Female Topics Encourage Girls to Study Science


Girls are more interested in studying science if topics are presented in a female friendly way. This is one of the findings of Dr Sylvie Kerger the University of Luxembourg whose research is published online the British Journal of Educational Psychology by BPS Journals in partnership with Wiley-Blackwell.

There has been concern over the decreasing number of students studying scientific fields such as statistics, physics and information technology. These disciplines contribute strongly to national growth and well-being. As girls have less interest in these disciplines but perform just as well as boys this study attempted to find out if making it more relevant to girls would encourage more to study them. For the study 134 boys and 160 girls (14 years old) completed questionnaires relating to their interest in 80 topics. Before completing this they were told:

'Imagine that you will visit a new school next year, where you can select your subjects. Now we will present different subjects to you which you can select. Each subject has different topics. You can say how much you are interested in it.' For example to gauge interest in physics students were asked about the functioning of a laser. The feminine context was 'how is a laser used in cosmetic surgery' and the masculine context was 'how does a laser read a CD'. Students rated their interest from 1-5 and were not aware which scientific discipline the question related to. The results showed that girls had a significantly higher interest in IT, statistics and physics when concepts were presented in a female friendly way. Unfortunately this led to a significant decrease in boys' interest. Dr Kerger said "There was clear evidence that applying female friendly topics increased girls' interest in these scientific disciplines. However, boys showed a decreased level of interest when topics were presented in this way. Girls were more interested in social and real contexts such as decline of forests whereas boys clearly found mechanics and technology more compelling.

"One solution might be to establish gender-specific science classes. However, this solution might not work for every student. Imagine a girl whose interest does not match that of other girls and a boy who is more interested in female topics than in male topics. So the solution might not be the division of students into gender-specific groups, but something that takes into account the individual differences among students. "Perhaps teachers and or schools could offer science modules or groups dealing with the same concepts but presenting them in the context of different topics. Each student could then choose the science modules or groups using the topics that seem the most interesting to themselves."
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/female-topics-encourage-girls-to-study.html. Thanks!

Variables analyzed for high school achievement success


How Student and School Characteristics are Associated with Performance on the Maine High School Assessment uses data from the Maine Department of Education to examine how student characteristics, student prior achievement measures, and school characteristics are associated with performance on the Maine High School Assessment (MHSA). The MHSA is administered in the spring of grade 11 to determine whether Maine high schools have made adequate yearly progress. The variables are available data believed to be related to high school achievement.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/variables-analyzed-for-high-school.html. Thanks!

Dropout Prevention Programs Described


Dropout Prevention Programs in Nine Mid-Atlantic Region School Districts describes dropout prevention programs in nine school districts serving communities with populations of 24,742–107,250. Each district has high dropout rates, large minority student populations, and high percentages of children living below the poverty line.

Key findings on dropout prevention programs include:

• The most common core strategies were advocating for student needs (64 percent of programs), engaging and supporting families (57 percent), and monitoring school attendance (53 percent).

• The most common service goals were improving academic performance (95 percent of programs), decreasing truancy (66 percent), and providing support during transitions (60 percent).

• The most common student subgroups targeted were students with academic needs (90 percent of programs), students from low socioeconomic status families (60 percent), and special needs students with behavioral challenges (57 percent).

• Only 1 of the 58 programs in the sample—Talent Development High Schools—had been reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse as of May 1, 2010, and reported to have evidence of potentially positive effects based on one small study.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/dropout-prevention-programs-described.html. Thanks!

Tennessee Prekindergarten Students See 82 Percent Gain Over Non-Prekindergarten Peers


Children who attended state-funded prekindergarten classes gained an average of 82 percent more on early literacy and math skills than comparable children who did not attend, researchers from the Peabody Research Institute at Vanderbilt University have found.

The initial results are from the first rigorous longitudinal study that has been conducted on the effects of public prekindergarten attendance on a statewide scale.

"This research is difficult to do but critically important to evaluating the effects of Tennessee's investment in pre-k," study leaders Mark Lipsey and Dale Farran said. "Such evidence is especially important in the context of the current budgetary constraints in Tennessee and other states that have made commitments to pre-k education."

For the study, 23 schools in 14 Tennessee school districts randomly admitted children to their pre-k program. All of the schools received applications from more students than they could accommodate. The children admitted to pre-k were then compared to the children whose families applied but were not admitted. A total of 303 children were involved in this phase of the study.

Assessments at the beginning and end of the prekindergarten year found that the pre-k children had a 98 percent greater gain in literacy skills than children who did not attend a state pre-k program, a 145 percent greater gain in vocabulary and a 109 percent greater gain in comprehension. They also made strong, but more moderate, gains in early math skills (33 percent to 63 percent greater gains). Overall, the average gain across the board was 82 percent more than for the children who did not attend state pre-k.

Results from a second parallel study corroborated these findings. That study compared 682 children who attended 36 pre-k classes in rural and urban middle Tennessee schools to 676 children who had to enter a year later because of the birth date cutoff for pre-k eligibility.

The second study also found that children enrolled in state-funded pre-k classes scored significantly higher on emergent literacy and math assessments than the children who had not yet attended pre-k once the age difference was accounted for.

The strongest differences were again in the areas of literacy and language skills, with more modest gains in math skills.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/tennessee-prekindergarten-students-see.html. Thanks!

College-Going and Human Capital diagnostic reports


Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research Strategic Data Project partnered with the Fulton County Schools (FCS) to produce College-Going and Human Capital diagnostic reports, which are meant to demonstrate how districts can capitalize on existing data to understand its current performance, set future goals, and strategically plan responses. The College-Going diagnostic report illuminates students’ enrollment over time and compares these patterns across a variety of student characteristics and academic experiences. The Human Capital diagnostic report investigates teacher effectiveness with the intention of informing district leaders about patterns of teacher effectiveness and identifying areas for policy change that could leverage teacher effectiveness to improve student achievement.

Fulton County Schools College-Going Diagnostic Report

Fulton County Schools Human Capital Diagnostic Report
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/college-going-and-human-capital.html. Thanks!

Massachusetts urban charter schools boost achievement sharply, but results for nonurban charters are mixed


Researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, MIT and the University of Michigan have released the results of a new study that suggests that urban charter schools in Massachusetts have large positive effects on student achievement at both the middle and high school levels. Results for nonurban charter schools were less clear; some analyses indicated positive effects on student achievement at the high school level, while results for middle school students were much less encouraging.

The study is published in a report by the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard titled, Student Achievement in Massachusetts’ Charter Schools.

The study uses an innovative research design based on school lotteries. The lottery-based research design relies on apples-to-apples comparisons: among those who apply to a given set of charter schools, applicants who were randomly offered a charter seat are compared with otherwise similar students who were not offered a seat. The school lotteries, which are required under the state’s charter law when a school has more applicants than seats, provide a way to answer the common complaint that the charter school applicants are ‘different’ from their peers in the traditional public schools.

Large positive effects of charter schools on student achievement were found at both the middle and high school levels but varied by subject and community type. As a group, Massachusetts’ charter middle schools boost average math scores but have little effect on average English Language Arts (ELA) scores. Results for charter high schools show strong effects in both math and ELA. But a more detailed analysis shows that the impact of charter schools on student achievement varies markedly across communities: Urban charter schools show large, positive and statistically significant effects across subjects and grades. The subset of oversubscribed urban charter schools generates especially large MCAS score gains in middle and high school math. Other urban charter schools generate smaller though still positive effects.

By contrast, nonurban middle schools do not appear to boost scores and the students attending these schools may even be falling behind their counterparts in traditional public schools. The picture for nonurban charter high schools is more mixed, with lottery estimates showing no achievement gains except in a subgroup of applicants of low socio-economic status.

“This study replicates our earlier findings showing substantial gains for charter school lottery winners. Although our urban sample size has increased somewhat, the findings for urban schools are unchanged: students offered a seat at an urban charter school end up well ahead of those denied admission in a lottery. On the other hand, the small and even negative effects for non-urban charter schools is a new result that shows just how much heterogeneity there is in the charter world,” said Angrist.

