Parents need an attitude adjustment to improve their children's homework motivation


Parents who want to improve their child's motivation to complete homework this school year need to change their own attitude and behavior, according to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers.

In the study published in Learning and Individual Differences, BGU researchers found that if parents had a more positive, supportive attitude and communicated the learning value as motivation, rather than focusing on completing an assignment or getting a higher grade, then the child's attitude and motivation would improve.

Dr. Idit Katz, Dr. Avi Kaplan and doctoral student Tamara Buzukashvily, of BGU's Department of Education, recommend parents give their children some choices, including when or where to do homework. "Parents can improve a sense of competence by allowing children to structure their own tasks and by giving the child the feeling that he is loved and admired no matter how successful he or she is in math or language," the researchers said.

The study also shows that parents should ask themselves about their own motivations, attitudes and competence before trying to "treat" or "change" the child. Moreover, educational programs that try to change the attitude and motivation of students toward homework should not keep the parents "out of the loop" as their behavior is essential.

"Little formal research has been conducted about the home environment where homework is taking place, although it has been an integral part of education and is a controversial yet often used educational practice," according to the study. "The home environment is just as important for instilling positive motivation as the school is."

The researchers conducted the study at two elementary schools with 135 fourth graders and one of each child's parents. The students completed questionnaires regarding their level of motivation to do homework, while parents answered another survey on their willingness to help. This allowed perceptions of the home environment to be examined from both perspectives.

Among the sample, more than 60 percent of parents reported being involved with their child's homework once a week and 35 percent indicated being involved every day or more than once a week. Only four percent said they are never involved in their child's homework.
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Awareness of ethnicity-based stigma found to start early


Students are stigmatized for a variety of reasons, with youths from ethnic-minority backgrounds often feeling devalued in school. New research on young children from a range of backgrounds has found that even elementary school children are aware of such stigmatization and, like older youths, feel more anxious about school as a result. Children who are stigmatized are more likely to have less interest in school, yet ethnic-minority children in this study reported high interest in school in the face of stigma. For some students, feeling close to people at school helps them maintain higher levels of interest in academics, despite the potentially negative effects of stigmatization.

The findings are from researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and New York University. They appear in the journal Child Development.

Researchers studied more than 450 second and fourth graders in New York City with ethnic-minority backgrounds (specifically, African American, Chinese, Dominican, and Russian) or ethnic-majority backgrounds (European American). The children were asked questions about their awareness of stigma, anxiety about school, interest in school, and feelings of belonging in school.

Differences in the young children's awareness of stigma were similar to differences among adults, with ethnic-minority children generally reporting more awareness than ethnic-majority children. There were few differences by grade, suggesting that even second graders are sensitive to ethnic attitudes in society.

Ethnic-minority children also reported higher academic anxiety, which the researchers attributed to their greater awareness of stigma.

But the study also found that some ethnic-minority students reported significantly higher interest in school than their ethnic-majority peers, despite past research showing that awareness of stigmatization is associated with lower interest in school. For Dominican children in particular, this seemingly paradoxical finding was explained, in part, by their feelings about belonging: For these youngsters, feeling close connections to people at school accounted for their high levels of interest in school, despite their awareness of stigma.

The study has implications for intervention efforts, suggest the researchers. Programs aimed at decreasing students' perceptions of group stigma (such as community role models) could help keep students' academic anxiety in check. And school-based interventions that foster close connections among individuals at school may help students stay interested in learning.
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Anxiety interferes with some fifth graders capacity to form friendships


As children move toward adolescence, they rely increasingly on close relationships with peers. Socially withdrawn children, who have less contact with peers, may miss out on the support that friendships provide. In a new study about the peer relationships of almost 2,500 fifth graders who are socially withdrawn in different ways and those who aren't withdrawn, researchers have found that withdrawn children who can be described as "anxious-solitary" differ considerably in their relationships with peers, compared to other withdrawn children and children who aren't withdrawn.

The study was conducted by researchers at Arizona State University as part of the Pathways Project, a larger longitudinal investigation of children's social, psychological, and scholastic adjustment in school that is supported by the National Institutes of Health. It appears in the journal Child Development.

Socially withdrawn children who are classified as anxious-solitary are believed to experience competing motivations—they want to interact with peers, but the prospect of doing so causes anxiety that interferes with such interactions. In contrast, unsociable children are seen as having what's called low approach and low avoidance motives—that is, they have little desire to interact with peers but aren't repelled by the prospect of doing so; for these children, the overtures of peers don't make them feel anxious.

To learn more about students' classroom behavior, emotions, and relations with peers, researchers collected students' reports in which they nominated or rated their peers on a number of criteria (such as withdrawn behavior, aggressive behavior, prosocial behavior, and emotional sensitivity); teachers also reported on the same criteria. Reports were collected toward the beginning of the academic year and then again toward the end of the academic year. Using these reports, researchers classified students as anxious-solitary withdrawn, unsociable withdrawn, or non-withdrawn.

Compared with unsociable withdrawn youths and those who aren't withdrawn, anxious-solitary children were found to be more emotionally sensitive and more likely to be excluded and victimized by their peers. They're also less likely to have friends, and when they do have friends, to have fewer than their peers and to lose friendships over time.

The researchers suggest that peer interaction is harder for anxious-solitary children because their anxiety interferes with their ability to form and maintain friendships. In contrast, unsociable youths tend to have more friends and to maintain those ties over time.

The study also found that having stable friendships protects children from being victimized by peers—and that both withdrawn and non-withdrawn children benefit from friendships in this way.

"Understanding withdrawn children's friendships is important because they have fewer contacts with children their own age," according to Gary Ladd, Cowden Distinguished Professor of Family and Human Development at Arizona State University, who led the study. "Because the consequences of peer isolation can be severe, it may be particularly important for withdrawn youth to develop and participate in friendships through organized sports, play dates, and other such activities."

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Second and third graders who are bullied react in a variety of ways


Youths' social goals help determine response to bullying

Second and third graders who are bullied react in a variety of ways—from discussing the problem or striking back to seeking emotional support. A new study in the journal Child Development has found that the types of goals children set in their relationships help determine how they respond to being bullied—and whether they choose responses that are effective.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

"Bullying has become a significant focus of media attention and public health concern," according to Karen D. Rudolph, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who led the study. "Although a primary focus of interventions is to eradicate bullying in the schools, it's also important to help children cope with peer aggression in ways that resolve rather than exacerbate the situation.

"This research highlights the importance of educational efforts to shift children's priorities away from focusing on being 'popular' or 'cool' and toward developing skills and relationships," notes Rudolph. "Achieving this goal can promote constructive coping strategies, ultimately reducing bullying and lessening its long-term impact on children's social and mental health."

The researchers surveyed more than 370 children across the two grades as well as their teachers. Children and teachers filled out surveys on how children typically respond to classmates' aggression. Children also reported on how often they were bullied (from mild attacks such as verbal insults and teasing to more severe bullying, including exclusion and physical assault).

In addition, the children reported on their social goals; those fell into three categories—1) efforts to acquire social skills and develop high-quality relationships, like learning how to be a good friend; 2) efforts to gain positive social judgments and prestige, such as having "cool" friends; and 3) efforts to minimize negative social judgments, such as avoiding being viewed as a "loser."

Children who worked to acquire social skills and develop solid relationships, the study found, were more likely to engage in thoughtful and constructive responses to bullying that were aimed at addressing or learning from the situation and managing their emotions. These children were less likely to become emotionally upset than their peers.

Children who sought to be cool tended to disengage from the situation by denying that it had happened or doing nothing, rather than trying to solve the problem at hand. These children were more likely to retaliate against the bullies.

And children whose goals were to avoid being seen as uncool or "losers" were more likely to ignore bullies and less likely to retaliate, perhaps in an effort to pacify the bullies and deflect attention from themselves. These children and those who sought to be cool were less effective in their responses to bullies than the children who managed their emotions and tried to learn from the situation.

