The WWC recently released 7 single study reviews

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) provides a summary of single study reviews at the end of each month. These detailed reports on individual studies of programs, practices, or policies include a user- friendly summary of the study and its findings, along with the WWC’s assessment of the quality of the design of the research.

The WWC recently released seven single study reviews:

• Chetty, R., Friedman, J. N., & Rockoff, J. E. (2011). The long-term impacts of teachers: Teacher value-added and student outcomes in adulthood (NBER Working Paper 17699). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. View the report at
Reason for review: This study was reviewed by the WWC because it received significant media attention.
Rating: Meets WWC evidence standards with reservations

• Furgeson, J., Gill, B., Haimson, J., Killewald, A., McCullough, M., Nichols-Barrer, I.,...Lake, R. (2012). Charter-school management organizations: Diverse strategies and diverse student impacts. Report prepared by Mathematica Policy Research and the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research. View the report at
Reason for review: This study was reviewed by the WWC because it received significant media attention.
Rating: Meets WWC evidence standards with reservations

• Goodman, S. F., & Turner, L. J. (2010). Teacher incentive pay and educational outcomes: Evidence from the New York City Bonus Program. New York: Columbia University. View the report at
Reason for review: This study was reviewed by the WWC because it received significant media attention.
Rating: Meets WWC evidence standards without reservations

• Lorch, Jr., R. F., Lorch, E. P., Calderhead, W. J., Dunlap, E. E., Hodell, E. C., & Freer, B. D. (2010). Learning the control of variables strategy in higher and lower achieving classrooms: Contributions of explicit instruction and experimentation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(1), 90–101. View the report at
Reason for review: This study was identified for review by the WWC because it was supported by a grant to the University of Kentucky (Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Lorch) from the National Center for Education Research (NCER) at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
Rating: Meets WWC evidence standards without reservations

• Piasta, S., Justice, L., McGinty, A., & Kaderavek, J. (2012). Increasing young children’s contact with print during shared reading: Longitudinal effects on literacy achievement. Child Development, 83(3), 810–820. View the report at
Reason for review: This study was reviewed by the WWC because it received significant media attention.
Rating: Meets WWC evidence standards with reservations

• Slavin, R. E., & Karweit, N. L. (1984). Mastery learning and student teams: A factorial experiment in urban general mathematics classes. American Educational Research Journal, 12(4), 725–736. View the report at
Reason for review: This study was identified for review by the WWC because it was cited as evidence in an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant proposal.
Rating: Meets WWC evidence standards with reservations

• Tran, Z. (2005). Help with English Language Proficiency “HELP” program evaluation of sheltered instruction multimedia lessons [White paper]. Retrieved from View the report at
Reason for review: This study was identified for review by the WWC because it was cited as evidence in an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant proposal.
Rating: Meets WWC evidence standards without reservations

In addition, one study was reviewed that did not meet WWC standards. This study has been included in the WWC database, but a single study report was not produced:

• Gonzalez, J. E., Pollard-Durodola, S., Simmons, D. C., Taylor, A. B., Davis, M. J., Kim, M., & Simmons, L. (2011) Developing low-income preschoolers’ social studies and science vocabulary knowledge through content-focused shared book reading. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 4(1), 25–52. Learn more about the review at,16&q=sid=10009.
Reason for review: This study was identified for review by the WWC because it was supported by a grant to Texas A & M University (Principal Investigator: Jorge Gonzalez) from the National Center for Education Research (NCER) at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

Learn more about the WWC’s single study reviews and read the recent releases at
You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Autism early intervention found to normalize brain activity in children as young as 18 months

An intensive early intervention therapy that is effective for improving cognition and language skills among very young children with autism also normalizes their brain activity, decreases their autism symptoms and improves their social skills, a nationwide study has found. The researchers said the study is the first to demonstrate that an autism early intervention program can normalize brain activity.

"We know that infant brains are quite malleable and previously demonstrated that this therapy capitalizes on the potential of learning that an infant brain has in order to limit autism's deleterious effects," said study author Sally Rogers, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and a researcher with the UC Davis MIND Institute.

"The findings on improved behavioral outcomes and the ability to normalize brain activity associated with social activities signify that there is tremendous potential for the brains of children with autism to develop and grow more normally," Rogers said.

Published online today in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the randomized, case-controlled, multi-centered study titled "Early behavioral intervention is associated with normalized brain activity in young children with autism," found that the children who received the intervention exhibited greater brain activation when viewing faces rather than objects, a response that was typical of the normal children in the study, and the opposite of the children with autism who received other intervention.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children born today will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Hallmarks of the neurodevelopmental condition include persistent deficits in social communication and relatedness, and repetitive or restrictive patterns of interest that appear in early childhood and impair everyday functioning.

Named the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), the intervention method was developed by Rogers and Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of the research and advocacy organization Autism Speaks. The therapy fuses a play-based, developmental, relationship-based approach and the teaching methods of applied behavioral analysis.

"This may be the first demonstration that a behavioral intervention for autism is associated with changes in brain function as well as positive changes in behavior," said Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which funded the study. "By studying changes in the neural response to faces, Dawson and her colleagues have identified a new target and a potential biomarker that can guide treatment development."

For the present study, the researchers recruited 48 diverse male and female children diagnosed with autism between 18 and 30 months in Sacramento, Calif., and in Seattle, as well as typically developing case controls. The ratio of male-to-female participants was more than 3-to-1. Autism is five times more common among boys than girls.

Approximately half of the children with autism were randomly assigned to receive the ESDM intervention for over two years. The participants received ESDM therapy for 20 hours each week, and their parents also were trained to deliver the treatment, a core feature of the intervention. The other participants with autism received similar amounts of various community-based interventions as well as evaluations, referrals, resource manuals and other reading materials.

At the study's conclusion, the participants' brain activity was assessed using electroencephalograms (EEGs) that measured brain activation while viewing social stimuli -- faces -- and non-social stimuli -- toys. Earlier studies have found that typical infants and young children show increased brain activity when viewing social stimuli rather than objects, while children with autism show the opposite pattern.

Twice as many of the children who received the ESDM intervention showed greater brain activation when viewing faces rather than when viewing objects -- a demonstration of normalized brain activity. Eleven of the 15 children who received the ESDM intervention, 73 percent, showed more brain activation when viewing faces than toys. Similarly, 12 of the 17 typically developing children, or 71 percent, showed the same pattern. But the majority -- 64 percent -- of the recipients of the community intervention showed the opposite, "autistic" pattern, i.e., greater response to toys than faces. Only 5 percent showed the brain activation of typical children.

Further, the children receiving ESDM who had greater brain activity while viewing faces also had fewer social-pragmatic problems and improved social communication, including the ability to initiate interactions, make eye contact and imitate others, said MIND Institute researcher Rogers. Use of the ESDM intervention has been shown to improve cognition, language and daily living skills. A study published in 2009 found that ESDM recipients showed more than three times as much gain in IQ and language than the recipients of community interventions.

"This is the first case-controlled study of an intensive early intervention that demonstrates both improvement of social skills and normalized brain activity resulting from intensive early intervention therapy," said Dawson, the study's lead author and professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "Given that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all 18- and 24-month-old children be screened for autism, it is vital that we have effective therapies available for young children as soon as they are diagnosed."

"For the first time," Dawson continued, "parents and practitioners have evidence that early intervention can alter the course of brain and behavioral development in young children. It is crucial that all children with autism have access to early intervention which can promote the most positive long-term outcomes."

