do not do enough exercise to give any health benefit. The World Health Organisation has identified schools as important settings for promotion of physical activity among children.
The researchers reviewed data from 26 studies of physical activity promotion programs in schools in Australia, South America, Europe and North America. Most studies tried to encourage children to exercise by explaining the health benefits and changing the school curriculum to include more physical activity for children during school hours. Programs included teacher training, educational materials and providing access to fitness equipment.
"Given that there are at least some beneficial effects, we would recommend that schools continue their health promotion programs. These activities should also be supported by public health unit staff, and parents and teachers as positive role models," says lead researcher, Maureen Dobbins, who works at the School of Nursing at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
Dobbins believes that schools should make spaces in their timetables to create environments that encourage pupils to engage in physical activity each day as well as having an ethos that encourages increased duration of moderate to vigorous activity each week. "Schools have great opportunities to help pupils learn how to promote health and minimise the risk of acquiring a chronic disease. Providing a healthy structure to their day should enable them to develop healthier lifestyles that may track in adulthood," she says.
She also suggests an explanation for why some programs often don't improve physical health measures such as weight and blood pressure. "Physical activity classes may be too closely associated with school work, so for some students this makes them feel like they are being made to do more work. Perhaps the key is to promote physical activity by getting children and adolescents to 'play' in ways that promote better fitness levels, while at the same time represent fun and adventurous activities," says Dobbins.
You have read this article with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2009/01/jan-4.html. Thanks!

Jan #6

Student First Amendment Rights
A high school principal in Tennessee told students they couldn’t have “Rebel flags” or symbols of flags on their clothes. Three students, who felt that the policy unconstitutionally interfered with their ability to express their southern heritage, sued. In August, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a grant of summary judgment in favor of the school.
The court cited testimony that racial tensions — including racist and threatening graffiti and physical altercations between African-American and white students — comprised the context for the clothing ban. The court distinguished the case from Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Comm School, the landmark First Amendment case that struck down a school ban on armbands to protest the Vietnam War.
Today, the Sixth Circuit denied the students’ petition for rehearing en banc.
In dissent, Judge Danny Boggs wrote:
It should be emphasized that no disruption of any sort was directly associated with the display of symbols, in that the persons displaying the symbols are not alleged to have been involved in any physical incidents, nor to have instigated even any verbal ones. . . Consider also that one of the plaintiffs to this case, who was involved in a verbal confrontation with another student, testified that after he was called a “dumb redneck,” he did not respond because “it’s not worth my time beating somebody’s butt because they’re just acting stupid.” . . . Though a confrontation short of a violent altercation could amount to a disruption within the meaning of Tinker, not every disagreement or incident of name-calling will support the suppression of speech.

Judge rejects student's blog claim, allows T-shirt issue to proceed

A former Connecticut high school student who was punished for a blog entry lost her First Amendment claim in federal court over her online speech but won the ability to pursue another, less-publicized part of her case involving censorship of student T-shirts at her school.
Avery Doninger’s case has garnered national attention in part because it presents a fascinating student-speech issue that has not been resolved by the legal system — what legal standard should a court use to evaluate a student-speech claim that arises from online speech created off-campus. In Doninger’s case, on Jan. 15 U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz once again sided with school officials on the online issue, though he allowed the T-shirt claim to proceed to trial in his court….

Kravitz acknowledged “that there is evidence in the record — particularly when viewed in the light most favorable to [Doninger] — that suggests that Ms. Niehoff may have punished Ms. Doninger because the blog entry was offensive and uncivil and not because of any potential disruption at school.” Kravitiz suggested that the dispute over the true motivation for punishing Doninger created a fact question that ordinarily would prevent the granting of summary judgment.
However, the judge still ruled for school officials because of the doctrine of qualified immunity, which shields government officials from liability even for unconstitutional actions if they have not violated clearly established constitutional or statutory law….
T-shirt claim_Doninger did gain a partial victory when the district court rejected school officials’ claim regarding the censored “Team Avery” T-shirts.
School officials had argued that they were simply enforcing a “general ban on electioneering materials” rather than censoring a particular political viewpoint — the support of Avery Doninger. But Kravitz wrote: “It is undisputed that there was no written policy that would have prohibited the t-shirts and there is no evidence that Ms. Niehoff was confiscating any other electioneering materials at the doors to the school auditorium.”
The judge also noted that because school officials had barred Avery from running for office, it was wrong to characterize the T-shirts as electioneering materials in the first place. Kravitz further rejected the qualified-immunity defense on this claim, because it was clearly established that students had a right to engage in nondisruptive, nonoffensive political speech on school grounds.
Kravitz wrote: “At trial, Ms. Doninger will have to prove that her speech was chilled and also will have to prove the amount of damages, if any, that she suffered as a result of any First Amdendment violation that is found.”