"Our findings suggest that by working to develop social competence and relationships, children orient themselves toward efforts to solve problems with their peers, handle their emotions, and think positively when relationships go awry," according to Rudolph.

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The Great Recession could reduce school achievement for children of unemployed


The Great Recession could have lingering impacts on the children of the unemployed, according to researchers at the University of Chicago.

"There is growing evidence that parental job loss has adverse consequences on children's behavior, academic achievement and later employment outcomes, particularly in economically disadvantaged families," said Heather Hill, assistant professor in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. The material hardship and stress associated with unemployment appears to reduce the quality of the home environment and adversely affect children, Hill and other UChicago researchers have found.

The families that Hill studied were largely low-income. She found that, among young children, a maternal job loss is associated with increasing children's problem behavior in the classroom by more than 40 percent.

She based her work on data collected from single mothers encouraged to go back to work during the welfare reforms of the 1990s. Many of the mothers in the study found work relatively quickly, but subsequently experienced one or more job losses followed by extended periods of unemployment.

Psychological and sociological theories suggest that besides reducing money available to provide for the needs of children, frequent and sustained joblessness could disrupt children's lives by leading to volatile child care arrangements and additional stress at home.

Prior studies suggest that disruptions in child care lead to lower cognitive development and increased behavior problems. Parental stress and depression "can lead to less nurturing and harsher parenting," Hill said.

Parental unemployment can lead to problems for children regardless of the family's income status, however, said Ariel Kalil, professor in the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Studies.

Kalil studies the impact of parental job loss and unemployment on children and is undertaking new studies focused on the current recession. She found in previous studies of two-parent families that a paternal job loss impacted the welfare of children more significantly than a maternal loss.

Children were 1.6 times more likely to repeat a grade if their father lost a job. Among older children, a father's job loss was associated with more suspensions and disruptions.

"It was not a matter of income only," she said. "Even in families in which the mother earned more money than the father, children were not affected as greatly when she lost a job than were the children in families in which the father lost a job," Kalil said.

The impact of job loss is different for men: "Men's identity is more closely linked to their jobs, and they are less accustomed to performing the household and child care tasks that women are," Kalil explained. Women may be more effective being at home with their children during a period of unemployment.
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The Applicability and Importance of the Common Core State Standards to College and Career Readiness


Reaching the Goal: The Applicability and Importance of the Common Core State Standards to College and Career Readiness

Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC)
has released the above study on the Common Core State Standards. For the study, researchers asked a national sample of entry-level college instructors to rate the applicability and importance of each Common Core State Standard in comparison to their courses. The study analyzes ratings from instructors of courses at two- and four-year degree-granting institutions, including courses commonly required for two-year certificates that would be necessary to enter a career pathway. EPIC selected 25 courses to be representative examples of common offerings in seven major subject areas: English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Business Management, Computer Technology, and Healthcare.

For the ELA and literacy standards, applicability ratings for non-literary reading and writing standards were very high, particularly when results from the English language arts strands of Reading for Informational Texts and Writing are combined with results from the literacy, subject-specific versions of these same strands. With few exceptions, a large percent of instructors across all content areas rated the Speaking and Listening strand and Language strand as applicable. Given the broad applicability of these standards to a wide range of postsecondary courses, the Speaking and Listening standards seem particularly important to teach and assess at the classroom level and to be included in some form by the two consortia of states working on common assessments of the Common Core standards.

For the mathematics standards, the applicability ratings varied according to the categories included in the standards. For example, the Standards for Mathematical Practice were relevant to a large majority of the sample, whereas Functions and Geometry were applicable to a relatively small percentage of the sample.

For a majority of instructors in almost all content areas rated the Mathematical Practices as applicable.

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School support for ADHD children may be missing the mark


Inattention, not hyperactivity, is associated with educational failure

New research from the University of Montreal shows that inattention, rather than hyperactivity, is the most important indicator when it comes to finishing a high school education. "Children with attention problems need preventative intervention early in their development," explained lead author Dr. Jean-Baptiste Pingault, who is also affiliated with Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital. The researchers came to their conclusion after looking at data collected from the parents and teachers of 2000 children over a period of almost twenty years.

In this study, attention problems were evaluated by teachers who looked for behaviour such as an inability to concentrate, absentmindedness, or a tendency to give up or be easily distracted. Hyperactivity was identified by behaviour such as restlessness, running around, squirming and being fidgety. The researchers found that only 29% of children with attention problems finished high school compared to 89% of children who did not manifest these inattention problems. When it came to hyperactivity, the difference was smaller: 40% versus 77%. After correcting the data for other influencing factors, such as socioeconomic status and health issues that are correlated with ADHD, inattention still made a highly significant contribution which was not the case for hyperactivity.

"In the school system, children who have attention difficulties are often forgotten because, unlike hyperactive kids, they don't disturb the class," said Dr. Sylvana Côte, who led the study. "However, we know that we can train children to pay attention through appropriate activities, and that can help encourage success at school."

The results of the study have been published as mental health experts have begun to debate whether or not it would be appropriate to separate hyperactivity and inattention problems in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). "These two health issues have now been more precisely dissected, and we may now need to define a differentiated type of inattention that is independent from hyperactivity, to improve our understanding of the phenomenon and better tailor interventions," Pingault said.
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Child-care facilities can do more to promote healthy eating and physical activity among preschoolers


Eating and physical activity habits for a lifetime can develop at an early age. As the use of preschool child care increases and the prevalence of childhood obesity is at an all-time high, the opportunity to positively impact eating and exercise habits within this setting presents itself. A review in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association describes and evaluates research addressing opportunities and strategies for the prevention of obesity among preschool children in child-care settings. It examines the current status of state regulations, practices and policies, and interventions for promoting healthy eating and physical activity.

"Early prevention is considered to be the most promising strategy for reducing obesity and the many serious health conditions that may result as a consequence of excessive weight gain in childhood," commented lead author Nicole Larson, PhD, MPH, RD, Research Associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. "Eating and activity behaviors formed during the preschool years have the potential to prevent obesity in the short term, and if carried into adulthood, to set the stage for a lifetime of better health. The majority of U.S. parents depend on child-care providers to support the development of healthful behaviors by providing their young children with nutritious foods and regular physical activity…Significant improvements in the eating and activity behaviors of preschool children will likely depend on the combined strength of interventions and supportive policy changes."

Conducting a comprehensive review of the research literature, investigators from the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, the Gillings School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Duke University Medical Center identified and assessed 42 relevant studies that can serve as baselines against which future progress may be measured. These included 4 reviews of state regulations, 18 studies of child-care practices and policies that may influence eating or physical activity behaviors, 2 studies of parental perceptions and practices relevant to obesity prevention, and 18 evaluated interventions. Although research focused on the U.S., interventions implemented in international settings were also included. The review of existing evidence was funded by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Child-care facilities in the U.S. are primarily regulated by individual states. Each state establishes its own set of regulations for licensed child-care facilities and sets minimum enforcement standards to assess compliance. However, recent reviews indicated there is a gap between existing state regulations for child-care settings and the standards recommended by public health experts. Most states lacked strong regulations related to healthy eating and physical activity. There was strong variation among states in promoting 8 key nutrition and physical activity measures in child-care settings. For example, while Tennessee covered 6 of the 8 factors, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Nebraska and Washington had none.

Larson added: "These reviews identified a number of opportunities for enhancing state regulations by comparing existing regulations with relevant national standards and recommendations from professional groups, including the American Dietetic Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Public Health Association."

Recent assessments of child-care settings identified through this study indicated room for improvement to the nutritional quality of foods provided to children, the amount of time children are engaged in physical activity, caregiver behaviors that may discourage healthy behaviors, and missed opportunities for education. While a limited number of interventions have been designed to address these concerns, only 2 interventions showed evidence of success in reducing risk for obesity among child participants.