Rogers, Dawson and Laurie J. Vismara, also a researcher with the MIND Institute, have authored two books on the intervention. One for professionals is titled "Early Start Denver Model for Young Children with Autism: Promoting Language, Learning, and Engagement" and one for parents titled "An Early Start for Your Child with Autism: Using Everyday Activities to Help Kids Connect, Communicate, and Learn."

The ESDM intervention is available in Sacramento through the MIND Institute clinic and in a number of locations throughout the U.S. and other nations. Training in delivering the ESDM method is provided through the MIND Institute and the University of Washington.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

We Need To Better Identify Talented Students from Low Income and Disadvantaged Backgrounds

Greater accountability, better trained teachers, expanded access to supplemental programs and the removal of policy barriers are among the recommendations a newly released report offers to reverse the nation's neglect of its high-potential students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Unlocking Emergent Talent: Supporting High Achievement of Low-Income, High-Ability Students, released by the National Association for Gifted Children, offers a set of priority recommendations that emerged out of a two day National Summit on Low-Income, High-Ability Learners that brought together more than 50 leading experts in the field to address these critical issues. Unlocking Emergent Talent and the Summit were developed in part through a generous grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

"For decades, our nation has failed to heed our obligation to develop our high-ability and high-potential talent, the students of today who will drive our national prosperity tomorrow. Summit participants explored the many challenges in this area, but more importantly, focused on identifying well-supported and replicable solutions to reverse this neglect," Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, President of NAGC and Professor of Education at Northwestern University, said. "Unlocking Emergent Talent provides a blueprint policymakers, teachers, administrators and researchers can take up – beginning today – to remove barriers to access and other impediments and ensure no high-ability or high-potential student falls through the system's cracks," Olszweski-Kubilius.

As part of the two-day Summit held in May in Washington, experts including teachers, directors of supplemental programs, researchers and policy experts identified numerous barriers to access for students from low-income backgrounds to gifted and related programs. Obstacles include:

*Limitations on the concept of giftedness that fails to focus on high-potential;

*Misconceptions that few high-ability students exist in low-income settings;

*Inadequate training of teachers to identify potential, particularly in such settings;

*Supplemental programs that are not easily accessible or affordable; and

*Students who may reject a gifted label out of fear of being ostracized.

The report identifies factors common to successful programs and services – such as a rigorous curriculum, greatly expanded learning time, development of psychosocial factors such as motivation, resiliency, academic self-concept that are critical to achievement, and other support services and identification systems that rely on multiple factors and that are not limited to only one point during a student's academic career. It then recommends both policy and practice reforms that would expand uptake of these successful interventions so they can reach a larger number of students.

"We know effective strategies to identify and support high-ability learners from low-income backgrounds and to help students remain on track in spite of setbacks or obstacles, do exist. The challenge is to disseminate these interventions so they can be widely replicated and to make them as affordable and accessible as possible," Olszewski-Kubilius said.

In addition to recommendations in practice and policy, Unlocking Emergent Talent also recommends a research agenda in the areas of psychosocial issues, barriers to participation in gifted education programming and the characteristics of instructional strategies that have been shown to be successful with this special population of students.

"NAGC looks forward to working with a policymakers, teachers, administrators and researchers to move the recommendations of this report forward so that we can unlock all talent – documented and emergent – and rebuild our nation's commitment to a systemic talent development system," Olszewski- Kubilius said.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Charter School Grants Aren't Adequately Monitored

U.S. Department of Education Office of the Inspector General’s FINAL AUDIT REPORT of The Office of Innovation and Improvement’s Oversight and Monitoring of the Charter Schools Program’s Planning and Implementation Grants

The objectives of this audit were to determine whether the U.S. Department of Education (Department), Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) (1) had effective oversight and monitoring to ensure grantees of the Charter Schools Program’s State Educational Agency (SEA) Planning and Implementation Grant (SEA grant) and the Charter School Program non-SEA Planning and Implementation Grant (non-SEA grant) met grant goals and objectives and (2) ensured that SEAs have effective oversight and monitoring to ensure subgrantees of the SEA grant met the goals and objectives of the grant. The review covered the grant period August 1, 2007, through September 30, 2011.

To accomplish the objectives of this audit, the auditors reviewed OII’s monitoring procedures for both the SEA grant and non-SEA grant. The auditors judgmentally selected three SEAs to use as case studies to aid in answering our objective. The SEAs selected were the California Department of Education (California SEA), the Arizona Department of Education (Arizona SEA), and the Florida Department of Education (Florida SEA). The auditors made these selections based on a risk matrix we developed of SEAs that received the SEA grant during our audit period. For the non-SEA grant, The auditors reviewed all of OII’s files on charter schools in Arizona that received the non-SEA grant during the audit period.

The auditors determined that OII did not effectively oversee and monitor the SEA and non-SEA grants and did not have an adequate process to ensure SEAs effectively oversaw and monitored their subgrantees. Specifically, OII did not have an adequate corrective action plan process in place to ensure grantees corrected deficiencies noted in annual monitoring reports, did not have a riskbased approach for selecting non-SEA grantees for monitoring, and did not adequately review SEA and non-SEA grantees’ fiscal activities.

In addition, The auditors found that OII did not provide the SEAs with adequate guidance on the monitoring activities they were to conduct in order to comply with applicable Federal laws and regulations. The auditors identified internal control deficiencies in the monitoring and oversight of charter schools that received the SEA grant at all three of the SEAs The auditors reviewed.


The auditors found that none of the three SEAs

_ adequately monitored charter schools receiving the SEA grants,

_ had adequate methodologies to select charter schools for onsite monitoring, or

_ monitored authorizing agencies.

Additionally, the Florida SEA did not track how much SEA grant funding charter schools drew down and spent. The California SEA had unqualified reviewers performing onsite monitoring.

The auditors also found that OII did not ensure SEAs developed and implemented adequate monitoring procedures for properly handling charter school closures. Specifically, OII did not ensure SEAs had procedures to properly account for SEA grant funds spent by closed charter schools and disposed of assets purchased with SEA grant funds in accordance with Federal regulations.

The auditors recommend that the Assistant Deputy Secretary—

_ develop and implement policies and procedures for issuing and tracking corrective action plans for each monitoring finding or specific recommendation made as a result of monitoring reports produced, to ensure all reported deficiencies are corrected timely;

_ develop and implement a risk-based approach for selecting non-SEA grantees for monitoring activities;

_ develop and implement policies and procedures for monitoring grantee fiscal activities, specifically for quarterly expenditure review and annual review of Single Audit reports;

_ establish and implement requirements for SEAs to develop a detailed monitoring plan explaining the extent of monitoring that will be conducted during an SEA grant cycle;

_ provide necessary guidance and training to SEAs for the development and implementation of procedures to ensure SEAs have effective monitoring and fiscal controls for tracking the use of funds; and

_ ensure SEAs have procedures to properly account for SEA grant funds spent by closed charter schools and for disposal of assets purchased with SEA grant funds in accordance with Federal regulations.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Michigan: Higher Standards=Lower Graduation Rates

The class of 2011, the first group of students exposed to the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) for their entire high school careers, saw mixed results.

The introduction of the MMC reduced graduation rates slightly for students who entered high school with weak academic skills. For those who entered with strong skills, there was no effect of the MMC on high school completion rates.

Performance on standardized tests rose slightly for students who entered high school with strong skills. The impact on test scores was small or negative for those who entered high school with weak skills. The best-prepared students saw better performance in science, reading and math. All students experienced declines in writing scores, according to an analysis released Monday by the Michigan Consortium for Educational Research.

The consortium is a partnership between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the State of Michigan.

Results show that the merit curriculum reduced the five-year graduation rate among lower-achieving students by approximately 4.5 percentage points (from 49 percent to 44.5 percent). The merit curriculum also appears to have prompted some students to extend their stay in high school beyond the traditional four years, perhaps in an effort to meet the more rigorous curricular requirements.