The overall findings of this study are consistent with previous research using the same methods conducted in 2009 and 2010. In one study, the team compared student achievement in Boston’s charter, pilot and traditional schools. That research is published in a report by The Boston Foundation titled, Informing the Debate: Comparing Boston’s Charter, Pilot and Traditional Schools. Findings from that groundbreaking study found positive effects of charter schools on student achievement at both the middle and high school levels and across subjects. In fact, the impact on middle school math was particularly dramatic; the effect amounting to half of a standard deviation, an effect large enough to move a student from the 50th to 69th percentile in student performance in one year. Likewise, in a study published in May 2010, the team report large achievement gains for students who won seats at the KIPP School in Lynn, Massachusetts (also an urban area with a large minority population).

The new study is not designed to answer the question of why particular schools boost achievement only whether they succeed in doing that. However, a survey of administrators at participating charter schools revealed clear differences in approach between schools set in urban and non-urban communities. For example, urban charters spend considerably more time on traditional math and reading instruction and are more likely to subscribe to a “no excuses” philosophy (emphasizing traditional skills and comportment). Urban charters also typically run a longer school day than their nonurban counterparts. Finally, it’s worth noting that urban students start well behind most non-urban students. “Urban schools boost scores by bringing these students up to suburban achievement levels. Most non-urban students start out doing relatively well; charter attendance leaves their achievement essentially unchanged but at a relatively high baseline level,” said Angrist.

"The findings of this study are provocative. They suggest, as in previous studies, that students in Massachusetts' charter middle and high schools often perform better academically than their peers in traditional public schools. The task now is to learn more about what is working in charter schools -- such as more effective instruction, engaging academic curricula, longer school days, longer school year, or other practices -- so that similar elements can be implemented in traditional public schools," said Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education for Massachusetts.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/massachusetts-urban-charter-schools.html. Thanks!

Report Finds Connecting Kids to Breakfast is Vital for Academic Achievement



Two-thirds of teachers across the U.S. say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school too hungry to learn because they are not getting enough to eat at home, according to a national new survey released today. More than 60% of the teachers surveyed for Hunger in Our Schools: Share Our Strength's Teachers Report say that the problem has increased in the past year, and many find that breakfast programs are a key link to a students' ability to succeed academically.

The survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners, contains highlights of a public opinion survey of 638 kindergarten through eighth grade public school teachers in urban, suburban and rural communities nationwide. The study reveals that 65% of teachers report that most or a lot of their students rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition. This reliance is widespread geographically, but particularly strong in urban and rural areas.

More than 40% of teachers say they believe it is a serious problem that children are coming to school hungry because they have not had enough to eat at home. In fact, 61% of teachers who perceive this problem purchase food for their classrooms out of their own pockets, spending an average of $25 a month.

"I've had lots of students come to school - not just one or two - who put their heads down and cry because they haven't eaten since lunch yesterday," said Stacey Frakes, an elementary teacher at Greenville Elementary School in Madison County FL.

However, teachers are nearly unanimously (98%) in agreement that there is a strong connection between eating a healthy breakfast and a student's ability to concentrate, behave well and perform academically.

Related video:

You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/report-finds-connecting-kids-to.html. Thanks!

The Nation’s Report Card: Science 2009 Trial Urban District Assessment


Complete report

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has just released the 2009 Science results for 17 urban districts and for large cities nationally in The Nation’s Report Card: Science 2009 TUDA. The 2009 NAEP Science TUDA assessed representative samples of between 900 and 2,200 fourth- and eighth-grade public school students in each of the 17 participating urban districts.

Student performance is reported in terms of average scale scores on the NAEP science scale and the percentages of students who attained the achievement levels set by the National Assessment Governing Board. District results are compared to results for public school students in the nation, large cities nationally, and their home states. Student performance is reported by race/ethnicity and eligibility for free/reduced-price school lunch.

At grade 4, the average score in large cities overall and the average scores in 14 of the 17 participating districts were lower than the average score for the nation. Scores for Austin, Charlotte, and Jefferson County were not significantly different from the score for the nation.

At grade 8, the average score in large cities overall and the average scores in 16 of the 17 districts were lower than the average score for the nation. The score for Austin was not significantly different from the score for the nation.

Among the 17 urban districts that participated in the 2009 science assessment, scores for both fourth- and eighth-graders in 4 districts were higher than the scores for their respective peers attending public schools in large cities overall. Scores for both grades in 8 districts were lower.

More notes:

• Four TUDA districts (Austin; Charlotte; Jefferson County, KY; and Miami-Dade) had higher scores at both grade 4 and grade 8 than large cities nationally. San Diego and Boston had higher scores at grade 4 only, and Houston had higher scores at grade 8 only.

• Eight TUDA districts had lower scores than large cities nationally at both grades.

• In Austin, Houston, and Miami-Dade, eighth-grade Hispanic students scored higher than their peers in the nation.

• At grade 4, both the White-Black and White-Hispanic achievement gaps were smaller in Boston , Cleveland, and Philadelphia than the gap in large cities nationally.

• Miami-Dade achieved a smaller White-Hispanic gap than the national White-Hispanic gap at both grade 4 and grade 8.

• Black students at grade 4 in Boston and Charlotte had higher scores than Black students nationally.

• Students at grade 4 who were eligible for the National School Lunch Program had higher scores in 7 of the 17 participating districts than eligible students in large cities nationally.

Many more results are available at http://nationsreportcard.gov.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/the-nations-report-card-science-2009.html. Thanks!

Not Ready For College: Michigan


Complete Michigan data
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/not-ready-for-college-michigan.html. Thanks!

Post-Katrina Reforms Produce Achievement Gains and Conflict in New Orleans Schools


New school models and governing arrangements at pivotal point as New Orleans looks ahead

A new report on New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina finds the school system substantially changed from its condition five years ago. Well over half of the city’s 88 public schools are now charter schools that are independently operated but publicly authorized, funded, and evaluated. Proportionally more public school students — 71% — are in charter schools in New Orleans than in any other U.S. city. The percentage of students attending a low-performing school has fallen by half, from 67 percent to 34 percent.

In “New Schools in New Orleans,” author Jed Horne observes that before Katrina, the system was bankrupt and its management so corrupted that the FBI saw fit to set up a satellite branch within the school board’s central office. Student performance was at or near the bottom nationally. The hurricane was the coup de grace. Some 110 of 127 schoolhouses were destroyed, a catastrophe that also proved to be an opportunity for renewal.

Within weeks of Hurricane Katrina, officials turned the city’s schools over to the state-run Recovery School District (RSD) and gave the RSD five years to turn them around. The RSD had been established in 2003 to manage “recovery” from decades of academic failure but had taken over only five schools before Katrina. After the storm, the RSD took control of an additional 63 public schools and immediately began seeking charter organizations to take charge of as many as possible. The elected Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) retained authority over 16 schools considered still viable after the storm; 12 of these hastily sought and achieved charter status. The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) retained oversight of two of the city’s charter schools.

New Orleans’s polycentric administrative structure – with schools run by the state and the school board as well as by autonomous charter organizations – has fostered competition and performance gains. Furthering these developments, an infrastructure of support organizations has sprung up, key among them firms that align curriculum with toughened state standards and then develop metrics for continuously monitoring individual student achievement. Overarching local nonprofits such as New Schools for New Orleans and Teach NOLA have coordinated and supercharged the reform initiatives, and national organizations such as Teach for America and the New Teacher Project have expanded their presence in New Orleans.

Recently, New Orleans secured $28.5 million in federal “i3” funds for educational innovation. The award will go to the RSD and to New Schools for New Orleans primarily to lubricate the takeover and reorganization of failing schools.

December 2010 was a pivotal moment in the course of school restructuring, with a vote by BESE to renew the RSD’s authority over its portfolio of New Orleans schools. The decision, recommended by state education Superintendent Paul Pastorek, generated lively debate in the city, with some groups contending that diminished OPSB means school control is less local or less democratic. That view is countered by the author’s observation that local control is, in fact, far greater now that the city’s seven-member school board has been augmented by a growing cohort of charter school board members numbering in the hundreds. A fall 2010 poll by Tulane University’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives found that 60 percent of New Orleans residents opposed returning the schools to the OPSB.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/post-katrina-reforms-produce.html. Thanks!