In an accompanying commentary, Margaret Briley. PhD, RD, LD, and Michael McAllaster, both of the Department of Nutritional Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, discuss some of the nutritional guidelines available to the child-care provider. They note that child-care centers receiving funding from the Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) must follow CACFP guidelines for healthy foods and snacks, but that those guidelines may differ from recommendations from professional associations such as the American Pediatric Association or the American Dietetic Association. Nevertheless, they recognize that the child-care setting can play an important role in encouraging healthy eating habits.

According to Briley and McAllaster, "In the past 3 decades, child-care centers have replaced the family table as the learning environment for young children's food habits….America is facing the reality that many children younger than 5 years can be classified as obese or overweight. Research has found that one in three children under 5 in low income families is obese or overweight. The greatest impact on obesity can be made among this population and assure that the next generations have eating and exercise habits that support a life of good health as well as reduced medical costs. Parents must become advocates for their children's food intake and support policy changes that strengthen nutrition programs that will enable all children to eat nutritious meals and snacks that support a lifetime of good health."
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Lack of Free Play Among Children is Causing Harm


Hovering helicopter parents who restrict their kids’ unstructured play may actually harm, rather than help, children according to the latest issue of the American Journal of Play, a scholarly journal which has gathered a distinguished group of experts to probe the near-extinction of free play and its effects on children and society.

“Remarkably, over the last 50 years, opportunities for children to play freely have declined continuously and dramatically in the United States and other developed nations; and that decline continues, with serious negative consequences for children’s physical, mental, and social development,” said Guest Editor Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College. “This special issue of the American Journal of Play reviews the evidence for the crucial roles of play in children’s development and proposes ways we may create a world in which play—especially free outdoor play with other children—is once again a normative part of childhood.”

Included in this issue are two articles by Gray, one presenting research that shows a correlation between the decline of free play and the rise of depression, suicide and narcissism in children and teens, and the other highlighting the importance of age-mixed play.

“The Decline of Play and the Rise of Psychopathology in Children and Adults”: Gray presents a review of research showing a correlation between the decline of free play in developed nations and the rise of depression, suicide, feelings of helplessness, and narcissism in children, teens, and young adults.

“The Special Value of Children’s Age-Mixed Play” : Gray notes that the modern segregation of kids into same-age groups, common in today’s classrooms and school yards, may not be optimal for child development. He says that during age-mixed play, older, more skilled participants “provide scaffolds that raise the level of the younger participants’ play” and stretch their abilities to higher levels. He cites other studies in which older children were observed exposing younger children to more complex concepts of literacy, math, and sociability. By interacting with younger children, older students develop increased capacities to nurture, lead, and learn by teaching.

Other highlights in the journal are:

“Why Parents Should Stop Overprotecting Kids and Let them Play”, an interview with Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children, and Hara Estroff Marano, former Psychology Today editor in chief and author of A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting : Skenazy and Marano point accusing fingers at over-protective parents, over-organized sports, overblown media hype about stranger danger, and the allure of electronic games and social media, which have combined to decrease the amount of free play among today’s children. Without free outdoor play, they say, kids are prone to obesity, poor physical health, and an inability to develop social skills.

“Evolutionary Functions of Social Play: Life Histories, Sex Differences, and Emotional Regulation” by Peter LaFreniere, Professor of Psychology at the University of Maine: LaFreniere reviews research about free play from an evolutionary biologist perspective and asserts that evolved patterns of play help children develop strong bones and muscles, promote cardiovascular fitness, and help hone skills of communication, perspective taking, and emotion regulation.

“Marbles and Machiavelli: The Role of Game Play in Children’s Social Development” by David F. Lancy, Professor of Anthropology at Utah State University, and M. Annette Grove: The authors review several case studies of children engaged in rule-governed play and conclude that the process of learning rules—and of breaking them and making new ones—promotes gamesmanship, which is theoretically linked to the evolution of human intelligence.

The American Journal of Play, an interdisciplinary scholarly journal devoted solely to the study of play, is published by The Strong in Rochester, New York. The journal is available free online at

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Grade Inflation for Education Majors and Low Standards for Teachers


Complete report

Students who take education classes at universities receive significantly higher grades than students who take classes in every other academic discipline. The higher grades cannot be explained by observable differences in student quality between education majors and other students, nor can they be explained by the fact that education classes are typically smaller than classes in other academic departments. The remaining reasonable explanation is that the higher grades in education classes are the result of low grading standards. These low grading standards likely will negatively affect the accumulation of skills for prospective teachers during university training. More generally, they contribute to a larger culture of low standards for educators.

Key points:

- Grades awarded in university education departments are consistently higher than grades in other disciplines.

- Similarly, teachers in K-12 schools receive overwhelmingly positive evaluations.

- Grade inflation in education departments should be addressed through administrative directives or external accountability in K-12 schools.

A 2009 report from the New Teacher Project shows that teachers in K-12 schools receive overwhelmingly positive performance evaluations. The report has brought much-needed attention to the low evaluation standards for K-12 teachers. This Outlook examines the standards by which prospective teachers are evaluated during university training. Grading standards in education departments at universities, where much of the teaching workforce is trained, are also strikingly low. In addition to documenting the low grading standards in education departments, the author considers some of the likely consequences and discuss possible solutions
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Building Better (Physical) Schools in a Budget Crunch


Today's economic downturn has forced school leaders to cut budgets for after-school activities, classroom equipment, and staff, all in an era of increasing academic expectations. Spending on school facilities, in particular, has been relegated to the bottom of priority lists. Yet outmoded facilities cost much more than expected and represent an immense opportunity for reform and savings.

In "Facilities Financing: Monetizing Education's Untapped Resource" finance specialist and education real estate expert Himanshu Kothari explores the causes of the country's $300 billion funding shortfall in K-12 facilities and offers concrete recommendations to address this troubling trend. Kothari posits that public-private partnerships are a promising avenue for tapping the resources necessary to address capital needs. Because current financial conditions in K-12 scare off potential investors, he suggests that policymakers make private investments in school facilities more appealing by being innovative and overhauling facilities financing.
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Ohio Report Card Analysis


Full report

Each year, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute conducts an analysis of urban school performance in the Buckeye State—targeting the “Big Eight” districts: Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown. This year, there is some good news to report. For example, the percentage of students in these cities attending a school that has met or exceeded “expected growth” (according to Ohio’s value-added metric) has risen significantly, from 67 percent in 2009-10 to 78 percent in 2010-11.

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2011 Classroom School Uniform Survey


Key Findings from the report:

School uniforms are still relevant. School uniforms programs remain important, increasingly so with suburban area school districts who generated more opinions this year than those in urban and rural areas.

What a student wears to school affects their educational experience
. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of the respondents agreed that what a student wears to school affects their educational experience.

Bullying is the most prevalent issue all districts are facing. As noted in the news, survey participants with standardized dress programs stated their districts was currently working to improve bullying (85%), parent involvement (80%), AYP Target Achievement (75%), discipline (75%) and attendance (63%) in their districts. Respondents with districts not in school uniforms agreed that bullying (76%), AYP Target Achievement (70%), parent involvement (64%) and attendance (60%) were the top issues which needed to be addressed.

While bullying had been a top issue in the past, it has risen to being the most important issue being tackled across the board. School uniform discussions with mandatory policies are on the rise. The number of schools board members with school uniform programs in place who participated in the survey have decreased but more members stated that discussions were taking place in their districts. Of those with school uniforms, the trend continues to show that more districts have mandatory policies rather than voluntary ones and that a majority of the respondents with programs have been utilizing such programs for more than five years.