In 2006 Michigan adopted the merit curriculum, a set of high school graduation requirements that emphasize math and science. The goal was to increase the rigor of high school courses and better prepare students for college. The first students covered by the curriculum started ninth grade in the fall of 2007 and would have been scheduled for an on-time graduation in spring 2011.

“These findings are for the first set of students subject to the new requirements. The results may change as schools and teachers gain experience with the curriculum,” said Susan Dynarski, a professor at the University of Michigan’s. Ford School of Public Policy, School of Education and Department of Economics. “As more students complete their high school years, we will find out whether the curriculum boosts college attendance and success, a key goal of the reform.”

Additional findings indicate large gaps across income groups and Michigan’s districts in high school graduation and college attendance. Four-year high school graduation rates range from less than 50 percent to over 90 percent across Michigan’s largest school districts. Fifty-seven percent of low-income freshmen graduate high school within four years, compared to 85 percent of students with higher incomes. And 31 percent of low-income students attend college within five years of entering high school, compared to 61 percent of students with higher incomes.

The Merit Curriculum also appears related to some personnel changes. Additional results released at the conference showed that the teaching staff at Michigan’s high schools has shifted toward merit curriculum subjects, with those teaching these topics rising from 58 percent in 2004 to 71 percent in 2011.

"Between 2004 and 2011, the overall number of high school teachers in Michigan fell. However, with the introduction of the MMC it appears that schools and districts focused their limited resources on teachers who taught core academic subjects,” said Kenneth Frank, a professor in the College of Education at Michigan State University.

The merit curriculum requires that students take Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2, as well as Biology 1 and either Chemistry or Physics. Students must take four years of English Language Arts and complete two years of a foreign language.

“The findings of this first study are important and must be seen as a diagnostic tool for our teachers, administrators, and education leaders,” said State Superintendent Michael P. Flanagan. “The Michigan Merit Curriculum is the right direction and must be maintained. We need to delve deeper now and see how we can help schools deliver it successfully to every student in Michigan.”

The study uses data from 700,000 students enrolled in Michigan’s public high schools to examine the effects of the merit curriculum. The research was funded by a grant by the Institute of Education Sciences in the US Department of Education.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Principals’ Contributions to Student Achievement Growth

Analysis of Texas data shows that students gain between two and seven months of additional learning in schools with effective principals

While it is widely believed that good school principals have a positive impact on student achievement, there has been little systematic research to date on the effect of strong school leadership. Now a new study, “School Leaders Matter,” has found that highly effective principals raise the achievement of a typical student in their schools by between 0.05 and 0.21 standard deviations, the equivalent of between two and seven months of additional learning each school year. Ineffective principals lower achievement by the same amount.

“For student outcomes, greater attention to the selection and retention of high-quality principals would have a very high payoff,” note the authors, Gregory F. Branch, Eric A. Hanushek and Steven G. Rivkin.

Specifically, the authors measure how average gains in student achievement, adjusted for individual student and school characteristics, differ across principals—both in different schools and in the same school at different points in time. They found that a principal in the top 16 percent of the quality distribution will produce annual student gains that are at least 0.05 standard deviations higher than will an average principal for all students in their school, or roughly two additional months of learning.

“The conservative estimates are somewhat smaller than those associated with having a highly effective teacher,” they state, “but teachers have a direct impact on only those students in their classroom, whereas differences in principal quality affect all students in a given school.”

In addition to examining principals’ impact on student achievement on standardized tests, the study explored patterns of change in the composition of schools’ teaching staff (reflecting the ability of effective principals to recruit and retain teaching talent), as well as the movement of principal talent across schools. Key findings include:

- Less-effective teachers are more likely to leave schools run by highly effective principals.
- Good principals are likely to make more personnel changes in grade levels where students are under-performing, supporting the belief that “improvement in teacher effectiveness provides an important channel through which principals can raise the quality of education.”
- Particularly in high-poverty schools, the most-effective and least-effective principals tend to leave schools, whereas principals of average ability tend to stay put.
- A substantial share of the ineffective principals in high-poverty schools tends to move on to take principal positions in other schools and districts, rather than leave the profession.

The authors also looked at the dynamics of the principal labor market, and noted that, constrained by salary inertia and the absence of good performance measures, the market does not effectively weed out principals who are least successful in raising student achievement. This is especially true in schools serving disadvantaged students.

The study examined 7,420 individual principals of Texas elementary and middle schools over the period 1995-2001 and made use of 28,147 ann

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

School Improvement Grants

This report is an examination of the implementation of School Improvement Grants (SIG) authorized under Title I section 1003(g) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and supplemented by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“School Improvement Grants: Analyses of State Applications and Eligible and Awarded Schools” uses publicly-available data from State Education Agency (SEA) Web sites, SEA SIG applications, and the National Center for Education Statistics’ Common Core of Data to examine the following: (1) the SIG related policies and practices that states intend to implement for the Cohort 2 SIG cycle, (2) the characteristics of SIG eligible and SIG awarded schools from the Cohort 2 SIG cycle, and (3) how the policies, intended practices, and characteristics compare between the Cohort 1 and Cohort 2 SIG cycles.

This report provides context on the second round of SIG, with comparisons to the first round of SIG.

As of March 30, 2012, 45 states and the District of Columbia had received ED approval for their Cohort II SIG applications. These applications described how states planned to implement the second round of the SIG program (e.g., for the fiscal year 2010 SIG competition) and were required to obtain their formula-based share of federal SIG funds. These applications showed that 39 states and the District of Columbia developed new lists of schools that were eligible for SIG in Cohort II. While 14 of these states voluntarily developed new lists, another 25 states and the District of Columbia were required to do so either because there were fewer than 5 unfunded Tier I and II schools remaining on their Cohort I list or because they changed their definition of persistently lowest-achieving schools.

Another key finding from the review of Cohort II state SIG applications is that states and the District of Columbia planned to refine the SIG practices reported in their Cohort I applications. For example, 25 states modified their Cohort I criteria for determining whether a district had the capacity to support SIG implementation. The Cohort II applications also show that nearly all of the states (42 states and the District of Columbia out of the 45 states and the District of Columbia with available applications) appeared to make some revisions to their Cohort I plans for supporting SIG implementation in Cohort II, encompassing the areas of state restructuring/enhancement, designated support/monitoring staff, quality control measures for external providers, professional development, improvement tools, and creating networks.

In the analysis of Cohort II SIG awards, many of the findings parallel those reported for Cohort I in Hurlburt et al. (2011). The transformation model was again the most widely adopted model, being implemented for 75 percent of SIG-awarded Tier I and Tier II schools in Cohort II. Compared to elementary and secondary public schools nationwide, SIG-awarded schools were again more likely to be high-poverty (68 percent of students in Cohort II SIG schools were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch compared to 47 percent of students nationwide), high-minority (80 percent of students in Cohort II SIG schools were nonwhite compared to 46 percent of students nationwide), urban schools (52 percent of Cohort II SIG schools were in large or midsized cities compared to 26 percent of schools nationwide).

Although Cohort II SIG schools are similar to their Cohort I counterparts in many regards, there are a few differences.

- First, Cohort II is smaller than Cohort I as most states made awards for fewer schools.

- Second, the difference in average award levels between Cohort I and Cohort II SIG schools varied by state. Of the 29 states and the District of Columbia with available data, 13 states provided larger average total awards for Tier I and Tier II schools in Cohort II than Cohort I, while 16 states and the District of Columbia allocated smaller average awards in Cohort II than Cohort I.