The State of U.S. History Standards 2011


Presidents’ Day 2011 is right around the corner, but George Washington would be dismayed by the findings of The State of U.S. History Standards 2011 a new study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Historians Sheldon M. Stern and Jeremy A. Stern evaluated state standards for U.S. history in grades K-12. What they found is discouraging: Twenty-eight states—a majority—deserve D or F grades for their academic standards in this key subject. The average grade across all states is a dismal D. Among the few bright spots, South Carolina earns a straight A for its standards and six other jurisdictions—Alabama, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia—garner A-minuses.Alabama, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York and the District of Columbia – earn A-minuses. And three – Oklahoma, Georgia and Michigan – are in the B range. (The National Assessment's "framework" for U.S. history also fares well.)

State and Grade
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/the-state-of-us-history-standards-2011.html. Thanks!

Academic achievement of youth with hearing impairments lags


Full report

A gap exists between the academic achievement of youth with hearing impairments and their peers in the general population in reading, mathematics, science, and social studies, according to a new release by The National Center for Special Education Research. Facts from NLTS2: The Secondary School Experiences and Academic Performance of Students With Hearing Impairments uses data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 dataset to provide a national picture of the secondary school experiences and academic achievement of students with hearing impairments who received special education services.

The outcomes cover several key areas, including students’ experiences in general education academic courses and non-vocational special education courses, accommodations, supports, services provided to students, and academic achievement. In addition to the findings for the overall group, this fact sheet provides findings by parent-reported levels of hearing impairments.

Selected findings include:

• Secondary school students with hearing impairments took a range of courses in a given semester; on average, 61 percent of their courses were academic, 13 percent were vocational, and 26 percent were other nonacademic courses (e.g., physical education).

• More than three-fourths (76 percent) of students with hearing impairments attended a typical school with a wide variety of students, whereas nearly one-fifth (19 percent) attended a school serving students only with disabilities, and 4 percent attended another type of school (e.g, charter, alternative, hospital, or home school).

• At the classroom level, more than one-third (35%) of students with hearing impairments took all of their courses in a general education setting, and 21 percent of students with hearing impairments took all of their courses in a special education setting. A total of 78 percent of students with hearing impairments were enrolled in at least one course in a general education setting, and 64 percent were enrolled in at least one course in a special education setting.

• Most students with hearing impairments (93 percent) were provided some type of accommodation, support, or service from their schools(e.g., modifications to learning within the classroom such as additional time for taking tests, learning supports, technology aids).

• Higher percentages of youth with hearing impairments scored below the mean across subtests of academic achievement compared with students in the general population.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/academic-achievement-of-youth-with.html. Thanks!

Study Shows Year-end Test Scores Significantly Improved in Schools Using Web-based Tutor


Consistent use of ASSISTments, a platform developed at WPI over the past decade with more than $9 million in federal funding, is linked with increased student learning

Year-end test scores of Massachusetts middle school students whose teachers used ASSISTments, a Web-based tutoring platform developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), as a central part of their mathematics instruction were significantly better than those of students whose teachers did not use the platform, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Educational Computing Research. Conducted by Neil T. Heffernan, PhD, of WPI, and Kenneth R. Koedinger, PhD, and Elizabeth A. McLaughlin, both of Carnegie Mellon University, the study examined data collected from 1,240 seventh grade students in four schools in an urban Massachusetts school district.

The study compared students' seventh-grade year-end test scores to their comparable scores at the end of sixth grade. Students at three schools where ASSISTments was used were shown to significantly outperform their peers at the fourth school, where it was not used. The improvement in test scores was pronounced for all students in the schools where ASSISTments was used, and especially so for special education students whose learning needs are less likely to be met in regular class instruction.

The new study is the latest to show the effectiveness of ASSISTments in improving student performance. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Research on Technology in Education showed that fifth-graders in a rural school district who completed their daily homework using ASSISTments learned two-thirds more than students who used traditional paper and pencil methods.

ASSISTments (the name blends tutoring "assistance" with student "assessments") helps students learn by presenting them with problems and then offering carefully structured assistance. The software records how students use the system and meticulously tracks their progress. The system has been developed at WPI over the past decade wi th more than $9 million in support from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and other federal and state agencies.

At WPI, the ASSISTments platform is the heart of a research and school collaborative that currently includes 35 school districts across the United States that use the system for instruction and assessment and help improve it by adding content. ASSISTments lets teachers add content in any domain. WPI has received funding to create middle school math and science libraries, but teachers elsewhere have used the platform to develop content for such diverse topics such as English and French vocabulary and training teachers to recognize common misconceptions.

"ASSISTments is a powerful tool for understanding how well students are learning day to day," said Heffernan, professor of computer science and co-director of the university's Learning Sciences and Technologies Program." This, essentially, is the kind of formative assessment data that saves teachers' time and makes their teaching more effective because they know who needs help as it's needed and who can move forward and remain engaged and challenged.

"Teachers determine what instruction or remediation is needed to raise student achievement, which will also lead to improved scores on year-end tests," adds Heffernan, who leads the ASSISTments research team. "This is exactly the kind of data-driven instruction advocated by U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan, who cited ASSISTments in the 2010 National Education Technology Plan."

WPI's award-winning research has demonstrated that consistent use of ASSISTments significantly improves both testing and learning. Massachusetts has the most active participation in ASSISTments—hundreds of teachers and thousands of students use the tool in daily classwork and homework. Maine, where every student is assigned a laptop for academic use, recently deployed ASSISTments across a number of its middle schools, and the software has also been used in schools in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Montana. "Our goal is to make ASSISTments available to every school where there's an interest," says Heffernan. "While WPI owns the intellectual property, we've decided to make ASSISTments available free to schools and have briefed the leadership in three state departments of education about how they can use ASSISTments to help their schools."
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/study-shows-year-end-test-scores.html. Thanks!

Exercise helps overweight children think better, do better in math


Regular exercise improves the ability of overweight, previously inactive children to think, plan and even do math, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers report.

They hope the findings in 171 overweight 7- to 11-year-olds – all sedentary when the study started - gives educators the evidence they need to ensure that regular, vigorous physical activity is a part of every school day, said Dr. Catherine Davis, clinical health psychologist at GHSU's Georgia Prevention Institute and corresponding author on the study in Health Psychology

"I hope these findings will help reestablish physical activity's important place in the schools in helping kids stay physically well and mentally sharp," Davis said. "For children to reach their potential, they need to be active."

To measure cognition, researchers used the Cognitive Assessment System and Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement III that measure abilities such as planning and academic skills such as math and reading. A subset of the children received functional magnetic resonance imaging highlighting increased or decreased areas of brain activity.

MRIs showed those who exercised experienced increased brain activity in the prefrontal cortex – an area associated with complex thinking, decision making and correct social behavior - and decreased activity in an area of the brain that sits behind it. The shift forward appears consistent with more rapidly developing cognitive skills, Davis said.

And the more they exercised, the better the result. Intelligence scores increased an average 3.8 points in those exercising 40 minutes per day after school for three months with a smaller benefit in those exercising 20 minutes daily.

Activity in the part of their brain responsible for so-called executive function also increased in children who exercised. "In kids you just don't know what impact you are going to have when you improve their ability to control their attention, to behave better in school, to make better choices," Davis notes. "Maybe they will be more likely to stay in school and out of trouble."

Similar improvements were seen in math skills; interestingly, no improvements were found in reading skill. Researchers note that improved math achievement was "remarkable" since no math lessons were given and suggests longer intervention could produce even better results.

Children in the exercise program played hard, with running games, hula hoops and jump ropes, raising their heart rates to 79 percent of maximum, which is considered vigorous.

Cognitive improvements likely resulted from the brain stimulation that came from movement rather than resulting cardiovascular improvements, such as increased blood and oxygen supplies, Davis said. "You cannot move your body without your brain."