More middle school and high school students are wearing uniforms
. There are more and more school uniform and standardized dress code programs in secondary and high schools than ever before. Years ago, districts were starting their programs on the elementary school level, but now respondents are providing data for secondary and high schools as well.

Schools are seeing quantitative data improvements in their programs. Respondents with school uniform programs continued to see quantitative improvements in their attendance rates, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) scores, gang influence data with school uniforms.

School uniforms are still more cost effective than general apparel.
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of respondents felt parents find school uniforms more cost effective, where another thirty-one percent (31%) was not sure. In 2010, fifty-four percent (54%) felt uniforms were a money saver where thirty-nine percent (39%) were not sure. It is unclear if the state of the US economy or an increase in the number of programs has led to this finding.

The basics still matter.
Price, availability in local stores, size, fit and comfort and fit are still seen as important drivers when choosing what uniform features are important, but products “Made in the USA” seem to be less important as in years past. When evaluating what school uniform clothing features are important to its families, respondents stated price (65%), availability in local stores (64%), availability of sizes (50%) and comfort and fit (48%) were cited as the most important factors.

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School-based mental health screening for teens results in connection to care


A new study involving nearly 2,500 high school students demonstrates the value of routine mental health screening in school to identify adolescents at-risk for mental illness, and to connect those adolescents with recommended follow-up care. The largest school-based study conducted to-date by the TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University, findings are published in the Sept. 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Conducted between 2005 and 2009 at six public high schools in suburban Wisconsin, results found that nearly three out of four high school students identified as being at-risk for having a mental health problem were not in treatment at the time of screening. Of those students identified as at-risk, a significant majority (76.3 percent) completed at least one visit with a mental health provider within 90 days of screening. More than half (56.3 percent) received minimally adequate treatment, defined as having three or more visits with a provider, or any number of visits if termination was agreed to by the provider.

"It is gratifying to have further evidence that TeenScreen successfully connects at-risk adolescents with mental health care," said Laurie Flynn, TeenScreen's executive director.

"The value of school-based screening is reinforced by this study and highlights TeenScreen's unique ability to help teens whose mental health problems would otherwise go unidentified," said Leslie McGuire, MSW, TeenScreen's deputy executive director, and an author of the paper.

Students in the study were screened using a computerized evidence-based questionnaire provided at no-cost by TeenScreen: the Diagnostic Predictive Scales-8, a self-report questionnaire that takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and is designed to identity depression, anxiety and several other mental health conditions. After the screening, each student received a one-on-one debriefing. Those who scored positive were asked to stay for a second-stage clinical interview with a trained master's level clinician, who provided further evaluation for possible referral to either school-based or community-based services.

Adolescence is an important window for intervention because 50 percent of all lifetime mental health disorders start by age 14, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Untreated depression and other mental health problems can lead to school failure, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and criminal involvement. Most tragically, untreated mental illness can lead to suicide – the third leading cause of death among adolescents. Research has shown that most young people with mental illness can be effectively treated and lead productive lives.

The TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University is a non-profit public health initiative and national policy and resource center devoted to increasing youth access to regular mental health checkups. The TeenScreen National Center is affiliated with the Columbia University Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Launched nearly 10 years ago, today there are more than 2,300 TeenScreen sites in 46 states nationwide, through the TeenScreen Primary Care and TeenScreen Schools and Communities programs. As a pioneering force in the early identification of mental illness in teens, TeenScreen has been recognized as a national model and is listed in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices and the Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention. To learn more about TeenScreen, please visit
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Bullying and intergroup conflicts in Philadelphia's public schools




In January 2010, after the violent incidents at South Philadelphia High School against Asian immigrant students, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations began a series of public hearings as part of our unique mandate to address intergroup conflicts based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, marital status, and source of income. We heard from 130 witnesses—parents, teachers, students, principals, and others—about their experiences with intergroup conflicts in Philadelphia's public schools. The Commission received an additional 40 written statements.

The Commission came to understand that intergroup conflicts cover a broad range of unfair, disrespectful, and aggressive behavior that can cause emotional and physical harm and negatively impact students' ability to learn. We also learned that such conflicts are a system-wide problem in the School District of Philadelphia. Testimony revealed that too often the District is not doing enough to prevent and resolve such conflicts and that inadequate language access – a legal right – is exacerbating the situation. In addition, effective and positive strategies like peer mediation, positive behavioral support, and restorative justice are not adequately utilized or uniformly implemented.

Yet students also spoke of positive, dynamic efforts that they engage in, with the assistance of supportive adults, to peacefully resolve conflict. We heard about schools where educators and staff actively build bridges and teach respectful behavior by example. We saw models of community-based programs that allow young people from different backgrounds to relate to each other through shared interests.

Despite these positive efforts, the widespread presence of unresolved intergroup conflicts remains. But it is the Commission's fervent hope that this report will act as a catalyst to encourage the District to make resolving, tracking, and preventing intergroup conflicts a high priority. It is essential that the District build a climate of respect and tolerance across the City's schools so as to widen the circle of our concern to include all of the diverse young people of Philadelphia.
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Are Charter Schools Draining Private School Enrollment?


Rajashri Chakrabarti, Joydeep Roy, and Elizabeth Setren*

Charter schools are a major policy initiative at the national and local levels. As charter schools spread, one key question is whether they reduce private school enrollment, especially at Catholic schools. If so, an increase in charters could change public school spending patterns, decrease the number or size of private schools, and alter educational outcomes and school quality for public and private school students. But is this really the case? Maybe not. In this post, based on our 2010 New York Fed staff report, we find that despite widespread fears to the contrary, the expansion of charter schools in Michigan led to only a small decline in private school enrollment.

    Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are exempt from many of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some accountability requirements that are set forth in each school’s charter. Since the first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1991, the schools have expanded rapidly. There are now more than 5,000 charter schools throughout forty U.S. states and the District of Columbia. From 1999 to 2010, enrollment in charters across the nation more than quadrupled and now totals more than 1.5 million students.

    There is a general impression that charter schools have negatively affected private school enrollment, especially in Catholic schools. Our staff report analyzes whether the introduction of charters in Michigan drained students from local private schools. In December 1993, Michigan adopted one of the strongest charter school laws in the nation, and the first charter school in the state opened in the 1995-96 school year. We use Michigan private school data from the 1989-90 to 2001-02 school years and Michigan charter school data from the 1995-96 to 2001-02 school years. Enrollment information from before the charter law was adopted is used to control for preexisting trends in private school enrollment. And we use data from the years after the charter schools opened to determine if their impact increases or decreases as they age. Our focus is on elementary schools because charter schools mostly cater to elementary grades.

    We find that while charter schools led to a fall in private school enrollment, the decline was modest. We also find that with the passage of time, as the charter sector matures its effect on private schools increases. Having a charter school within a two-mile radius decreases private school enrollment by about 1.2 percent per year. An increase in charter enrollment by one student within the same radius decreases private school enrollment by 0.01 percent per year. A private elementary school in Michigan had an average enrollment of 156 students during the period. Furthermore, there is no evidence that Catholic schools lost more students to charter schools than did secular private schools.

    Thus, our paper’s findings suggest that charter schools did not lead to a major crowding out of private school enrollment in Michigan. Instead, charters led to only a small decline in private school enrollment. These findings are very robust and survive a variety of sensitivity tests.

    It is interesting to consider why charters do not drain private school enrollment, even though many observers assert that they do. Several factors could explain this outcome. The modest impact could be a function of charter school quality. In a study of Michigan charter schools, Eric Bettinger finds that test scores of public school students who moved to charter schools did not improve compared with the scores of their public school counterparts. If parents did not perceive charter schools as a better option than public schools, they would not move their kids from private to charter schools. If the perceived quality of Michigan charters, relative to public schools, is lower than that of other states, there might be more evidence of students transferring from private to charter schools outside of Michigan.