- Third, compared to Cohort I, Cohort II featured a higher percentage of elementary schools (38 percent of Cohort II SIG-awarded schools compared to 32 percent in Cohort I), a lower percentage of rural schools (19 percent of Cohort II SIG-awarded schools compared to 24 percent in Cohort I), a higher percentage of Hispanic students (33 percent of students in Cohort II SIG-awarded schools compared to 27 percent in Cohort I schools), and a lower percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch (68 percent of students in Cohort II SIG-awarded schools compared to 73 percent in Cohort I schools).

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Education Savings Accounts

School choice policies are increasing at a rapid rate, with conventional voucher plans now joined by neovouchers plans funded through donor tax credits as well as plans to fund private schooling through personal tax credits for parents. Into this mix, we can now add Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, the name given by Arizona lawmakers when they adopted the nation’s first Education Savings Account (ESA) plan in 2012. A recent report, The Way of the Future: Education Savings Accounts for Every American Family, promotes these ESAs as well-designed to bring Milton Friedman’s concept of school vouchers into the 21st Century.

A new review of the report, however, finds that it ignores research and lacks fundamental details that could guide policymakers as to the viability of ESAs – much as Friedman’s original voucher proposal also lacked necessary details.

The report, was written by Matthew Ladner and published by The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. It was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Charisse Gulosino, of the University of Memphis, and Jonah Liebert, of Teachers College at Columbia University.

The review was published today by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Like conventional vouchers, ESAs are conceived as providing parents with public funds to purchase approved educational services, including private schools, online education, private tutors and even higher education. A parent opting for an ESA would divert state public school funding from the local school and would instead have 90% of that funding amount placed in a personal account designated for these uses.

Gulosino and Liebert observe that the new Friedman Foundation report presenting ESAs as “the way of the future” nonetheless “lacks fundamental information to guide policymakers on their design, implementation, financing, and sustainability.”

Such details are important because they determine the equity, efficiency and cost effectiveness of ESAs, Gulosino and Liebert write. While advocates present the use of public dollars to purchase private schooling as a means to level the playing field, the reviewers see serious equity concerns in the ESA concept.

For example, they note that the Arizona ESA law allows affluent parents to supplement publicly funded accounts with their own resources, enabling them to purchase high-quality educational services inaccessible to low-income families. In theory, an ESA policy—like many conventional voucher policies—could require private schools to accept the ‘voucher’ as payment in full, but the new report does not advocate this. Yet without such limitations, the policy is likely to do little to even the playing field for lower-wealth families.

The reviewers note that the Friedman Foundation’s report also suggests ESAs as a way to sidestep state constitutional language prohibiting the support of religious organizations with public funds. Whether this attempt to avoid church-state limitations would be successful, however, is far from clear, Gulosino and Liebert write.

Finally, the reviewers note, the report fails to consider research that could inform its assertions. “Relevant, peer-reviewed evidence on school choice policies suggest that the claimed academic and economic benefits of ESAs are speculative and overstated,” the reviewers write.

These shortcomings in the report—the lack of any sort of comprehensive, in-depth analysis of ESAs, their design, or their efficacy—make it unsuitable as useful research. Instead, it merely stands as “a propaganda document,” they explain.

Gulosino and Liebert conclude: “While the report claims a better education at lower cost, and a more equitable and democratic provision of education, no evidence is presented to support these claims. In fact, it is more likely that the implementation of ESAs would have exactly the opposite effects.”

The Think Twice think tank review project ( of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policy makers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.
You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

High schools with athletic trainers have more diagnosed concussions, fewer overall injuries

High schools with athletic trainers have lower overall injury rates, according to a new study, "A Comparative Analysis of Injury Rates and Patterns Among Girls' Soccer and Basketball Players," presented Oct. 22 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans. In addition, athletes at schools with athletic trainers are more likely to be diagnosed with a concussion.

Researchers reviewed national sports injury data on girls' high school soccer and basketball programs with athletic trainers, between the fall of 2006 and the spring of 2009, from the Reporting Information Online (RIO™) and compared it to local Sports Injury Surveillance System (SISS) data on a sample of Chicago public high school programs without athletic trainers for the same sports and time period.

Overall injury rates were 1.73 times higher among soccer players and 1.22 times higher among basketball players in schools without athletic trainers. Recurrent injury rates were 5.7 times higher in soccer and 2.97 times higher in basketball in schools without athletic trainers. In contrast, concussion injury rates were 8.05 times higher in soccer and 4.5 times higher in basketball in schools with athletic trainers.

While less than 50 percent of U.S. high schools have athletic trainers, "this data shows the valuable role that they can play in preventing, diagnosing and managing concussions and other injuries," said Cynthia LaBella, MD, FAAP. "Athletic trainers have a skill set that is very valuable, especially now when there is such a focus on concussions and related treatment and care. Concussed athletes are more likely to be identified in schools with athletic trainers and thus more likely to receive proper treatment.

"Athletic trainers facilitate treatment of injuries and monitor recovery so that athletes are not returned to play prematurely. This likely explains the lower rates of recurrent injuries in schools with athletic trainers," said Dr. LaBella.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

New guidelines to prevent cheerleading injuries

Over the past few decades, cheerleading has evolved from leading the crowd in cheers at football games to a competitive, year-round sport featuring complex acrobatic stunts performed by a growing number of athletes – and as a result the number and severity of injuries from cheerleading has also surged.

In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges coaches, parents and school officials to follow injury-prevention guidelines, develop emergency plans and ensure cheerleading programs have access to the same level of qualified coaches, medical care and injury surveillance as other sports.

"Cheerleading has become extremely competitive in the past few years, incorporating more complex skills than ever before," said pediatric sports medicine specialist Cynthia LaBella, MD, FAAP, member of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine & Fitness and co-author of the new guidelines. "Relatively speaking, the injury rate is low compared to other sports, but despite the overall lower rate, the number of catastrophic injuries continues to climb. That is an area of concern and needs attention for improving safety."

The policy statement, "Cheerleading Injuries: Epidemiology and Recommendations for Prevention," will be released at a news conference at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22, at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans and published in the November 2012 issue of Pediatrics (published online Oct. 22).

Although most high schools and colleges have cheerleaders, only 29 state high school athletic associations recognize cheerleading as a sport, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) does not include competitive cheerleading in its list of sponsored sports. This is important, according to the AAP, because being classified as a sport gives athletes valuable protection including qualified coaches, well-maintained practice facilities, access to certified athletic trainers, mandated sports physicals and surveillance of injuries.

From 1990 to 2003, the number of U.S. cheerleaders age 6 and older increased by roughly 600,000, from 3 million to 3.6 million. Since 2007, there are 26,000 cheerleading injuries in the U.S. annually. Cheerleading accounts for 66 percent of all catastrophic injuries in high school female athletes over the past 25 years.

Most injuries are sprains and strains to the lower extremities, followed by head and neck injuries.

Cheerleading can include fast-paced floor routines and physically demanding skills, including pyramid building and lifting, tossing, and catching athletes in the air. These stunts account for 42 percent to 60 percent of all injuries, and 96 percent of all concussions. Cheerleading is one of the highest risk sporting events for direct catastrophic injuries that can result in permanent brain injury, paralysis or death.

Risk factors for cheerleading injuries include previous injury, cheering on hard surfaces, higher body mass index, performing complicated stunts, and inadequate coaching. As in other sports, cheerleading injury rates increase with competition level and age. Collegiate cheerleaders have a higher rate of injury than middle and high school competitors.