Complete report:

Coach Charged With Criminal Negligence in Football Death

A Kentucky high school football coach was criminally charged in the death of Max Gilpin, a 15 year-old offensive lineman at Pleasure Ridge Park high school who died last summer after collapsing at practice. The charge is reckless homicide.
Not many facts have emerged. But it seems that the coach, David Jason Stinson, was directing practice on August 20, during 94 degree heat, when Gilpin collapsed and was brought to the hospital with a body temperature of 107 degrees. No autopsy was performed, reports the AP, but it appeared Gilpin died from complications from heat stroke, according to the coroner’s office. According to a report on MSNBC, coaches had refused to let players take water breaks.
More info:
You have read this article with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2009/01/jan-6.html. Thanks!

January #5

Research on Using Technology to Enhance the Writing Skills of Students With Special Needs -- The Journal of Special Education Technology (JSET)

The study "Using Software to Enhance the Writing Skills of Students with Special Needs" examines the impact of assistive technology on the writing skills of students with disabilities. This research compared students' writing outcomes using word prediction and talking word processor tools to their handwritten work samples.
Jennifer Cullen, Dayton Ohio Public Schools, Stephen B. Richards and Catherine Lawless-Frank; University of Dayton, performed the study to measure the impact of assistive technology writing tools on 5th graders' writing skills over a 7-week period at an urban elementary school. Don Johnston's Co:Writer® word prediction program and Write:OutLoud® talking word processor were chosen as the writing accommodations to support students during their daily district-mandated writing activities. The study demonstrated that the technology helped students improve their writing outcomes in four key measures: writing rubric scores, accuracy, spelling and number of words written.
Ben Johnston, Director at Don Johnston, said, "A high percent (65%) of students referred for learning disabilities have a writing disability. (Mayes, Calhoun, Crowell, 2000). Many of these students have physical, cognitive, or learning differences and can't reach their potential with conventional writing tools. This study demonstrates that students can thrive in the right environment provided they have the right tools. Over 20% of school districts use Co:Writer and Write:OutLoud as accommodations to support students who struggle in writing. We are pleased that more research is being done to match students to the right learning environment where they can excel."
In 2006, JSET published another study on the "Impact of Word Prediction Software on the Written Output of Students with Physical Disabilities", Volume 21, No. 3, prepared by Pat Mirenda and Kirsten Turoldo at the University of British Columbia and Constance McAvoy, Special Education Technology-British Columbia (SET-BC) Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This research examined the impact of Co:Writer on the written output of 24 students with physical disabilities. The study included surveys from students, teachers and adults after observing ten-minute writing samples in three modalities: handwriting, word processing, and word processing with Co:Writer. Two-thirds of students and over half of the adults believed that Co:Writer helped students spell better; use a wider variety of words; write faster; produce neater, easier-to-read work; and write more correct sentences. Another two-thirds believed that Co:Writer helped students write more with less fatigue and frustration and read what they had written. This research concluded that using word processing and Co:Writer together resulted in higher percentages of legible words, correctly spelled words, correct word sequences; and longer lengths of consecutive sentence sequences than by writing by hand alone.
Additional research and case studies about the benefits of assistive technology to support students with disabilities can be found at the Don Johnston website at www.donjohnton.com and at the Journal of Special Education Technology's website http://www.tamcec.org/jset/index.htm.
Resource Links:_Download this case study at: http://www.donjohnston.com/pdf/cowriter/cow_wol_research_study.pdf
Watch Co:Writer demo: http://www.donjohnston.com/media/flash/product_demo/cowriter/index.html.
Read a summary of this and other Co:Writer research and case studies: http://www.donjohnston.com/products/cowriter/research.html.