The researchers hypothesize that such vigorous physical activity promotes development of brain systems that underlie cognition and behavior. Animal studies have shown that aerobic activity increases growth factors so the brain gets more blood vessels, more neurons and more connections between neurons. Studies in older adults have shown exercise benefits the brain and Davis's study extends the science to children and their ability to learn in school.

About one-third of U.S. children are overweight. Davis suspects exercise would have a similar impact on their leaner counterparts.

You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/exercise-helps-overweight-children.html. Thanks!



Many school officials react in exactly the wrong ways when one of their students completes suicide, according to the authors of a new book.

While they may be well-intentioned, administrators who don’t send the right messages may make copycat suicides more likely, and are not providing the help needed by others hurting from the tragedy.

“Without the proper knowledge and resources, many school administrators may implement strategies that could actually increase the risk of suicide among students,” said Darcy Haag Granello, professor of counselor education at Ohio State University.

Granello is co-author of the book Suicide, Self-Injury and Violence in the Schools: Assessment, Prevention and Intervention Strategies. She co-authored the portion of the book dealing with suicide with her husband, Paul Granello, also an associate professor of counselor education at Ohio State.

While school officials may be well-meaning in their response to a suicide, the best way to react is actually counterintuitive to our cultural norms, said Paul Granello.

“We naturally want to have ceremonies and memorials, flowers at the fence and burning candles. But when you do this in the case of a suicide, it sends the wrong message to troubled youth who might also be contemplating suicide,” he said.

“They may see this outpouring of grief as a glorification of the person who completed suicide. Some troubled people might think that they want to get all that attention, too. That could cause contagion.”

Even the way school officials and others talk about a suicide can send the wrong message.

For example, many well-meaning adults may say that a student killed himself to “end the pain.”

“What a dangerous message that is for young people,” Darcy Granello said.

“It tells them that suicide is the way to end pain. But suicide is never that simple. There is never a direct line from some bad things happening to someone to a choice to complete suicide.”

Email this to a friend

“We naturally want to have ceremonies and memorials, flowers at the fence and burning candles. But when you do this in the case of a suicide, it sends the wrong message to troubled youth who might also be contemplating suicide.”

Instead, adults should talk about how suicide transfers pain from the person who killed him or herself to a whole community who is now in pain, she said.

Schools should avoid holding in-school memorials, or cancelling classes or school. And while education about mental health issues and suicide is important, schools should not do this in large assemblies. All these actions can serve to sensationalize the death.

For the same reason, school officials should minimize discussion of the details of the suicide.

“Students learn from hearing the story of the student death, and copycat suicides can result,” Paul Granello said.

“Instead of focusing on the suicide itself, focus on what help if available and how people are responding to the grief. The focus should be on the community response.”

But that doesn’t mean suicide should not be discussed at all – quite the contrary, Darcy Granello emphasized.

Schools should provide students with facts about suicide risk and mental health resources. This should be done in small groups, or individually if needed.

Adults shouldn’t be afraid to talk about suicide and to directly ask troubled students if they are thinking about suicide, Darcy Granello said.

“There’s a lot of research that shows that talking about suicide appropriately actually reduces the risk – it doesn’t increase it,” she said.

“Young people are already talking about suicide. They are just talking about it with friends and others who don’t know any more than they do. We need to find ways to have the conversation with young people.”

The main message to students should be that their problems are not unsolvable. In most case, suicides result from undiagnosed or untreated depression.

“About 80 percent of cases of depression are treatable,” Paul Granello said. “The tragedy is that we have this epidemic of suicide among young people, when in most cases the cause is depression that could be treated.”

Teachers and administrators should be especially alert after a suicide for students who may be taking the death particularly hard.

Studies show that only about one-quarter of young people would tell an adult if they knew of a peer with suicidal thoughts, according to Darcy Granello. That means that, after a suicide, many of the friends of the victim may be feeling guilty that they kept this secret.

“These young people are at a much higher risk of suicide themselves because they knew this secret and didn’t do anything,” she said.

“Part of the response by schools should be to work with all these friends who kept secrets. And part of the prevention strategy should be helping students recognize that keeping secrets about suicide is not smart.”

While dealing with a suicide may seem overwhelming to school officials, there are resources to help them. The key is to have a plan in place before tragedy strikes.

“If you have a suicide at your school today, now is not the time to figure out what to do. That is how mistakes are made and inappropriate actions are taken,” Darcy Granello said.

Fortunately for schools, a research-based plan for dealing with suicides is already available for them. It is called the School-based Youth Suicide Prevention Guide, available online through the Florida Mental Health Institute: http://theguide.fmhi.usf.edu/
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/schools-often-react-poorly-to-student.html. Thanks!

Researchers pique girls' interest in computing science


A joint research project between the University of Alberta's Faculty of Education and the Department of Computing Science has found that, for high-school girls, the fun is in making video games, not just playing them.

Computing science professor Duane Szafron and fellow U of A researchers Mike Carbonaro, Jonathan Schaeffer and Maria Cutumisu say that women in computing science are rare, but their study shows that if you want to get more females interested in computing science, you have to rewrite the program, so to speak.

"There's been a huge push throughout North America to try and get girls to go into computing science, but [educators are] having a lot of challenges convincing them," said the Faculty of Education's Carbonaro. "The findings are important, as they demonstrate a way to motivate girls' interest in computing science"

In their study, the researchers wanted to see whether girls would gain as much interest in game development as they boys in the class control group. To facilitate the experiment, they introduced a group of local Grade 10 students to a program called ScriptEase, a tool that allowed them to develop and design their own games. A key factor in the study was having male participants who had more experience than the females in gaming.

Szafron says that there is an inherent creative component to computing science, and that having a student design and construct something using the tool is one way to allow them to investigate that aspect of computing science. "We thought we should have female students create games and see if they are just as excited about making games as male students and see whether it's an attractor to computing science that is independent of gender," he said.

Their findings indicated that female students enjoyed creating games as much as their male counterparts; further, they preferred game construction to activities such as story writing. Further, he noted the female students gained and used practical skills that are crucial to understanding computing science.

"The female students built games that were every bit as good as the male students made, even though the male students had more experience with playing games," said Szafron. "In terms of the quality of the games developed and the abstraction skills that the students learned, which could translate to knowledge of competing science—and in terms of the amount of fun that they had—there was no difference between the two groups."

According to Carbonaro, computing science teachers need to look at redesigning the types of projects and content they use in class to make them more "female-user friendly."

"If you want more females in computing science, you need to radically change the curriculum. You need to provide activities that are more gender neutral so that they'll be attracted to the discipline."
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/researchers-pique-girls-interest-in.html. Thanks!

Popular students — but not the most popular — more likely to torment peers


While experts often view aggressive behavior as a maladjusted reaction typical of social outcasts, a new University of California, Davis, study finds that it’s actually popular adolescents — but not the most popular ones — who are particularly likely to torment their peers.

“Our findings underscore the argument that — for the most part — attaining and maintaining a high social status likely involves some level of antagonistic behavior,” said Robert Faris, an assistant professor of sociology at UC Davis.

The study, co-authored by UC Davis sociology professor Diane Felmlee, is published in the February issue of the American Sociological Review. It also finds that those students in the top 2 percent of the school social hierarchy — along with those at the bottom — are the least aggressive.

“The fact that they both have reduced levels of aggression is true, but it can be attributed to quite different things,” Faris said. “The ones at the bottom don’t have the social power or as much capacity to be aggressive whereas the ones at the top have all that power, but don’t need to use it.”

Students’ popularity was determined by how central they were in their school’s web of friendships. The authors define aggression as behavior directed toward harming or causing pain to another. It can be physical (hitting, shoving or kicking), verbal (name-calling or threats) or indirect (spreading rumors or ostracism).

In general, the study, which followed kids over the course of a school year, finds that increases in social status for both males and females are accompanied by subsequent increases in aggression until a student approaches the top of the social hierarchy.