    Additionally, unlike in our study, enrollment levels in charter and private schools, often reported in the popular press, do not reflect causal trends. These numbers might be impacted by preexisting trends in private enrollment, regular mobility of students between schools, and state- or district-wide policies or events. Furthermore, the location of charter schools is not random. Charter schools are likely to be established in towns where parents are dissatisfied with the private and public school options. These factors are not accounted for when we simply look at the raw enrollment numbers. Rather, we need a causal analysis that accounts for these factors, as was done in our study.

    Similarly, the decline in Catholic parochial school enrollment in areas near charter schools often reported in the media does not necessarily imply that charters caused the change. The decline could be part of a larger trend and not due solely to the presence of charter schools. It could also be the result of recent tuition increases in Catholic schools or other changes relating to Catholic schools.

    In summary, our staff report shows that charter schools in Michigan have led to only a modest decline in private school enrollment in the state. Moreover, they have not affected Catholic school enrollment more adversely. These findings may dispel some concerns about the impact of charter schools on public school spending and the health of local private, especially Catholic, schools.

*Joydeep Roy is a senior economist at the Independent Budget Office and a visiting professor of economics and education at Columbia University; Elizabeth Setren is a research associate in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

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Growth Over Time of the Receptive Vocabulary and Math Performance of Children Who Received Preschool Special Education Services


A new report shows the annual growth in receptive vocabulary and math performance of children who received preschool special education services

The report, A Longitudinal View of the Receptive Vocabulary and Math Achievement of Young Children with Disabilities, was released by the National Center for Special Education Research within the Institute of Education Sciences. The study uses data from the Pre-Elementary Education Longitudinal Study to describe how children who received preschool special education services perform over time on assessments of receptive vocabulary and math skills. It also describes how their receptive vocabulary and math performance vary over time by primary disability category.

The selected findings include:

• As a group, growth on measures of receptive vocabulary and math skills of children who received preschool special education services decelerated, or slowed down, as the children got older.

• At age 3, children with a speech or language impairment had a significantly higher mean on the receptive vocabulary measure than children with a developmental delay, and this gap persisted at age 10.

• At age 3, the children with a speech or language impairment had significantly higher mean scores on the math skills measure than children with autism or a developmental delay. The gap between scores for children with speech or language impairments and children with a developmental delay persisted at age 10. However, children with autism caught up to children with a speech or language impairment by age 10.
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Learning information the hard way may be best 'boot camp' for older brains


Making mistakes while learning has memory benefits

Canadian researchers have found the first evidence that older brains get more benefit than younger brains from learning information the hard way – via trial-and-error learning.

The study was led by scientists at Baycrest's world-renowned Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and appears online Aug. 24, 2011 in the journal Psychology and Aging, ahead of the print edition.

The finding will surprise professional educators and cognitive rehabilitation clinicians as it challenges a large body of published science which has shown that making mistakes while learning information hurts memory performance for older adults, and that passive "errorless" learning (where the correct answer is provided) is better suited to older brains.

"The scientific literature has traditionally embraced errorless learning for older adults. However, our study has shown that if older adults are learning material that is very conceptual, where they can make a meaningful relationship between their errors and the correct information that they are supposed to remember, in those cases the errors can actually be quite beneficial for the learning process," said Andreé-Ann Cyr, the study's lead investigator.

Cyr conducted the research at Baycrest as a doctoral student in Psychology (University of Toronto), in collaboration with senior author and scientist Dr. Nicole Anderson of Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute. Dr. Anderson specializes in cognitive rehabilitation research with older adults.

In two separate studies, researchers compared the memory benefits of trial-and-error learning (TEL) with errorless learning (EL) in memory exercises with groups of healthy young and older adults. The young adults were in their 20s; the older adults' average age was 70. TEL is considered a more effortful cognitive encoding process where the brain has to "scaffold" its way to making richer associations and linkages in order to reach the correct target information. Errorless learning (EL) is considered passive, or less taxing on the brain, because it provides the correct answer to be remembered during the learning process.

The researchers presented participants with a meaningful "cue" (e.g. type of tooth). The correct target word (e.g. molar) was shown to learners in the EL condition. In the TEL condition, the cue was presented alone, and participants made two guesses (such as canine, incisor) before the correct target "molar" was shown. After a short while, participants performed a memory test that required them to remember the context in which the words were learned (i.e. were they learned through trial-and-error or not).

In both studies, participants remembered the learning context of the target words better if they had been learned through trial-and-error, relative to the errorless condition. This was especially true for the older adults whose performance benefited approximately 2.5 times more relative to their younger peers.

The findings from the Baycrest study may have important implications for how information is taught to older adults in the classroom, and for rehabilitation procedures aimed at delaying cognitive decline – procedures which rely on knowledge of how to train an aging brain, said Cyr.

The authors say future studies are needed to determine how different study materials and memory tasks impact the effect of errors on memory in aging. This will help to clarify the learning contexts in which errors should be avoided or harnessed.
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$4.5 Billion in Earnings, Taxes Lost Last Year Due to the High U.S. College Dropout Rate

New Study Reveals the Annual Costs of Dropouts from One Freshman Class – Both to Themselves and Society

Washington, D.C. – As students across the country prepare to start their freshman year of college, more than 40 percent of them will not graduate within six years – costing billions of dollars in lost earnings for the students and millions of dollars in lost tax revenue, according to a new analysis by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

AIR conducted a study that examined the more than 1.1 million full-time students who entered college in 2002 seeking bachelor degrees. Of that total, almost 500,000 did not graduate within six years – costing a combined $4.5 billion in lost income and lost federal and state income taxes.

The AIR analysis found that the 493,000 students who started college in 2002 but did not earn a degree within six years lost a total of approximately $3.8 billion in income in 2010 alone. The lost income would have generated $566 million in federal income tax revenue, while states would have collected more than $164 million in state income taxes.

“These findings represent just one year and one graduating class. Therefore, the overall costs of low graduation rates are much higher since these losses accumulate year after year,” explained Mark Schneider, a vice president at AIR who co-authored the report, The High Cost of Low Graduation Rates: How Much Does Dropping Out of College Really Cost?, with Lu (Michelle) Yin. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. While this report focuses on only one cohort of students, losses of this magnitude are incurred annually by each and every graduating class.”

The Obama Administration and the nation’s governors are seeking to encourage more students to earn college degrees because of the importance to the nation’s economic future of having a highly skilled workforce that can compete in the global economy. The AIR report looks at some of the financial implications of the efforts to have the United States once again have the highest concentration of college and university degrees.

“Students who start college and don’t graduate incur large personal expenses. They have paid tuition, they have taken out loans, they have changed their lives and they have failed in one of the biggest goals they have ever set for themselves,” said Schneider.

“Taxpayers have paid billions of dollars in subsidies to support these students as they pursue degrees they will never earn, and as a nation, we incur billions in lost earnings and lost income taxes each year.”

According to the U.S Bureau of the Census, young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 with a college degree, working year round, earn around 40 percent more than someone with some college who has not completed a degree and around two-thirds more than someone with just a high school degree. The life time earnings of a college graduate can exceed those of a high school graduate by as much as a half million dollars.

“Given these higher earnings, many governors are looking at a more educated population as a way of dealing with the growing fiscal crisis they face,” said Schneider. “Most states have state income taxes and they benefit directly from the higher incomes earned by college graduates.”

To generate these estimates, AIR researchers used data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Census reports of income levels, the 2010 federal tax rate schedule, and information from the Tax Foundation for the state income tax rates.

Some states are losing substantial sums of revenue because of the large number of dropouts from their colleges and universities. There are 14 states in which the income losses from this single group of dropouts exceed $100 million annually – ranging from California, with $386 million in lost income, and New York with close to $360 million, to Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina and New Jersey, all losing between $100 and $107 million in earnings. See Table: States Losing More Than $100 Million in Income and $15 Million in Federal Income Taxes, and Their Losses in State Income Tax in 2010.