Potential Benefits for System-Wide Public School Consolidation
What are the potential benefits of a system-wide public school consolidation? This is the question asked by the Rockbridge County, Virginia Board of Supervisors to County Administrator Claire Collins resulting in the publication of the white paper, entitled "Joint Schools, School Facilities and Superintendents: An Alternative Approach to Address Community Public Education".
The white paper highlights historical and current trends for consolidating public education. In areas of the United States with declining student populations, local governments are increasingly turning to school consolidation as a cost-saving measure. Consolidation of schools in the City of Williamsburg and James City County in Virginia reflects national trends with state laws guiding the methods of consolidation. Here in Rockbridge County, the City of Lexington and county have long shared a high school. According to Collins, "the consolidated high school is a model for regional cooperation and benefits the community".
The paper also addresses lessons learned from consolidations with emphasis on the highly complex, sensitive and emotional nature of addressing consolidated schools. Acquiring professional consulting services is recommended as no two consolidations are the same. Hire a professional consulting firms eliminates emotional ties and helps in identifying areas for financial savings and process improvement according to Collins.
Special appreciation is extended to the school divisions in the Rockbridge region, James City County, Virginia, Management Analysis, Incorporated located in Vienna, Virginia and Virginia Association of Counties for assistance and information on school consolidation. The white paper may be viewed in its entirety at:

Infants Draw on Past to Interpret Present, Understand Other People's Behavior

University of Washington psychologists have learned that 10-month-old infants use their prior exposure and understanding of familiar actions by a person to unravel novel actions. However, this ability is limited by the location in which the new action is performed.
"Infants' understanding of and exposure to familiar actions can boost their understanding of ambiguous action sequences. Their ability to draw on the past to interpret the present represents an important advance in their developing understanding of other people's behavior," said Jessica Sommerville, a UW assistant professor of psychology who is also affiliated with the university's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.
Although the research was conducted on infants, she believes the findings apply across all ages.
“Providing advance information about the ultimate goal or objective of what you are trying to teach before delivering the actual content helps people learn. College instructors and school teachers are often instructed to highlight the goal of a lecture, course or lesson in advance to facilitate learning. Our work demonstrates that this phenomenon is present in infancy. Advance information about an individual’s goals helps infants understand and learn from another person’s actions within the first year of life.”
UW researchers conducted two experiments to test how well infants can use prior information.
In the first, 48 typically developing infants took part in a two-phase experiment. During the first phase, infants received information about which of two objects a research assistant desired. Across five trials, infants consistently saw the assistant reach for, grasp and pick up one of two plastic toys ( a green frog or a red fish) while saying “Wow!” For the second phase, the infants were randomly divided into same- and different-room conditions.
Half the babies stayed in the same room, but the setup was slightly different. This time the frog and fish each sat out of reach of the assistant on top of distinctly different colored cloths. Infants watched as the assistant used the cloth supporting the toy that she had previous desired to retrieve the target toy. Infants’ visual attention to these events was measured, and after infants’ attention declined they participated in novel test trials. The test trials varied. Some of them featured a change in the toy the assistant went after while others featured a change in the cloth that was used by the assistant. The procedure was the same for the different-room group, except these infant receive the second phase in another room.
Prior research suggests that 10-month-old infants do not spontaneously recognize the meaning behind the cloth-pulling sequence. They apparently don’t understand that a person pulls the cloth to retrieve the desired out-of-reach toy. The UW researchers wanted to know if the infants could use information from the first phase to identify the assistant’s intention in the second phase. They used infants’ visual attention to the novel test events to gauge infants’ understanding of the cloth-pulling sequence. Infants in the same-room condition showed heightened attention to a change in the toy that the assistant retrieved rather than a change in the cloth she used. This suggests that the infants understood that the assistant pulled the cloth in order to obtain her desired toy, and were surprised when her intention changed, according to Sommerville.
In contrast, infants in the different-room condition did not distinguish between the two test events.
The second experiment was virtually identical to the first, except half of the infants were taken out of the testing room for 30 seconds after the first phase, matching the time it took the different-room group to switch rooms in the first experiment. Then they returned to the same room. This time both groups of infants looked significantly longer at the change in the toy the assistant pulled with the cloth.
“Our findings suggest that infants use prior information about a person’s goals and desires to understand novel or ambiguous action. But they also suggest that infants may be limited in their ability to generalize this information to new contexts at 10 months of age,” said Sommerville. “Alternately, infants may be able to generalize information across a change in context, but they may be more reluctant to generalize expectations about others’ behavior than are older children or adults.”
She said the research also has practical applications that parents could use when they want to teach their children something
“Our work suggests that children’s learning may benefit if they are provided with information about the desired end result of a game or activity before starting it. For example, if a parent wants to show a child how to operate a jack-in-the-box it might be helpful to show the desired outcome (the jack popped out of the box), and then demonstrate the step that are necessary to achieve that result.”
The findings are published on-line in the journal Developmental Science.