"Most serious injuries, including catastrophic ones, occur while performing complex stunts such as pyramids, according to Jeffrey Mjaanes, MD, FAAP, FACSM, member of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine & Fitness and co-author of the new guidelines. "Simple steps to improve safety during these stunts could significantly decrease the injury rate and protect young cheerleaders."

The AAP makes key recommendations for preventing injuries, including:

-Cheerleading should be designated as a sport in all states, allowing for benefits such as qualified coaches, better access to medical care and injury surveillance.
-All cheerleaders should have a pre-season physical, and access to qualified strength and conditioning coaches.
-Cheerleaders should be trained in all spotting techniques and only attempt stunts after demonstrating appropriate skill progression.
-Pyramid and partner stunts should be performed only on a spring/foam floor or grass/turf. Never perform stunts on hard, wet or uneven surfaces. Pyramids should not be more than 2 people high.
-Coaches, parents and athletes should have access to a written emergency plan.
-Any cheerleader suspected of having a head injury should be removed from practice or competition and not allowed to return until he or she has clearance from a health professional.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Excessive daytime sleepiness common in high school students

New research shows that high school students experience excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), with most students sleeping fewer than 7 hours per night.

Researchers from West Virginia University surveyed 141 high school students, of which 28.4% were either obese or overweight. Overall, 39% of the students surveyed experienced EDS with an Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) of >10, and were more likely to report perception of inadequate or nonrefreshing sleep than those with ESS < 10. However, the duration of sleep was less than 7 hours per night in both groups. There was no difference in the incidence of obesity or overweight, snoring, or number of hours per week spent performing physical activity, engaging in videogames, or watching television in students with ESS of <10 or >10.

Researchers conclude that the lack of association between EDS and duration of sleep suggests a sleep disorder may be present in high school students.

This study was presented during CHEST 2012, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, held October 20 – 25, in Atlanta, Georgia.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

The Effect of Schooling on Cognitive Skills

How schooling affects cognitive skills is a fundamental question for studies of human capital and labor markets. While scores on cognitive ability tests are positively associated with schooling, it has proven difficult to ascertain whether this relationship is causal. Moreover, the effect of schooling is difficult to separate from the confounding factors of age at test date, relative age within a classroom, season of birth, and cohort effects.

In this paper, the authors exploit conditionally random variation in the assigned test date for a battery of cognitive tests which almost all 18 year-old males were required to take in preparation for military service in Sweden. Both age at test date and number of days spent in school vary randomly across individuals after flexibly controlling for date of birth, parish, and expected graduation date (the three variables the military conditioned on when assigning test date).

The authors find an extra 10 days of school instruction raises cognitive scores on crystallized intelligence tests (synonym and technical comprehension tests) by approximately one percent of a standard deviation, whereas extra nonschool days have almost no effect. The benefit of additional school days is homogeneous, with similar effect sizes based on past grades in school, parental education, and father's earnings. In contrast, test scores on fluid intelligence tests (spatial and logic tests) do not increase with additional days of schooling, but do increase modestly with age.

These findings have important implications for questions about the malleability of cognitive skills in young adults, schooling models of signaling versus human capital, the interpretation of test scores in wage regressions, and policies related to the length of the school year.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

The Gender Gap in Mathematics: Evidence from Low- and Middle-Income Countries

The authors of this study establish the presence of a gender gap in mathematics across many low- and middle-income countries using detailed, comparable test score data. Examining micro level data on school performance linked to household demographics the authors note that first, the gender gap appears to increase with age. Indeed, the gap nearly doubles when comparing 4th grade and 8th grade test scores.

Second, the authors test whether commonly proposed explanations such as parental background and investments, unobserved ability, and classroom environment (including teacher gender) explain a substantial portion of the gap. While none of these explanations help in substantially explaining the gender gap the authors observe, the authors show that boys and girls differ significantly in perceptions about their own ability in math, conditional on math test scores. Girls are much more likely to state that they dislike math, or find math difficult compared to boys.

The authors highlight differences in self-assessed ability as areas for future research that might lead to a better understanding of the gender gap in math.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Flu's Deadly Danger & the Benefits of School Vaccinations

New data being presented at IDWeek 2012TM shows the fatal risk that influenza poses even for children without underlying health conditions and the effectiveness of school-based vaccination programs in protecting student populations. Together, these findings support the crucial public health message that families should take the flu virus seriously every year.

One study viewed influenza from an epidemiological perspective, analyzing U.S. pediatric influenza-associated deaths over an eight-year period and finding that 43 percent of the deaths occurred in children with no health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, that would have predisposed them to being at high risk of serious flu complications. Moreover, the study found that those young, previously healthy patients succumbed faster. The median duration of illness from onset of initial symptoms to death was four days in children with no underlying high-risk health conditions compared with seven days in children with at least one such condition.

"During the 2004-2012 influenza seasons, almost half the children who died had been previously healthy," said Karen K. Wong, MD, an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the study's lead researcher. "The numbers demonstrate how important it is for all children, even children who are otherwise healthy, to get a flu vaccine every year, and underscore why all children with severe illness should get treated early with influenza antiviral medications."

The other study looked at influenza from a proactive perspective, assessing the impact of immunization programs in elementary schools in the Los Angeles area and finding lower rates of flu and higher rates of attendance. At one school where nearly half of the students received either a flu shot or the nasal spray, a "herd immunity" seemed to even safeguard the unvaccinated children.

"It's the school-aged children who spread the flu. They generally are contagious even when active, so they tend to be around other children, giving it to them and spreading it for longer periods of time," said lead researcher Pia Pannaraj, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California and Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "It seems like the best place to prevent community spread of influenza is actually to go and prevent it at the school level."

This work is among the significant research being discussed at the inaugural IDWeek meeting, taking place through October 21 in San Diego. With the theme Advancing Science, Improving Care, IDWeek features the latest science and bench-to-bedside approaches in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and epidemiology of infectious diseases, including HIV, across the lifespan. More than 1,500 abstracts from scientists in this country and internationally will be highlighted over the conference's five days.

David Kimberlin, MD, an IDWeek chair for the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, said the influenza studies illustrate why parents should pay attention to influenza and how they and their communities can work together during flu season.

"The findings underscore how severe the flu can be, even for children with no predisposing risk factors, and why all families should try to protect themselves against the virus," Kimberlin said. "School-based vaccination programs are a key strategy in that. The benefits are immediate and, if enough students get immunized, protection can extend to children not receiving vaccine. Public health officials will find these data very useful as they continue to work toward the goal of influenza control throughout the U.S. population."

The CDC-supported study reviewed influenza-associated deaths among children younger than 18, as reported by city and state health departments and confirmed through laboratory testing. From Aug. 1, 2004 through Sept. 1, 2012, there were 829 such deaths, most of which were associated with influenza A infection. Of the 793 children with a known medical history, 341 had no high-risk health conditions. Of the remaining cases, more than half were children with neurological disorders, and nearly half had pulmonary disease.

The median age at death was 7. About a third of the children died in the emergency department or outside the hospital, the researchers found.

"Children with and without underlying medical conditions can die from influenza, and death can occur rapidly," Wong said. "Caregivers should be aware of early warning signs of severe influenza virus infection in children -- including labored breathing, decreased fluid intake or urination, drowsiness or a lack of interaction -- and should seek medical attention for them quickly."

But prevention is always better than treatment, and health experts agree that annual flu vaccination is the best protection. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends a flu vaccine for all children ages 6 months to 18 years old.

The impact of widespread vaccination not only protects the child but a community. As Pannaraj notes, school-aged children can easily share the virus with classmates, teachers and others in the normal course of a day. But within a school, they can just as easily -- and quite efficiently -- be immunized. "Schools are the best place for a campaign to prevent the spread of influenza," she said.