Federal income tax losses parallel these numbers: with losses in federal income taxes exceeding $50 million per year in California, New York and Texas and more than $15 million in losses from Massachusetts, North Carolina, and New Jersey. See Table: 2010 Income and Tax Losses by State for Dropouts Who Entered College in 2002.

The following provides a breakdown by state of the amount of income that was lost and the federal and state income tax revenue that those higher earnings would have generated.

The full report, and a breakdown of the financial implications of dropouts at each college campus, is available at Detailed data and tools to compare income and tax losses across states are online: The website,, is a joint endeavor by AIR and Matrix Knowledge Group to help improve outcomes and performance among higher education institutions.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit


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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder among Children Aged 5-17 Years in the United States, 1998-2009

PDF Version (428 KB)

Lara J. Akinbami, M.D.; Xiang Liu, M.Sc.; Patricia N. Pastor, Ph.D.; and Cynthia A. Reuben, M.A.


Key findings

Data from the National Health Interview Survey, 1998–2009

  • The percentage of children ever diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increased from 7% to 9% from 1998–2000 through 2007–2009.

  • ADHD prevalence trends varied by race and ethnicity. Differences between groups narrowed from 1998 through 2009; however, Mexican children had consistently lower ADHD prevalence than other racial or ethnic groups.

  • From 1998 through 2009, ADHD prevalence increased to 10% for children with family income less than 100% of the poverty level and to 11% for those with family income between 100% and 199% of the poverty level.

  • From 1998 through 2009, ADHD prevalence rose to 10% in the Midwest and South regions of the United States.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health disorders of childhood (1). The symptoms of ADHD (inattention, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity) begin in childhood and often persist into adulthood. These symptoms frequently lead to functional impairment in academic, family, and social settings (2,3). The causes and risk factors for ADHD are unknown, but genetic factors likely play a role (4). Diagnosis of ADHD involves several steps, including a medical exam; a checklist for rating ADHD symptoms based on reports from parents, teachers, and sometimes the child; and an evaluation for coexisting conditions (5). Recent national surveys have documented an increase in the prevalence of ADHD during the past decade (6,7). This report presents recent trends in prevalence and differences between population subgroups of children aged 5–17 years.

Keywords: race, ethnicity, poverty status, National Health Interview Survey


The percentage of children ever diagnosed with ADHD increased from 1998 through 2009 among both boys and girls.

  • For the 2007–2009 period, an annual average of 9.0% of children aged 5–17 years had ever been diagnosed with ADHD—an increase from 6.9% in 1998–2000 (Figure 1).

  • From 1998 through 2009, ADHD prevalence was higher among boys than girls: For boys, ADHD prevalence increased from 9.9% in 1998–2000 to 12.3% in 2007–2009, and for girls, from 3.6% to 5.5% during the same period.

Figure 1 is a line graph showing prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, among children aged 5 to 17 years in the United States, by sex, for 3-year combined periods from 1998 to 2001 through 2007 to 2009.

NOTE: Access data table for Figure 1 [PDF 87 KB].

SOURCES: CDC/NCHS, Health Data Interactive and National Health Interview Survey.


ADHD prevalence varied by race and ethnicity, but differences between most groups narrowed from 1998 through 2009.

  • ADHD prevalence increased from 1998–2000 to 2007–2009 for non-Hispanic white children (from 8.2% to 10.6%) and for non-Hispanic black children (from 5.1% to 9.5%) (Figure 2).

  • In 1998–2000, non-Hispanic white children had higher ADHD prevalence compared with all other race groups, and Mexican children had the lowest prevalence.

  • In 2007–2009, ADHD prevalence was similar among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Puerto Rican children. ADHD was lower among Mexican children compared with children in the three other racial and ethnic groups.

Figure 2 is a line graph showing prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, among children aged 5 to 17 years in the United States, by race and ethnicity, for 3-year combined periods from 1998 to 2001 through 2007 to 2009.

NOTE: Access data table for Figure 2 [PDF - 87 KB].

SOURCES: CDC/NCHS, Health Data Interactive and National Health Interview Survey.


From 1998 through 2009, ADHD prevalence increased for children with family income less than 100% of the poverty level and for those with family income between 100% and 199% of the poverty level.

  • From 1998–2000 to 2007–2009, ADHD prevalence increased from 7.5% to 10.3% for children with family income less than 100% of the poverty level, and from 7% to 10.6% for children with family income between 100% and 199% of the poverty level (Figure 3).

  • In 1998–2000, ADHD prevalence was similar among all income groups, but in 2007–2009 the prevalence was higher among children with family income less than 100% or between 100% and 199% of the poverty level, compared with those with income greater than or equal to 200% of the poverty level.

Figure 3 is a line graph showing prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, among children aged 5 to 17 years in the United States, by poverty status, for 3-year combined periods from 1998 to 2001 through 2007 to 2009.

NOTE: Access data table for Figure 3 [PDF - 87 KB].

SOURCES: CDC/NCHS, Health Data Interactive and National Health Interview Survey.


ADHD prevalence rose in the Midwest and South regions of the United States from 1998 through 2009.

  • ADHD prevalence rose from 1998–2000 to 2007–2009 in the Midwest region (from 7.1% to 10.2%) and in the South region (from 8.1% to 10.3%) (Figure 4).

  • In 1998–2000, ADHD prevalence was higher in the South region than in all other regions. In 2007–2009, ADHD prevalence was similar in the South and Midwest regions; prevalence in these two regions was higher than in the Northeast and West regions.

Figure 4 is a line graph showing prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, among children aged 5 to 17 years in the United States, by geographic region, for 3-year combined periods from 1998 to 2001 through 2007 to 2009. 

NOTES: For a listing of states in each of the four U.S. Census regions [PDF - 1 MB]. Access data table for Figure 4 [PDF - 87 KB].

SOURCES: CDC/NCHS, Health Data Interactive and National Health Interview Survey.



From 1998–2000 through 2007–2009, the prevalence of ADHD increased among children aged 5–17 years, from 6.9% to 9.0%. These increases were seen among both boys and girls, among children in most racial and ethnic groups except Mexican children, and among children with family income less than 200% of the poverty level. By geographic region, ADHD was more prevalent in the South and Midwest regions of the United States than in the Northeast and West regions during 2007–2009. Prevalence estimates in this report are based on parental report of the child ever receiving a diagnosis, and thus may be affected by the accuracy of parental memory (including recall bias), by differential access to health care between groups (diagnostic bias), or by willingness to report an ADHD diagnosis. One study that included clinical assessment of children for ADHD symptoms (8) found that only one-half of children meeting the criteria for ADHD had received a diagnosis of ADHD or regular medication treatment. For the present report, it was not possible to discern whether growing prevalence indicates a true change in prevalence or increased detection and diagnosis of ADHD. Nevertheless, the societal costs of ADHD—including those associated with medical, educational, and criminal justice resources—are large (8).



ADHD prevalence: Estimated based on the number of adults responding "yes" to the question, "Has a doctor or health professional ever told you that your child had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?" This question is included in the standard National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Sample Child questionnaire.

Poverty status or percentage of poverty level: Based on family income, family size, the number of children in the family, and, for families with two or fewer adults, on the age of the adults in the family. The poverty level is based on a set of income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. Families or individuals with income below their appropriate thresholds are classified as below the poverty level. These thresholds are updated annually by the U.S. Census Bureau to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (9). Estimates by poverty status from NHIS are based on both reported and imputed family income (10).


Data source and methods

All ADHD prevalence estimates were obtained from the Health Data Interactive (HDI) table, "Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disability, behavior difficulty, ages 5–17: U.S., 1998–2009," available from the Health Data Interactive website. NHIS data were used to estimate ADHD prevalence for this HDI table.