According to the researchers, adolescents in the top 2 percent of the social hierarchy — where aggression peaks — have an average aggression rate that is 28 percent greater than students at the very bottom and 40 percent greater than students at the very top. Aggression rate is calculated based on the number of classmates a student victimized in the past three months.

“Aggression usually requires some degree of social support, power or influence,” Faris said. “This is mostly because students expect to see each other on a daily basis at school and any act of aggression brings risk of retaliation. Those at the center of the web of social ties are, we believe, more powerful and may deter retribution.”

Yet, those students at the very top of the social hierarchy — who seemingly possess the most social capacity for aggressiveness — generally aren’t aggressive.

“If an adolescent at the top of the social hierarchy were to act aggressively towards his or her peers, such action could signal insecurity or weakness rather than cement the student’s position,” said Faris. “And, it’s possible that, at the highest level, they may receive more benefits from being pro-social and kind.”

Faris also acknowledged the possibility that kids at the top level are “somehow different” and “not disposed to aggressiveness in the first place.”

The Faris/Felmlee study relies on data from The Context of Adolescent Substance Use survey, a longitudinal survey of adolescents at 19 public schools in three counties in North Carolina that began in the spring of 2002. The Faris/Felmlee study is based on 3,722 eighth-, ninth- and 10th -grade students who participated during the 2004-5 school year.

While the study focuses on a sample of small-town and rural North Carolina students, Faris expects similar results in bigger cities.

“I would be surprised if kids in New York City or L.A. were radically different than kids in North Carolina,” Faris said.

As for policy implications of the study, Faris said interventions targeted specifically at aggressive kids or victims miss the point.

“I would start by focusing on the kids who are not involved and work on encouraging them to be less passive or approving of these sorts of antagonistic relationships,” he said. “It’s through these kids who are not involved that the aggressive kids get their power.”
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/popular-students-but-not-most-popular.html. Thanks!

Working more than 20 hours a week in high school found harmful


Many teens work part-time during the school year, and in the current economic climate, more youths may take jobs to help out with family finances. But caution is advised: Among high school students, working more than 20 hours a week during the school year can lead to academic and behavior problems.

That's the finding of a new study by researchers at the University of Washington, University of Virginia, and Temple University. It appears in the January/February issue of the journal, Child Development.

In a reanalysis of longitudinal data collected in the late 1980s, researchers examined the impact of getting a job or leaving work among middle-class teens in 10th and 11th grades. Drawing from the full sample of about 1,800 individuals, the researchers compared adolescents who got jobs to similar teens who didn't work, and adolescents who left jobs to similar teens who kept working.

Using advances in statistical methods, the researchers matched the teens on a long list of background and personality characteristics that are known to influence whether or not a young person chooses to work; using this technique allowed more certainty in estimating the effects of working on adolescents' development than in the original analysis of the data.

The researchers found that working for more than 20 hours a week was associated with declines in school engagement and how far adolescents were expected to go in school, and increases in problem behavior such as stealing, carrying a weapon, and using alcohol and illegal drugs. They also found that things didn't get better when teens who were working more than 20 hours a week cut back their hours or stopped working altogether. In contrast, working 20 hours or less a week had negligible academic, psychological, or behavioral effects.

"Working part-time during the school year has been a fixture of American adolescence for more than 30 years," notes Kathryn C. Monahan, a postdoctoral research scientist at the University of Washington, who led the study. "Today, a substantial proportion of American high school students hold part-time jobs during the school year, and a large number of them work more than 20 hours each week.

"Although working during high school is unlikely to turn law-abiding teenagers into felons or cause students to flunk out of school, the extent of the adverse effects we found is not trivial, and even a small decline in school engagement or increase in problem behavior may be of concern to many parents," she adds.

The bottom line, suggests Monahan: "Parents, educators, and policymakers should monitor and constrain the number of hours adolescents work while they are enrolled in high school."
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/working-more-than-20-hours-week-in-high.html. Thanks!

Child care quality key for children from disadvantaged homes


Decades of research have demonstrated the importance of the resources in children's homes and the benefits of high-quality interactions with parents in supporting healthy development. High-quality child care plays a similar, albeit less powerful, role. Children who come from more difficult home environments and have lower-quality child care have more social and emotional problems, but high-quality child care may help make up for their home environments.

Those are the findings of a new study by researchers at the University of Denver, Georgetown University, American University, Harvard University, and Auburn University. The research is published in the January/February issue of the journal, Child Development.

Researchers used information from a large-scale longitudinal study carried out under the auspices of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development followed children from birth through the middle-school years.

This research looked at the double jeopardy of children at ages 2, 3, and 4-1/2 who come from more difficult home environments and have lower-quality child care. Difficult family environments were characterized by fewer resources, fewer learning opportunities, and less sensitivity and acceptance of the child as rated by trained observers in the home. Lower-quality child care was characterized by fewer observed learning opportunities, caregivers who used negative or neutral facial expressions and tone of voice, as well as insensitive responses, as rated by trained observers in the care environment. The study also assessed the child's age, gender, race, and ethnicity; the family's resources in the child's first 6 months of life and at each assessment age; the age the child started child care; and how many hours per week the child spent in nonmaternal care.

The study found that children in difficult home and child care environments had more social-emotional problems--such as being anxious or fearful; behaving disruptively or aggressively; or being less helpful, friendly, and open to peers--than children who attended lower-quality care but were raised in more advantaged and supportive homes.

It also found that when children who grow up in homes that lack important influences are enrolled in high-quality child care, the child care may compensate for the children's challenging home environments. The researchers posit that experiencing high-quality child care may offer children models of positive ways to express themselves and interact with the world, and provide a safe emotional space to grow and learn. In so doing, children may be protected from developing anxious, fearful, aggressive, or unfriendly behaviors.

"This pattern of findings is consistent with existing evidence that the quality of child care that young children experience may matter more for those from more disadvantaged home environments," according to Sarah Enos Watamura, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Denver, who directed the investigation.

"The study also confirms the importance of integrating early intervention strategies and policies across home and child care environments."
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/child-care-quality-key-for-children.html. Thanks!

Early childhood education program yields high economic returns


For every $1 invested in a Chicago early childhood education program, nearly $11 is projected to return to society over the children's lifetimes -- equivalent to an 18 percent annual return on program investment, according to a study led by University of Minnesota professor of child development Arthur Reynolds in the College of Education and Human Development.

For the analysis, Reynolds and other researchers evaluated the effectiveness of the Chicago Public Schools' federally funded Child Parent Centers (CPCs) established in 1967. Their work represents the first long-term economic analysis of an existing, large-scale early education program. Researchers surveyed study participants and their parents, and analyzed education, employment, public aid, criminal justice, substance use and child welfare records for the participants through to age 26.

"Our findings provide strong evidence that sustained high-quality early childhood programs can contribute to well-being for individuals and society," said Reynolds, director of the Chicago Longitudinal Study and co-director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the University of Minnesota. "The large-scale CPC program has one of the highest economic returns of any social program for young people. As public institutions are being pressed to cut costs, our findings suggest that increasing access to high-quality programs starting in preschool and continuing into the early grades is an efficient use of public resources."

The CPC program in the project provided services for low-income families beginning at age three in 20 school sites. Kindergarten and school-age services are provided up to age nine (third grade). Funded by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, CPC is the second oldest (after Head Start) federally funded preschool program. The analysis appears in the January/February issue of Child Development, the journal of the Society for Research in Child Development. Co-authoring researchers included Judy Temple, Barry White and Suh-Ruu Ou at the University of Minnesota and Dylan Robertson from the Chicago Public Schools.

Reynolds and his colleagues did the cost-benefit analysis of the CPC using information collected on about 900 children enrolled in the 20 centers starting when they were three and first enrolled in a preschool program. The study continued until the children were nine and taking part in a school-age program that featured smaller classes, teacher aides, and instructional and family support. Follow-up interviews were done in early adulthood and information was collected from many sources until age 26. These children were compared to a group of about 500 comparable children who didn't take part in the CPC but participated in the usual educational interventions for disadvantaged youths in Chicago schools.