In the Los Angeles school-based vaccination study, Pannaraj and colleagues looked at eight elementary campuses with similar socio-demographic characteristics. Half were tagged as control schools and the other half as the intervention sites. Together they enrolled nearly 4,500 students.

During the 2010-11 academic year, between 27.8 percent and 47.3 percent of students in the intervention schools received at least one dose of flu vaccine. And as the flu season began that winter, children who came down with fever and flu-like symptoms at any of the eight schools were tested so that a diagnosis could be verified empirically. (In comparison to other studies of school-based programs, this one involved nose and throat swabs and documented absences.)

More than 1,000 specimens were obtained over a 15-week surveillance period. They showed that unvaccinated children in any school were 2.9 times more likely to get the flu compared to unvaccinated children. But they also showed that influenza rates were higher overall in the control schools -- 5.5 per 100 children compared to 3.9 in the schools where immunizations had been given.

Not surprisingly, rates of absenteeism were also higher in the control schools (4.2 vs. 3.9 days per 100 school days), and students with the flu missed more school days than their peers with other respiratory viruses.

The one school where almost 50 percent of students were vaccinated got an unexpected bump. Researchers said that such widespread coverage seemed to better protect even the unvaccinated students, who were half as likely to get the flu as those in the control schools.

The research team interviewed parents and school officials to identify barriers to greater participation in such programs. Parents' concerns over vaccine safety was a prime issue, but an equally important factor was the support, or lack thereof, of front-office staff. If the clerks who answered the main phone line and fielded parents' questions were believers in the immunization program, then they often provided reassurance and promoted the effort. In turn, those schools recorded higher vaccination rates.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Cyberbullying Only Rarely the Sole Factor Identified in Teen Suicides

Cyberbullying -- the use of the Internet, phones or other technologies to repeatedly harass or mistreat peers -- is often linked with teen suicide in media reports. However, new research presented on Oct. 20, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, shows that the reality is more complex. Most teen suicide victims are bullied both online and in school, and many suicide victims also suffer from depression.

For the abstract, "Cyberbullying and Suicide: A Retrospective Analysis of 41 Cases," researchers searched the Internet for reports of youth suicides where cyberbullying was a reported factor. Information about demographics and the event itself were then collected through searches of online news media and social networks. Finally, descriptive statistics were used to assess the rate of pre-existing mental illness, the co-occurrence of other forms of bullying, and the characteristics of the electronic media associated with each suicide case.

The study identified 41 suicide cases (24 female, 17 male, ages 13 to 18) from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. In the study, 24 percent of teens were the victims of homophobic bullying, including the 12 percent of teens identified as homosexual and another 12 percent of teens who were identified as heterosexual or of unknown sexual preference.

Suicides most frequently occurred in September (15 percent) and January (12 percent) although these higher rates may have occurred by chance. The incidence of reported suicide cases increased over time, with 56 percent occurring from 2003 to 2010, compared to 44 percent from January 2011 through April 2012.

Seventy-eight percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, and only 17 percent were targeted online only. A mood disorder was reported in 32 percent of the teens, and depression symptoms in an additional 15 percent.

"Cyberbullying is a factor in some suicides, but almost always there are other factors such as mental illness or face-to-face bullying," said study author John C. LeBlanc, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FAAP. "Cyberbullying usually occurs in the context of regular bullying."

Cyberbullying occurred through various media, with Formspring and Facebook specifically mentioned in 21 cases. Text or video messaging was noted in 14 cases.

"Certain social media, by virtue of allowing anonymity, may encourage cyberbullying," said Dr. LeBlanc. "It is difficult to prove a cause and effect relationship, but I believe there is little justification for anonymity."

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Lack of Sleep Tied to Teen Sports Injuries

Adolescent athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly slept less, according to an abstract presented Oct. 21, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

For the abstract, "Lack of Sleep is Associated with Increased Risk of Injury in Adolescent Athletes," researchers asked middle and high school athletes (grades 7 to 12) enrolled at the Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Calif., to answer questions about the number of sports they played and the time they committed to athletics (at school and through other programs), whether they used a private coach, whether they participated in strength training, how much sleep they got on average each night, and how much they subjectively enjoyed their athletic participation. Seventy percent of the student athletes (112 out of 160 students; 54 males and 58 females; mean age 15) completed the survey, conducted in conjunction with Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Researchers then reviewed those students' school records pertaining to reported athletic injuries.

Hours of sleep per night was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of injury, according to the study results. In addition, the higher the grade level of the athlete, the greater the likelihood of injury -- 2.3 times greater for each additional grade in school. Gender, weeks of participating in sports per year, hours of participation per week, number of sports, strength training, private coaching and subjective assessments of "having fun in sports" were not significantly associated with injury.

"While other studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills and fine motor skills, nobody has really looked at this subject in terms of the adolescent athletic population," said study author Matthew Milewski, MD.

"When we started this study, we thought the amount of sports played, year-round play, and increased specialization in sports would be much more important for injury risk," said Dr. Milewski. Instead, "what we found is that the two most important facts were hours of sleep and grade in school."

The advanced age risk may reflect a cumulative risk for injury after playing three or four years at the high school level, Milewski said, and older athletes are bigger, faster and stronger.
You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

“Dual enrollment” students more likely to attend, graduate from college

High school students who take college courses are significantly more likely to attend and graduate from college than peers who do not, according to a study of more than 30,000 Texas high school graduates by Boston-based education nonprofit Jobs for the Future (JFF).

JFF’s study, Taking College Courses in High School: A Strategy for College Readiness, tracked 32,908 students who graduated from Texas high schools in 2004. Half were “dual enrollment” students—completing college courses that typically award both high school and college credit—and half were not, though the two groups were otherwise similar in academic and social background. The study found:

* Dual enrollment students were more than twice as likely to enroll in a Texas two- or four-year college, and nearly twice as likely to earn a degree.
* 54.2% of dual enrollment graduates earned a college degree, compared to 36.9% of non-DE grads.
* 47.2% of DE graduates earned a Bachelor’s degree, compared to 30.2% of non-DE grads.

These benefits held for all racial groups and for students from low-income families.

“We’re excited to add to a growing body of research evidence strongly suggesting that dual enrollment improved education outcomes for all populations, including those currently underrepresented in higher education,” said Ben Struhl, lead author of the report and senior project manager at JFF.

“A big question in education reform has been: ‘How do we increase the college readiness of those most likely not to go?’” said Joel Vargas, report coauthor and vice president of JFF’s High School Through College team. “Dual enrollment is a strategy states can use to help answer that question.”

Dual enrollment is not a new concept. Most states have dual enrollment policies and programs. However, this report urges policymakers to expand college course taking for high school students through dual enrollment as a strategy to increase college readiness and success. The report also encourages policymakers to support efforts that promote the preparation of more students for dual enrollment to get on a path toward completing college, such as early college high schools that target minorities and low-income students—populations that are underrepresented in higher education. Texas has 49 early colleges, serving over 10,000 students statewide.

Texas’ results are particularly notable because the state has one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing public school populations, and has seen a spike in dual enrollment participation. Texas’ DE student body has grown from 17,784 in 2000 to 90,364 in 2010 (a 408 percent increase), according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

“We look forward to studying how Texas dual enrollees have fared since 2004,” Vargas said. “And we encourage other states to offer the same opportunities to all students—especially those with traditionally lower college enrollment and completion rates.”

To download Taking College Courses in High School: A Strategy for College Readiness, go to
You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

For Collegians with Disabilities, Success Linked to Mentoring, Self-advocacy and Perseverance

A Rutgers study of recent New Jersey college and university graduates with disabilities has found that students attributed their academic success to a combination of possessing such strong personality traits as self-advocacy and perseverance, and their relationship with a faculty or staff mentor.