NHIS data are collected continuously throughout the year for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) by interviewers from the U.S. Census Bureau. NHIS collects information about the health and health care of the civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population. Interviews are conducted in respondents' homes, but follow-ups to complete interviews may be conducted over the telephone. The Sample Child component collects detailed data on health conditions for a randomly selected child in households with at least one child. A responsible adult, usually a parent, responds to the survey questions as proxy for the sample child. For further information about NHIS and the questionnaire, visit the NHIS website.

NHIS is designed to yield a sample that is representative of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States, and the survey uses weighting to produce national estimates. Data weighting procedures are described in more detail elsewhere (11). Point estimates and estimates of corresponding variances for the HDI estimates were calculated using SUDAAN software (12) to account for the complex sample design of NHIS. The Taylor series linearization method was chosen for variance estimation.

Differences between percentages were evaluated using two-sided significance tests at the 0.05 level. Terms such as "higher than" and "less than" indicate statistically significant differences. Terms such as "similar" and "no difference" indicate that the statistics being compared were not significantly different. Lack of comment regarding the difference between any two statistics does not necessarily suggest that the difference was tested and found to be not significant.

All estimates shown in this report have a relative standard error less than or equal to 30%. The significance of trends was tested using weighted least squares regression models of the log of each outcome and Joinpoint software (13) to determine whether an apparent change over time was statistically significant, taking into account the standard error for each data point.


About the authors

Lara Akinbami, Xiang Liu, Patricia Pastor, and Cynthia Reuben are with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, Office of Analysis and Epidemiology.



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  2. Barkley RA. Associated cognitive, developmental, and health problems. In: Barkley RA, Murhpy KR, eds. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A clinical workbook. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Guilford Press 122–83. 2006.

  3. Yoshimasu K, Barbaresi WJ, Colligan RC, Killian JM, Voigt RG, Weaver AL, Katusic SK. Gender, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and reading disability in a population-based birth cohort. Pediatrics 126(4):e788–95. 2010.

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  5. American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical practice guideline: Diagnosis and evaluation of the child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics 105(5):1158–70. 2000.

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  7. Boyle CA, Boulet S, Schieve LA, Cohen RA, Blumberg SJ, Yeargin-Allsopp M, et al. Trends in the prevalence of developmental disabilities in U.S. children, 1997–2008. Pediatrics 127(6):1034–42. 2011.

  8. Pelham WE, Foster EM, Robb JA. The economic impact of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. J Pediatr Psychol 32(6):711–27. 2007.

  9. U.S. Census Bureau: Poverty 2011.

  10. Schenker N, Raghunathan TE, Chiu P-L, Makuc DM, Zhang G, Cohen AJ. Multiple imputation of family income and personal earnings in the National Health Interview Survey: Methods and examples [PDF 814 KB]. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2008.

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2-year-old children understand complex grammar


Psychologists at the University of Liverpool have found that children as young as two years old have an understanding of complex grammar even before they have learned to speak in full sentences.

Researchers at the University's Child Language Study Centre showed children, aged two, sentences containing made-up verbs, such as 'the rabbit is glorping the duck', and asked them to match the sentence with a cartoon picture. They found that even the youngest two-year-old could identify the correct image with the correct sentence, more often than would be expected by chance.

The study suggests that infants know more about language structure than they can actually articulate, and at a much earlier age than previously thought. The work also shows that children may use the structure of sentences to understand new words, which may help explain the speed at which infants acquire speech.

Dr Caroline Rowland, from the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said: "When acquiring a language, children must learn not only the meaning of words but also how to combine words to convey meaning. Most two year olds rarely combine more than two words together. They may say 'more juice' or 'no hat', but don't know how to form full sentences yet.

"Studies have suggested that children between the ages of two and three start to build their understanding of grammar gradually from watching and listening to people. More recent research, however, has suggested that even at 21 months infants are sensitive to the different meanings produced by particular grammatical construction, even if they can't articulate words properly.

"We tested this theory by showing two-year-old children pictures of a cartoon rabbit and duck. One picture was the rabbit acting on the duck, lifting the duck's leg for example, and the other was an image of the animals acting independently, such as swinging a leg. We then played sentences with made-up verbs - the rabbit is glorping the duck - over a loudspeaker and asked them to point to the correct picture. They picked out the correct image more often than we would expect them to by chance.

"Our work suggests that the words that children say aren't necessarily the extent of what they actually know about language and grammar. The beginnings of grammar acquisition start much earlier than previously thought, but more importantly it demonstrates that children can use grammar to help them work out the meaning of new words, particularly those that don't correspond to concrete objects such as 'know' and 'love'. Children can use the grammar of sentence to narrow down possible meanings, making it much easier for them to learn."

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Bullying Victims Often Suffer Academically, Particularly High Achieving Blacks and Latinos


Victims of bullying often suffer academically, and this is particularly true for high achieving black and Latino students, according to new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“Although academic achievement is largely influenced by family background and school characteristics, our study suggests that the experience of being bullied also influences students’ grades,” said Lisa M. Williams, a doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State University, and lead author of the study. “We find that bullying has implications for achievement regardless of racial and ethnic background, but seems to be especially detrimental for subsets of certain racial and ethnic groups.”

The study relies on nationally representative data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), which, among other things, asked students whether they were bullied during the 2001-2002 academic year, when they were in 10th grade. Williams and her co-author, Anthony A. Peguero, a sociology professor at Virginia Tech, compared the academic achievement (the GPAs) of ELS participants in 9th grade, before the bullying occurred, with their academic achievement during the 2003-2004 school year, when they were in 12th grade. The scale for GPA ranges from zero (lowest) to four (highest). Their sample consisted of 9,590 students in 580 schools, including 1,150 Asians, 1,360 blacks, 1,470 Latinos, and 5,610 whites. Racial and ethnic minorities are oversampled in ELS to obtain a sufficient representation for statistical analysis.

According to the study, students who were bullied in the 10th grade experienced a .049 points decrease in 12th grade GPA. “This effect, though small, is highly significant and suggests that bullying negatively affects GPA even after factoring in previous grades, family background, and school characteristics often associated with achievement, which are all variables the study controls for,” Williams said.

But, Williams said, the most striking aspect of the study is the considerable negative effect bullying has on the GPAs of high achieving black and Latino students. For example, Williams and Peguero found that black students—who had 3.5 GPAs in 9th grade and were bullied in 10th grade—experienced a .3 points decrease in their 12th grade GPAs. The effect of bullying was even greater for high achieving Latinos. Latino students with 3.5 GPAs in 9th grade, who were bullied in 10th grade, had 12th grade GPAs that were .5 points lower. By way of comparison, white students—who had 3.5 GPAs in 9th grade and were bullied in 10th grade—saw their GPAs decrease by .03 points in 12th grade.

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School District Superintendent Turnover in Kentucky


There is little known about how superintendent turnover varies by rural status and region. Investigating such variations is especially important for Kentucky, as most of its schools and districts are rural and many are in the Appalachian region.

This REL Appalachia report, Superintendent Turnover in Kentucky, is the state’s first detailed description of superintendent turnover. It intends to help policymakers and other leaders better understand turnover so that they can develop new programs to prepare, recruit, and retain superintendents. The report describes superintendent turnover statewide, by rural status, and by Appalachian and non-Appalachian region over 1998/99–2007-08 and also looks at how turnover varies by 2007/08 school district characteristics.

Key findings include:

• Kentucky school districts averaged one superintendent turnover during 1998/99–2007/08.

• Average superintendent turnover rates in rural and nonrural school districts over 1998/99–2007/08 were within one-tenth of a point of each other.

• Average superintendent turnover rates in Appalachian school districts and non-Appalachian school districts over 1998/99–2007/08 were within one-tenth of a point of each other.