The CPC resulted in significantly higher rates of attendance at 4-year colleges and employment in higher-skilled jobs and significantly lower rates of felony arrests and symptoms of depression in young adulthood.

The program's economic benefits in 2007 dollars exceeded costs, including increased earnings and tax revenues, averted costs related to crime and savings for child welfare, special education and grade retention. The preschool part showed the strongest economic benefits providing a total return to society of $10.83 per dollar invested -- equivalent to an 18 percent annual return on program investment. Gains varied by child, program and family group.

When the researchers included the benefits from reductions in smoking, total returns rose to more than $12 per dollar invested. The school-age program yielded a return of about $4 per dollar invested (annual rate of return of 10 percent) and the combined preschool and school-age program (preschool to third grade) yielded returns of $8.24 per dollar invested (annual rate of return of 18 percent), based on average net benefits per child of $38,000 above and beyond less extensive intervention.

Children at higher levels of risk experienced the highest economic benefits, including males ($17.88 per dollar invested; a 22% annual return), children who had taken part in preschool for a year ($13.58 per dollar invested; a 21% annual return) and children from higher-risk families, including those whose parents had not graduated from high school ($15.88 per dollar invested; a 20% annual return).

The researchers identified five key principles of the CPC that they say led to its effectiveness, including providing services that are of sufficient length or duration, are high in intensity and enrichment, feature small class sizes and teacher-student ratios, are comprehensive in scope and are implemented by well-trained and well-compensated staff. A further unique feature of the research is that the origin of the economic returns can be empirically traced through a chain of early educational advantages to cumulate in long-term effects.

The findings from this analysis can be useful to policymakers and school superintendents across the nation as they make funding decisions. A lot of states are thinking of scaling back on early childhood investments, but this analysis suggests the opposite, Reynolds said.

"Access to effective programs like CPC should be increased," Reynolds said. "In scarce times, policymakers should divest in programs that aren't working and reserve the scarce resources for the most effective."
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/early-childhood-education-program.html. Thanks!

ParentCorps helps children do better in school


A study of NYU Child Study Center program, ParentCorps, shows that parents can play valuable role in helping young children succeed despite stressful circumstances

Researchers at the NYU Child Study Center demonstrated that a brief program for families of Pre-Kindergarten students attending schools in disadvantaged urban communities improved children's behavior at school. The study, called "Promoting effective parenting practices and preventing child behavior problems in school among ethnically diverse families from underserved, urban communities," was published in the February 2011 issue of Child Development.

Dr. Laurie Miller Brotman and her colleagues spent several years developing ParentCorps, a program for families of young children as they transition to school. ParentCorps includes a series of 13 group sessions for parents and children held at the school during early evening hours, facilitated by trained school staff and mental health professionals. The program is unique by reaching parents through public schools in underserved communities to help them learn a set of parenting strategies. For example, parents can learn ways to establish routines and rules for the family, reinforce positive behavior and provide effective consequences for misbehavior. ParentCorps helps each parent to select from a portfolio of scientifically-proven strategies that will work for them based on their own family goals, values and culture. By bringing families and early childhood educators together to support and learn from each other, the ParentCorps program helps young children succeed.

"Rich or poor, urban or rural, every parent wants their child to succeed " said Laurie Miller Brotman, PhD, the Corzine Family Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU Child Study Center. "There are hundreds of studies that show that parenting under stress can lead to negative outcomes for children. Parents who are struggling to make ends meet, parents who experience depression, parents who are raising children on their own – all need extra support in their important role as parent."

Using a rigorous experimental design, where some schools were assigned to receive ParentCorps and some receive school services as usual, the study examined the impact of ParentCorps among 171 children enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten across eight public elementary schools in a large NYC school district, representing an ethnically diverse population.

Despite multiple demands and stressors, parents made the time to come to the 13-session family series to share with and learn from other parents. "We saw great enthusiasm for and commitment to a program that helps young children do well in school, and this was true for parents and teachers from all different backgrounds," said Dr. Esther Calzada, one of the study co-authors.

In schools that offered ParentCorps, parents had improved knowledge of evidence-based parenting strategies, reported using more effective discipline strategies and were observed in the home to be more responsive to their children during play interactions. Most importantly, by the end of the Pre-Kindergarten year, relative to control schools, children in schools with ParentCorps, were rated by their teachers to be better behaved in the classroom and to show more social and emotional competencies, foundational skills for learning.

Based on the very promising findings from this study, Brotman and her team are conducting a second study that examines the long-term benefits on classroom behavior and academic achievement in over 1000 children. "All families deserve to have access to resources and services that will help their children succeed," Brotman said.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/parentcorps-helps-children-do-better-in.html. Thanks!

New Report Reveals School Boards’ Strong Commitment to Advancing Public Education


A report released by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and the Iowa School Boards Foundation gives new insights into the workings of America’s nearly 14,000 school boards.

The report, School Boards Circa 2010: Governance in the Accountability Era, finds that school board members are increasingly concerned about student achievement, and their work is further focusing on increasing student learning and preparing students with 21st century skills to compete in the global economy.

The report, authored by researchers Frederick Hess and Olivia Meeks of the American Enterprise Institute, compiles responses of more than 1,000 school board members and superintendents from all types of school districts—urban, suburban, and rural. Among the report’s findings:

* Two-thirds of those surveyed see an urgent need to improve student achievement, and nine out of 10 are concerned about an overly narrow focus on achievement.
* School board members and superintendents have similar goals for preparing their students for college, the workplace, and, above all, "a satisfying and productive life."
* School board members, especially those in large districts, are more representative of the communities they serve than state legislatures and members of Congress. Boards now include women (44 percent are female) at more than twice the rate of the U.S. House Representatives (17.5 percent) and Senate (17 percent).
* School board members tend to be well educated—nearly 75 percent of members surveyed hold at least a bachelor’s degree—and most describe their political views as ideologically moderate. Only 17.6 percent have ever been affiliated with a teachers union.
* A major concern for school board members is dealing with the economic downturn and decline in local real estate values and state revenues. More than two-thirds of board members ranked their funding and economic situations as extremely urgent.
* More than 88 percent of board members report that they almost always or often turn to their superintendents to get information to make decisions, giving the superintendent a crucial role.

The report is the first comprehensive national survey of school boards in nearly a decade. It provides national data on who serves on school boards, what board members think about a number of school reform initiatives, how they do their work, how school board elections are carried out, and the nature of the relationship between the school board and the superintendent.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/new-report-reveals-school-boards-strong.html. Thanks!

School-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs work


The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions

This article presents findings from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students. Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement. School teaching staff successfully conducted SEL programs. The use of 4 recommended practices for developing skills and the presence of implementation problems moderated program outcomes. The findings add to the growing empirical evidence regarding the positive impact of SEL programs. Policy makers, educators, and the public can contribute to healthy development of children by supporting the incorporation of evidence-based SEL programming into standard educational practice.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/school-based-universal-social-and.html. Thanks!

The rise of K-12 blended learning

[Click here to download the full white paper]



Online learning is sweeping across America. In the year 2000, roughly 45,000 K–12 students took an online course. In 2009, more than 3 million K–12 students did. What was originally a distance- learning phenomenon no longer is. Most of the growth is occurring in blended-learning environments, in which students learn online in an adult-supervised environment at least part of the time. As this happens, online learning has the potential to transform America’s education system by serving as the backbone of a system that offers more personalized learning approaches for all students.

In Disrupting Class, the authors project that by 2019, 50 percent of all high school courses will be delivered online. This pattern of growth is characteristic of a disruptive innovation—an innovation that transforms a sector characterized by products or services that are complicated, expensive, inaccessible, and centralized into one with products or services that are simple, affordable, accessible, convenient, and often customizable. Think personal computers, the iPod and mp3s, Southwest Airlines, and TurboTax. At the beginning of any disruptive innovation, the new technology takes root in areas of nonconsumption—where the alternative is nothing at all, so the simple, new innovation is infinitely better. More users adopt it as the disruptive innovation predictably improves.