Accessing campus accommodations was not a major issue but learning about such help “was not always the smoothest process,” the report noted.  The research also determined that students mainly used campus resources for assistance rather than a combination of college and community services. Additionally, investigators examined problems faced by college disability and special services offices, including record-keeping and student-faculty outreach.

“The challenges students with disabilities face on college campuses are well documented but little is known about the experience of those students who successfully completed college,” said Paula Barber, a clinical social worker and senior research project manager at Rutgers’ John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. “To level the playing field for people with disabilities by encouraging college education and completion, it is essential to learn the factors supporting degree completion.”

One such factor, self-advocacy, increases the opportunity to become more competitive during job searches, Barber reported. “While it appears college enrollment for students with disabilities is increasing, the ability to secure employment at a level matching their educational attainment is often limited,” Barber said.

Despite passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, federal research indicates that people with disabilities have a lower employment rate and higher rate of poverty and dependence on public social services support than their  counterparts without disabilities. They also complete college at a statistically significant lower rate than students without disabilities, and those who do graduate have a persistent lower rate of employment irrespective of their level of degree attainment.

For the study, college disability services professional staff identified eligible students who completed their degrees between May 2008 and May 2012 or were about to do so. The participants’ self-described disabilities included a wide range of physical, emotional and cognitive disabilities, as well as dual diagnoses. All thought their personal and financial investments in their education were “life changing” and worthwhile, Barber said. She added that some were told by high school teachers that they were not “college material.”

The collegians learned about accommodations through a variety of on-campus sources, including classmates, academic advisers, deans, at community colleges, and by trial-and-error. Parents, high school special education classes, medical professionals and outpatient rehabilitation providers were among off-campus resources. Accommodations included classroom and test-taking help, tutoring, technology support and counseling.

Twenty students from Burlington County College, Mercer County Community College, Raritan Valley Community College, New Jersey City University and Rutgers were interviewed for “College Students with Disabilities: What Factors Influence Successful Degree Completion? A Case Study.”

Among the report's key findings:

  • Students with disabilities who completed college reported using many services on campus and overwhelmingly attributed their success to a significant relationship with either a professional staff member at the Office of Disability/Special Services or a faculty member.
  • Participants had observable personal qualities (self-awareness, perseverance, interpersonal skills) that allowed them to develop and maintain positive, long-term relationships with mentors, either on-campus on in their social circles. Their insight about their disabilities and ability to self-advocate were universally high.
  • Although learning about accommodations was not a smooth process, access to accommodations was not a major issue.
  • Participating colleges were significantly challenged in accessing service information on students with disabilities.
  • Offices of Disability/Special Services are often underfunded, high-volume operations.
  • Students and staff identified faculty training on their role in providing accommodations and in understanding how disabilities affect learning in the college classroom as in need of additional support and resources.

Barber says that because previous research suggests that only about half of students with disabilities at community colleges avail themselves of on-campus resources, questions about why students fail to use such resources must be answered. She also recommends conducting research on the impact of college faculty and staff development on disability as a diversity issue and on best practices to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities to employment. 

“Including disability as a diversity issue on college campuses has been very slow to be adopted, if at all, and merits serious attention if we are to meaningfully include people with disabilities on college campuses as students, faculty or staff,” Barber said.

Barber’s research appeared in the Disability and Work research report, a joint publication of the Heldrich Center and the Kessler Foundation.


You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Children with ADHD find medication frees them to choose between right and wrong

Children living with ADHD tend to feel they benefit from medication to treat the condition and do not think the medication turns them into ‘robots’, according to a report published today. In fact, they report that medication helps them to control their behaviour and make better decisions. The study, which gives a voice to the children themselves, provides valuable insights into their experiences and the stigma they face.

The ADHD VOICES - Voices on Identity, Childhood, Ethics and Stimulants - study has worked with 151 families in the UK and the USA to examine ethical and societal issues surrounding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), particularly the use of treatments such as methylphenidate (Ritalin). The project has been led by biomedical ethicist Dr Ilina Singh from King's College London and was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Dr Singh and colleagues interviewed children and their families about ADHD, behaviour, medication and identity across four contexts: home, school, the doctor's office and peer groups. The findings of their study, which are announced today, are accompanied by a series of short films by award-winning animators The Brothers McLeod.

The report is intended not only to highlight ethical and social issues surrounding ADHD but also to help families, doctors, teachers and the children themselves to understand from a child's perspective what it is like to live with ADHD.

"ADHD is a very emotive subject, which inspires passionate debate. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the condition, what causes it, and how to deal with children with ADHD, but the voices of these children are rarely listened to," explains Dr Singh. "Who better to tell us what ADHD is like and how medication affects them than the children themselves?"

Dr Singh points out the controversies that surround providing medication to children with ADHD, which some people argue turns the children into 'robots'. She believes that in many cases and with a correct diagnosis, treatment using stimulants is appropriate and beneficial, particularly if it is complemented by other interventions. The evidence from the children she interviewed suggests that they think medication improves their ability to make their own moral choices.

Glenn (age 10), from the USA, says: "If you're driving in a car, and there's two different ways, and you usually always go this way…and then one day you want to go the other way, but…the ADHD acts as a blocker, so you can't.

"[The medicine] opens the blocker so that you can go [the right] way. But you still have the choice of going the wrong way… It's harder [without medication], that's what's the truth. But it's not like [on medication] you're a robot."

Dr Singh also found that children often did not understand their condition or why they were receiving medication, and many children in the study reported that they had little meaningful contact with their doctors. After the initial evaluation, clinic visits tended to focus on side-effect checks, during which children were weighed and measured. Most children were not asked any questions during these visits.

Roger (age 13), from the UK, says: "I've only just started going to the ADHD clinic, but I haven't actually been to it properly. I've seen the doctor and he's talked about [ADHD] and I get weighed. But...they'll just say parts of what it is but then they'll stop, so they will only say some of it and then change the subject."

Dr Singh argues that children need to be better informed and able to discuss their condition. "Given the ethical concerns that arise from ADHD diagnosis and stimulant drug treatment, it is imperative that children are able to openly discuss the value of diagnosis and different treatments with a trusted professional."

The report concludes with a series of recommendations for how parents, doctors and teachers can help children cope with and better understand the condition, and begin to tackle the stigma that currently exists around it.

Professor Peter Hill, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, says: "We hope that the VOICES Study and the ADHD and Me animations will inspire people to think differently about ADHD, drug treatments and children with behavioural difficulties.

"Behaving differently around these children is the main challenge. We hope that the strategies we have outlined will help improve the interactions with these children and help improve their lives."

Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, comments: "It is refreshing to hear the voices of children included in the debate about ADHD.

"It is a very emotive subject and despite the fact that these children are at the centre of this debate, they are too often ignored. This report sends a clear message to doctors, teachers and parents about the importance of talking to children about their condition - and more importantly, listening to what they have to say."

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Twitter improves student learning

Twitter, best known as the 140-character social-networking site where Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga chit-chat with fans, has become a new literary format that is improving student learning, a new study argues.

Christine Greenhow, assistant professor of education at Michigan State University, found that college students who tweet as part of their instruction are more engaged with the course content and with the teacher and other students, and have higher grades.

“Tweeting can be thought of as a new literary practice,” said Greenhow, who also studies the growing use of social media among high-schoolers. “It’s changing the way we experience what we read and what we write.”

In “Twitteracy: Tweeting as a New Literary Practice,” Greenhow notes that Twitter use among U.S. teens has doubled in less than two years. There are now more than 200 million active users posting more than 175 million tweets a day, according to the study, which appears in the research journal Educational Forum.