School Infrastructure Funding Need: A State-by-State Assessment and an Analysis of Recent Court Cases
“School Infrastructure Funding Need: A State-by-State Assessment and an Analysis of Recent Court Cases,” is an external study that tracks the current level of school infrastructure funding in all 50 states. The report shows that total school infrastructure funding need is substantial, totaling some $254.6 billion. “School Infrastructure Funding Need” also makes policy recommendations to address the funding need at the federal and state level.
Full report:

“The Obama Effect”: Test-Taking Performance Gap Virtually Eliminated During Key Moments of Obama’s Presidential Run

New research by Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management professor Ray Friedman finds that the presidential run of Barack Obama has had a strong positive impact on the test-taking achievement of African Americans.
Documenting what Friedman and his co-authors call the “Obama Effect,” the study found the performance gap between black and white Americans in a series of online tests was dramatically reduced during key moments of the 2008 presidential campaign, when Obama’s accomplishments garnered the most national attention.
“Our results document compelling evidence of the power that real-world, in-group role models like Obama can have on members of their racial or ethnic community,” said Friedman.
In the study, tests were administered to a total of 472 participants using questions drawn from Graduate Record Exams (GREs) to assess reading comprehension, analogies and sentence completion. The tests took place at four distinct points over three months during the campaign: two when Obama’s success was less prominent (prior to his acceptance of the nomination and the mid-point between the convention and election day) and two when it garnered the most attention (immediately after his nomination speech and his win of the presidency in November).
The nationwide testing sample of 84 black Americans and 388 white Americans – a proportion equivalent to representation in the overall population – matched for age and education level. It revealed that white participants scored higher than their black peers at the two points in the campaign where Obama’s achievements were least visible. However, during the height of the Obama media frenzy, the performance gap between black and white Americans was effectively eliminated. In addition, researchers pinpointed that black Americans who did not watch Obama’s nomination acceptance speech continued to lag behind their white peers, while those who did view the speech successfully closed the gap.
As part of the study, Friedman – along with David M. Marx of San Diego State University and Sei Jin Ko of Northwestern University – also examined whether Obama’s success reduced negative racial stereotypes. For example, participants were asked whether they were concerned that poor performance on the exam would be attributed to their race. The results indicate that blacks were concerned that they faced negative stereotypes about academic achievement whether Obama was prominent or not, but when Obama was prominent they were able to overcome that concern and perform better on the test.
According to Friedman, other research has shown that such historical stereotypes are an underlying reason for lagging test-taking performance by black Americans.
“Obama as a role model did not have an immediate impact on black Americans’ concerns about such stereotypes,” said Friedman. “However, our findings give us reason to believe that the influence of extraordinarily successful role models like Obama will help to drive improved performance and, over the longer-term, to dispel negative stereotypes about African Americans, bringing us closer to a ‘post-racial’ world.”
You have read this article with the title January 2009. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2009/01/january-5.html. Thanks!