Online learning fits the pattern. It started by serving students in circumstances where there is no alternative for learning—in the advanced courses that many schools struggle to offer in- house; in small, rural, and urban schools that are unable to offer a broad set of courses with highly qualified teachers in certain subject areas; in remedial courses for students who need to recover credits to graduate; and with home-schooled and homebound students.

Nearly all of these instances tended to be in distance-learning environments initially—outside of a traditional school environment and removed from an in-person teacher. A simultaneous explosion in home schooling—from roughly 800,000 students in 1999 to roughly 2 million today—was fueled by the rise of online learning and full-time virtual schools.

The growth of online learning in brick-and-mortar schools carries with it a bigger opportunity that has not existed in the past with education technology, which has been treated as an add-on to the current education system and conventional classroom structure. Online learning has the potential to be a disruptive force that will transform the factory-like, monolithic structure that has dominated America’s schools into a new model that is student-centric, highly personalized for each learner, and more productive, as it delivers dramatically better results at the same or lower cost.

Policymakers and education leaders must adopt the right policies for this to happen. There is a significant risk that the existing education system will co-opt online learning as it blends it into its current flawed model—and, just as is the case now, too few students will receive an excellent education. State elected officials, districtsuperintendents, and school principals must act now to prevent the cramming of online learning into the traditional system and to foster its transformative potential. As policymakers open the gates for innovation by creating zones with increased autonomy, they must simultaneously hold providers accountable for results so that the adoption of online learning leads to radically better outcomes for students.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/the-rise-of-k-12-blended-learning.html. Thanks!



The National Council on Teacher Quality has released its fourth annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook, reviewing state laws, rules and regulations that govern the teaching profession. Designed as a companion to the 2009 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, which graded the states on their teacher policies related to teacher preparation, alternate routes, licensure, teacher evaluation, compensation, tenure and dismissal policies, the 2010 edition provides customized Blueprints for Change to help policymakers in each state prioritize among the many areas of teacher policy in need of reform.

Each state report identifies the policy areas most in need of critical attention, as well as "lowhanging fruit," policies that can be addressed in relatively short order. Across the states, most teacher policies suffer from:
• Performance management policies that are disconnected from teacher effectiveness;
• Vague and/or weak guidelines for teacher preparation;
• Licensure requirements that do not ensure that teachers have appropriate content knowledge; and
• Obstacles that prevent expansion of the teacher pipeline.

NCTQ identified 11 specific policy areas in need of critical attention across states. In each of these critical reform areas, there are leading states that are moving in the right direction and sometimes serving as models for other states. Massachusetts, for example, was assigned the fewest critical attention areas of any of the states, with just three, although the critical attention areas Massachusetts needs to address are the particularly crucial and hot-button issues: connecting evaluation, tenure and dismissal policy to teacher effectiveness. At the same time, there are three states – Colorado, Oklahoma and Rhode Island – that, while still having a significant number of critical attention areas to address, do not have evaluation, tenure and dismissal identified as serious issues in their Blueprints. These are states to watch in these policy arenas.

In all, 27 states need to address nine or more of the 11 critical attention areas identified by NCTQ. Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon were assigned every single critical attention area.

Each state’s Blueprint for Change, as well as a national summary, is available here.

Key Findings: Because of the federal Race to the Top competition, 2010 was not a typical year in teacher policy. Almost every state entered the race, and their efforts to be competitive and secure some of the $4.3 billion in federal funds led to a number of significant new laws and regulations:

__ The latest policy review found an increase in the number of states requiring annual evaluations of all teachers (from 15 states in 2009 to 21 states in 2010) and a more than doubling of the number of states requiring that evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion in teacher evaluations (from 4 states in 2009 to 10 states in 2010).

__ The review also revealed a large spike in the number of states adopting policies for holding teacher preparation programs in their states accountable based on the academic performance of students taught by their graduates (from just Louisiana piloting an effort in 2009 to 14 states in 2010) .

__ Among the 12 Race to the Top winners, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Tennessee had the fewest critical areas to address and are states worth watching as the program moves forward on teacher policy implementation.

Most states' evaluation, tenure and dismissal policies remain disconnected from classroom effectiveness.

__ Teacher evaluation is a critical attention area in 42 states because the vast majority of states do not ensure that evaluations, whether state or locally developed, preclude teachers from receiving satisfactory ratings if those teachers are found to be ineffective in the classroom. In addition, the majority of states still does not require annual evaluations of all veteran teachers, and most still fail to include any objective measures of student learning in the teacher evaluations they do require.

__ In 46 states, teachers are granted tenure with little or no attention paid to how effective they are with students in their classrooms. While there are a few states that have vague requirements for some consideration of evidence, and a few others that promise that teacher evaluations will “inform” tenure decisions, only Colorado, Delaware, Oklahoma and Rhode Island demand that evidence of student learning be the preponderant or decisive criterion in such decisions.

__ Dismissal is a critical attention area in 46 states. There are at least two state leaders taking this issue head on. In Oklahoma, recent legislation requires that tenured teachers be terminated if they are rated “ineffective” for two consecutive years, or rated as “needs improvement” for three years running, or if they do not average at least an “effective” rating over a five-year teaching period. In Rhode Island, teachers who receive two years of ineffective evaluations will be dismissed. Any teacher with five years of ineffective ratings would not be eligible to have his or her certification renewed by the state.

Requirements for teacher preparation too often fail to ensure teacher candidates have the most critical knowledge and skills.

__ Despite compelling evidence about the most effective ways to teach young children to read, NCTQ identified 43 states with critical work to be done to ensure elementary teacher candidates enter the classroom with these essential skills.

__ Forty-nine states have critical work to do to ensure that elementary school teachers statewide have a deep conceptual knowledge of the mathematics that they will teach. Massachusetts is the clear role model, requiring elementary teacher candidates to pass a rigorous test of mathematics content covering topics specifically geared to the needs of elementary teachers.

__ Twenty-two states fail to differentiate preparation between elementary and middle school teachers, allowing middle school teachers, in all or at least some circumstances, to teach on a K-8 generalist license.

__ Only 14 states use student achievement data as part of their approval processes for teacher preparation programs, and most of these are newly coming on line as part of states' winning Race to the Top proposals.

In almost every state, licensure requirements do not ensure that teachers know the subject matter they will teach.

__ 34 states have significant licensure loopholes that allow teachers to teach without passing all required subject-matter assessments.

__ In every state but Massachusetts, the expectations for how well elementary teacher candidates will perform on licensing exams are exceedingly low.

Rather than working to expand the teacher pipeline, many states create obstacles in their alternate routes to certification.

__ Alternate route admissions is a critical attention area in 38 states. Many states do not provide flexibility to nontraditional candidates in how candidates demonstrate subject-matter knowledge; other states do not ensure that alternate route teachers have subject-matter expertise.

__ Alternate route diversity is a critical attention area in 28 states that limit program providers and/or the grades and subjects that can be taught by alternate route teachers.

The report also identifies "low-hanging fruit" for each state, recommendations for policy changes that can be made in relatively short order, as well as longer-term systemic issues that states need to keep on their reform agendas. Examples of low-hanging fruit include changing the timing of basic skills testing so that it is a condition of admission to a teacher preparation program rather than deferred until licensure and specifically requiring that new teachers receive evaluations early in the first year so that those new to the classroom can get early feedback and support. Three systemic issues are identified for all states – performance management, pension reform and certification of special education teachers.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/teacher-policies-in-need-of-reform.html. Thanks!

Sideline test accurately detects athletes' concussions in minutes


A simple test performed at the sideline of sporting events can accurately detect concussions in athletes, according to study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Current sideline tests can leave a wide amount a brain function untested following concussion. Penn researchers showed that this simple test was superior to current methods and accurately and reliably identified athletes with head trauma. The study appears online now in Neurology.

The one-minute test involves the athlete reading single digit numbers displayed on index-sized cards. Any increase (worsening) in the time needed to complete the test suggests a concussion has occurred, particularly if the delay is greater than five seconds compared to the individual's baseline test time.

The test, called the King-Devick test, captures impairments of eye movement, attention, language and other symptoms of impaired brain function. It looks at saccadic and other types of eye movements that are frequently abnormal following a concussion.