• Statewide, superintendent turnover varied with school districts’ demographic, fiscal, and achievement characteristics. However, such differences did not show patterns strong or consistent enough to suggest associations between these characteristics and superintendent turnover.

• In both rural and nonrural school districts and in both Appalachian and non-Appalachian school districts, superintendent turnover varied with demographic, fiscal, and achievement characteristics. However, these variations did not show patterns strong or consistent enough to suggest systematic differences between rural and nonrural school districts or between Appalachian and non-Appalachian school districts.

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Race and poverty often unjustifiably tied to school security measures


Elementary, middle, and high schools with large minority populations—but not necessarily higher crime rates—are far more likely than others to require students and visitors to pass through metal detectors, according to new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

In fact, the study finds that rates of student misbehavior and crime are only weakly and inconsistently related to school security measures.

"We find it disturbing that the adoption of school security is more closely related to student race and ethnicity and to socio-economic status than to actual criminal behavior," said study co-author Aaron Kupchik, an associate professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware.

In their study, Kupchik and co-author Geoff Ward, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of California-Irvine, explore the use of five school security measures—metal detectors, surveillance cameras, full-time law enforcement officers, locked/monitored gates on school grounds, and drug-sniffing dogs—across a nationally representative sample of 2,510 public schools.

They find that most security measures are common in all high schools, regardless of the size of low-income and minority populations—a finding which they say runs counter to the common expectation that poorer, predominantly nonwhite, urban schools are uniquely inclined to implement criminal justice-related security.

But metal detectors, specifically, are significantly more likely in elementary, middle, and high schools with large populations of minority students.

"Because they are used most frequently in high-minority schools, metal detectors may stigmatize nonwhite students," said Ward. "Furthermore, metal detectors are considered to be minimally effective and disruptive to learning environments, so they may create barriers to academic success that disproportionately affect minority students."

In elementary and middle schools, poverty is a significant predictor of the usage of all five security measures the researchers considered. This is particularly noteworthy because security mechanisms overall are less common in elementary and middle schools than in high schools.

"Thus, criminalization of misbehavior begins earlier for students attending schools with concentrated poverty, potentially contributing to short- and long-term disparities in educational achievement," said Kupchik.

Kupchik and Ward also find that schools in the Midwest, West, and South are more likely than those in the Northeast to employ the security measures they examined, particularly drug-sniffing dogs. Overall, southern schools are the most likely to implement tight security. These regional disparities reflect broader cultural trends, with more punitive practices common in western, Midwestern, and southern states.

Importantly, all of the study's findings remain true after controlling for student misbehavior and crime, location in an urban setting, and perceived area crime rates, which the authors say helps rule out the possibility that high-minority and high-poverty schools respond pragmatically to an elevated crime threat—in the school and/or the neighborhood—by implementing tighter security.

"Instead, it appears that school officials respond to a presumed correlation between minority and low-income students and violence and weapon use," said Ward.

In the past, researchers have argued that school security practices are a source of social reproduction; that is, they have suggested that security is disproportionately applied to "low-status" youth (i.e., minority and low-income youth), which reinforces and reproduces this low status, thus helping to maintain the inequality between those students and their more advantaged peers.

However, Kupchik and Ward are among the first researchers to use nationally representative data to empirically test this theory. Their results generally support arguments about social reproduction, particularly in the case of elementary and middle school security and in the case of metal detectors, they said.

The study uses data from the 2005-06 School Survey on Crime and Safety, a nationally representative survey of school administrators.

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Teacher Workforce Data


The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd has updated its teacher workforce data resource to allow users to examine the distribution of underprepared teachers by school characteristics such as the percentage of minority students, students in poverty in the school, and API achievement quartile. All of the data are also available on a county-by-county basis.

This important resource provides access to data that has been compiled and analyzed in unique ways for the Center by SRI International. These data sets, which are not found elsewhere, are available free of charge.

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Secondary Teacher Coaching Program Improves Student Test Scores


Coaching middle and high school teachers to enhance the quality of their interactions with students leads to significant gains in students' end-of-school-year achievement test scores, according to a study by researchers at the University of Virginia.

The study, "An Interaction-Based Approach to Enhancing Secondary School Instruction and Student Achievement," is published in the Aug. 19 issue of the journal Science.

This is the first study to evaluate the effectiveness of a professional development portfolio for teachers called MyTeachingPartner-Secondary, or MTP-S, created by researchers at U.Va.'s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, or CASTL. It is also the first to show that improvements of teachers' interactions with students lead to substantial gains in high-stakes, state standardized tests.

MTP-S is a highly structured online coaching program focused on improving the quality of teacher-student interactions in the classroom. Originally developed by Robert Pianta, dean of U.Va.'s Curry School of Education and director of CASTL, and already proven effective in early childhood programs, MTP-S was further developed and extended for middle and high school teachers through a collaboration between Pianta and Joseph Allen, Hugh P. Kelly Professor of Psychology in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences.

In the study of 78 secondary school teachers and 2,237 students, Allen and Pianta found that students whose teachers participated in MTP-S Web-mediated coaching scored better on their achievement tests by 9 percentile points than students whose teachers were not coached. The improvements in students' test scores were evident across four subject areas (math, science, history and language arts), demonstrating the value of teacher-student interactions and relationships for academic performance.

"This result is important because it is one of the only approaches to improving the general quality of teachers in secondary schools that has been rigorously documented to work across content areas," Allen said.

"Improving teaching quality is widely recognized as critical to addressing deficiencies in secondary school education," Pianta said. However, "the field has few, if any, rigorously evaluated teacher-development approaches that can produce reliable gains in student achievement."

The study also demonstrates the importance of the quality of students' interactions with teachers. It not only matters whether a teacher knows math; it matters that she or he knows adolescents and how to interact with them and engage them in learning, Pianta said.

The MTP-S program pairs teachers with coaches, recruited and trained by CASTL, who review teacher-provided video of their classroom teaching. The coach carefully isolates teacher-student interactions using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, an observational measure of teacher-student interactions better known as CLASS, as a guide. The coach identifies key behaviors and provides feedback to the teacher using annotated video and prompts posted online; the coach guides the teacher through the observation and reflection of his or her own video footage, followed by non-evaluative feedback and support from the coach.

"The fact that the program is non-evaluative and ongoing throughout the school year are some of the strongest features, in my mind," said Sharon Deal, research scientist on the project and MTP-S coach. "Teachers realize they are collaborating with a coach who structures and guides their analysis of their practice."

The strength of the student-teacher relationship and interactions makes MTP-S effective for improving student learning and motivation, Allen and Pianta said; students work harder and are more focused when they feel and experience a stronger connection with a teacher who is involved with them. The researchers describe the MTP impact as "activating" the capacity of the classroom to foster student learning and development.

This study also focused on the costs of the MTP-S program. Estimates suggest that it successfully increases student learning for as little as $40 per student, per year.

"We found that with this unique, and relatively low-cost coaching intervention with teachers, we could produce significant gains in their students' test scores," Allen said.

Another key element to the success of MTP-S is its effectiveness across all types of classrooms. The study saw that the teachers of high school English and the teachers of middle school science showed similar rates of test-score gains. The gains were also seen in classrooms comprising students from low-income homes as well as those comprising students from middle-class families. The gains were also steady across racial and ethnic categories.

"The fact that these findings are consistent across all of the major subject areas shows that MTP-S is effective for teachers of any student in any content area," Pianta said. "Knowing how to improve student learning for any student is significant. Having uncovered a way to improve learning for all middle and high school students is a very big deal."

"At a time when our secondary schools are under fire and one-fourth of entering ninth-graders fail to receive a high-school diploma four years later, the field is clearly desperate for ways to improve outcomes for teens," Allen said. "This appears to be a remarkably promising approach to improving those outcomes."
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