"This rapid screening test provides an effective way to detect early signs of concussion, which can improve outcomes and hopefully prevent repetitive concussions," said the study's senior author, Laura Balcer, MD, MSCE, Professor of Neurology, Ophthalmology and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "If validated in future studies, this test has the potential to become a standard sideline test for athletes."

While more extensive testing can best capture post-concussion syndrome symptoms, and these tests may be influenced by other factors such as intellectual ability or depression, tests of rapid number naming such as the King-Devick test are objective and capture many aspects of function. This may help coaches and athletic trainers determine whether players should be removed from games or not.

As emphasized by the study's lead author, Kristin Galetta, MS, "Concussion is a complex type of brain injury that is not visible on the routine scans we do of the brain, yet is detectable when we measure important aspects of brain function, such as vision. The K-D test is only one test on the sidelines, though, and the diagnosis of concussion requires a combination of tests and input of medical professionals."

In a study of 39 boxers and MMA fighters, post-fight time test scores were significantly higher (worse) for those who had head trauma during their matches (59.1 ± 7.4 vs 41.0 ± 6.7 seconds, p < 0.0001). Among those with head trauma, fighters who lost consciousness had even higher post-fight scores compared to those who didn't lose consciousness (65.5 ± 2.9 vs 52.7 ± 2.9 seconds, p < 0.0001). Test times improved by more than a second on average for participants who did not have head trauma, while average times for those who suffered head trauma worsened by 11.1 seconds. Fighters who lost consciousness were 18 seconds slower on the test after their bouts.

The study was funded by a grant from the National Eye Institute.

A follow-up study, looking prospectively at college athletes at the University of Pennsylvania, is examining changes in athlete test scores over the course of a season, reliability of retest or tests conducted by different testers such as athletic trainers, and establish test norms and expected ranges of pre-competition scores for this age group. It will also provide large-scale results to further evaluate the effectiveness of the test to identify closed head injury and concussions accurately.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/sideline-test-accurately-detects.html. Thanks!

Far too much emphasis on a single pathway to success: attending and graduating from a four-year college


Despite decades of efforts to reform education, and billions of dollars of expenditures, the harsh reality is that America is still failing to prepare millions of its young people to lead successful lives as adults. Evidence of this failure is everywhere: in the dropout epidemic that plagues our high schools and colleges; in the harsh fact that just 30 percent of our young adults earn a bachelor's degree by age 27; and in teen and young adult employment rates not seen since the Great Depression.

Today, the Pathways to Prosperity Project, which is based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is releasing a major new report that examines the reasons for our failure to prepare so many young adults, and advances an exciting vision for how the United States might regain the leadership in educational attainment it held for over a century. Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century contends that our national strategy for education and youth development has been too narrowly focused on an academic, classroom-based approach. It is now clear that this strategy has produced only incremental gains in achievement and attainment, even as many other nations are leapfrogging the United States. In response, the report advocates development of a comprehensive pathways network to serve youth in high school and beyond.

This pathways system would be based on three essential elements. The first is the development of a broader vision of school reform that embraces multiple pathways to help young people successfully navigate the journey from adolescence to adulthood. The report contends that at present, we place far too much emphasis on a single pathway to success: attending and graduating from a four-year college. Yet only 30 percent of young adults successfully complete this preferred pathway. Meanwhile, even in the second decade of the 21st century, most jobs do not require a bachelor's. The report notes that while the United States is expected to create 47 million jobs in the 10-year period ending in 2018, only a third of these jobs will require a bachelor's or higher degree. Almost as many jobs - some 30 percent - will only require an associate's degree or a post-secondary occupational credential. Given these realities, the report argues we need to broaden the range of high-quality pathways that we offer young adults. This would include far more emphasis on career counseling and high-quality career education, as well as apprenticeship programs and community colleges as viable routes to well-paying jobs.

Second, the report argues that we need to ask our nation's employers to play a greatly expanded role in supporting the pathways system, and in providing more opportunities for young adults to participate in work-based learning and actual jobs related to their programs of study. Third, the report contends that we need to develop a new social compact between society and our young people. The compact's central goal would be that by the time they reach their mid-20s, every young adult will be equipped with the education and experience he or she needs to lead a successful life as an adult. Achieving this goal would require far bigger contributions from the nation's employers and governments.

"We are the only developed nation that depends so exclusively on its higher education system as the sole institutional vehicle to help young people transition from secondary school to careers, and from adolescence to adulthood," says Robert Schwartz, academic dean and professor at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, who heads the Pathways to Prosperity Project. As the first president of Achieve, Schwartz has been a key supporter of the need to raise expectations and academic standards for all young people. But in recent years, Schwartz has become increasingly concerned about the "college for all" movement, especially as that movement has led states to allow the admissions requirements of four-year colleges and universities to become the default curriculum for all high school students. "Unless we are willing to provide more flexibility and choice in the last two years of high school, and more opportunities for students to pursue program options that link work and learning, we will continue to lose far too many young people along the path to graduation," he says.

"People don't realize how far behind other nations we have fallen. Some of the international comparisons in the report will truly shock people who assume that we lead the world in education and youth development," adds Pathways co-chair Ronald Ferguson, a senior lecturer in education and public policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kennedy School, and director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University. "Crafting a 21st century system that takes lessons from abroad but is tailored to the particulars of our own unique society will require our best effort. It can't be a superficial process and still succeed on the scale that we need it to."

The report notes that even as many young adults are failing to earn a post-secondary degree, they have also been hit far harder than older adults by unemployment in the Great Recession. Indeed, the percentage of teens and young adults who have jobs is now at its lowest level since the end of World War II. This has dire implications, because employment in the teen and young adult years can have such a positive impact on future prospects for employment and earnings.

The report was developed over two years of effort that included both research and working closely with partners interested the pathways challenge. An unusually wide range of organizations were involved in the project, including major corporations, leaders from K-12 and higher education, the non-profit community, and government. The project has also been involved in "on the ground" work in several different regions where it has collaborated with people and organizations eager to develop solutions to the challenge. So far, the Project has worked with partners in Silicon Valley, Illinois and Boston, as well as with leaders interested in developing more effective pathways to careers in health care.
You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/far-too-much-emphasis-on-single-pathway.html. Thanks!

Preschool beneficial, but should offer more, study finds


As more states consider universal preschool programs, a new study led by a Michigan State University scholar suggests that two years of pre-K is beneficial – although more time should be spent on teaching certain skills.

In the current issue of the Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Lori Skibbe and colleagues argue that pre-K programs generally do a good job of teaching literacy and that two years of preschool is better than one.

However, the researchers also recommend that preschool teachers focus more on vocabulary instruction and exercises that build self-control as part of a broader curriculum.

“In terms of kindergarten preparation, I believe preschool does a very good job in certain areas in promoting children’s skill sets,” said Skibbe, MSU assistant professor of child development. “But it might do a better job if there was also explicit attention directed at building children’s self-regulation and vocabulary skills.”

The researchers assessed the skills of a cohort of Michigan children attending the first and second years of preschool (generally, 3- and 4-year-olds). The study was one of the first to directly assess self-regulation in this age group.

The findings come amidst a brewing controversy over preschool. Many states are debating whether to offer preschool to all families and how many years children should attend – an important policy question in a time of tight budgets.

Some researchers argue that pre-K programs such as Head Start, a federally funded program for low-income families, offer no long-term benefits for children.

Skibbe disagrees. The study found that attending preschool was associated with gains in literacy skills – specifically, learning the letters of the alphabet and comprehending how they go together to form words.

Skibbe said she supports a preschool curriculum that combines a focused, “holistic approach” to all three elements – literacy, vocabulary and self-control.

“Children should be spending more time in preschool, not less, because the results appear to be cumulative,” she said. “Children who spent two years in preschool, for example, did better in literacy.”

You have read this article with the title February 2011. You can bookmark this page URL http://universosportinguista.blogspot.com/2011/02/preschool-beneficial-but-should-offer.html. Thanks!