Greenhow analyzed existing research and found that Twitter’s real-time design allowed students and instructors to engage in sharing, collaboration, brainstorming and creation of a project. Other student benefits included learning to write concisely, conducting up-to-date research and even communicating directly with authors and researchers.

In teaching a college class that focuses on Twitter, Greenhow said her students participate more through the site than they do in a face-to-face class setting.

“The students get more engaged because they feel it is connected to something real, that it’s not just learning for the sake of learning,” Greenhow said. “It feels authentic to them.”

Twitter, created in 2006, comes with its own set of rules, such as using hash tags, URL shorteners and leaving enough characters blank to allow retweets. Magazines, newspapers and TV shows run Twitter content, encouraging readers and viewers to engage in the conversation online.

“One of the ways we judge whether something is a new literary form or a new form of communication is whether it makes new social acts possible that weren’t possible before,” Greenhow said. “Has Twitter changed social practices and the way we communicate? I would say it has.”

Greenhow’s research comes on the heels of another MSU study about changing communication practices among college students. That study, led by Jeff Grabill, found that first-year college students value texting more than any other writing style.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Exercise may lead to better school performance for kids with ADHD

A few minutes of exercise can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder perform better academically, according to a new study led by a Michigan State University researcher.

The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, shows for the first time that kids with ADHD can better drown out distractions and focus on a task after a single bout of exercise. Scientists say such “inhibitory control” is the main challenge faced by people with the disorder.

“This provides some very early evidence that exercise might be a tool in our nonpharmaceutical treatment of ADHD,” said Matthew Pontifex, MSU assistant professor of kinesiology, who led the study. “Maybe our first course of action that we would recommend to developmental psychologists would be to increase children’s physical activity.”

While drugs have proven largely effective in treating many of the 2.5 million school-aged American children with ADHD, a growing number of parents and physicians worry about the side effects and costs of medication.

In the study, Pontifex and colleagues asked 40 children aged 8 to 10, half of whom had ADHD, to spend 20 minutes either walking briskly on a treadmill or reading while seated. The children then took a brief reading comprehension and math exam similar to longer standardized tests. They also played a simple computer game in which they had to ignore visual stimuli to quickly determine which direction a cartoon fish was swimming.

The results showed all of the children performed better on both tests after exercising. In the computer game, those with ADHD also were better able to slow down after making an error to avoid repeat mistakes – a particular challenge for those with the disorder.

Pontifex said the findings support calls for more physical activity during the school day. Other researchers have found that children with ADHD are less likely to be physically active or play organized sports. Meanwhile, many schools have cut recess and physical education programs in response to shrinking budgets.

“To date there really isn’t a whole lot of evidence that schools can pull from to justify why these physical education programs should be in existence,” he said. “So what we’re trying to do is target our research to provide that type of evidence.”

Pontifex conducted the study for his doctoral dissertation at the University of Illinois before joining the MSU faculty. His co-investigators included his adviser, kinesiology professor Charles Hillman, and Daniel Picchietti, a pediatrician at the Carle Foundation Hospital in Champaign, Ill. The research was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

How Recent Education Reforms Undermine Local School Governance and Democratic Education

A new report, Democracy Left Behind: How Recent Education Reforms Undermine Local School Governance and Democratic Education, by Kenneth Howe and David Meens of the University of Colorado Boulder examines the impact on democratic ideals of vanishing local control over education.

Howe and Meens describe local control as “the power of communities, made up of individuals bound together by common geography, resources, problems and interests, to collectively determine the policies that govern their lives.” As regards schooling, this typically refers to control by elected school boards and their constituents.

Yet the No Child Left Behind Act and subsequent federal policy has forced a surrender of local control. The local role under these systems is largely to be held accountable by state and federal officials. While local discretion is allowed for how to comply with state and federal mandates, the constraints imposed by those mandates have been enormous. Consequently, Howe and Meens contend, NCLB and its progeny have been fundamentally anti-democratic.

The same is true of the reform policies that have been advanced by President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan. “Despite Obama and Duncan’s rhetorical support for greater local control of schools, the reform instruments that their policies are based on are clearly antithetical to it,” the authors write. They point in particular to Race to the Top, which puts states in competition with one another for federal funds to induce them to expand testing, including using student test scores as a substantial portion of teacher evaluation, and to expand the number of charter schools.

Howe and Meens explain the importance of a balance between local control and federal and state regulation. In a democracy, there is a presumption of local control, which may be overridden when it has undemocratic consequences, as in de jure segregation. But such a justification does not exist for the recent federal education policy take-over.

The authors also warn that current reform approaches are marginalizing community involvement. “Democratic reform should involve local stakeholders, especially marginalized members of society, because inclusion is a democratic value that increases not only the likelihood that policies will be just, but also the likelihood that reform will succeed,” Howe and Meens write. “Such inclusion also helps create the conditions in which all students can attain the democratic threshold.”

They conclude with a series of recommendations, urging schools and education policymakers to take three key steps.

- First, move away from a punitive model based on threats to withhold funding. This should be replaced by a participatory model – such as support and incentives for school employees, parents and community members to collaborate together on resolving educational problems.
- Second, encourage states and local communities to adopt curriculum standards “that include a conscious and substantive focus on developing the deliberative skill and dispositions required of democratic citizenship.”
- Third, curtail the privatization of public education resources. Instead, build up democratic values by holding schools receiving public funds accountable to the public through democratically elected school boards and other democratic institutions.
You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

More Research Needed on The Spalding Method® for Beginning Readers

There are many programs and instructional techniques for young readers that offer multifaceted approaches to learning. The Spalding Method®, a language arts program for grades K–6, aims to teach spelling, writing, and reading by using explicit, integrated instruction and multisensory techniques. A new report from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) takes a closer look at the research on The Spalding Method® and reveals the need for more evidence.

The WWC identified 17 studies that investigated the effects of The Spalding Method® on beginning readers and none meet WWC evidence standards. Therefore, the WWC is unable to draw any conclusions based on research about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the program for beginning readers. More research is needed to determine if the program works for these students. Read the full report now at
You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

School-wide interventions improve student behavior

An analysis of a school behavior strategy—known as School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS)—found that these types of programs significantly reduced children's aggressive behaviors and office discipline referrals, as well as improved problems with concentration and emotional regulation. The study, conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is the first randomized control trial to examine the impact of SWPBIS programs over multiple school years. The results were published October 15 in the journal Pediatrics as an eFirst publication.

SWPBIS is a prevention strategy that aims to alter student behavior by setting universal, positively stated expectations for student behavior that are implemented across the entire school. Policies and decisions related to student behaviors are based on data analysis. SWPBIS programs are used in more than 16,000 schools in the U.S.

"These findings are very exciting, given the wide use of SWPBIS across the country. These results are among the first to document significant impacts of the program on children's problem behaviors, as well as positive behaviors, across multiple years as a result of SWPBIS," said Catherine P. Bradshaw, PhD, MEd, lead author of the study and associate professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Mental Health.

The randomized trial included a representative sample of 12,344 elementary school children from 37 schools. Approximately half of the students received free or reduced-priced meals, and nearly 13 percent received special education services. The researchers analyzed teachers' ratings of students' behavior and concentration problems, social-emotional functioning, pro-social behavior, office discipline referrals, and suspension over 4 school years.

Overall, the study found significant improvement in children's behavior problems, concentration problems, social-emotional functioning, and pro-social behavior in schools using SWPBIS. Children in SWPBIS schools also were 33 percent less likely to receive an office discipline referral than those in the comparison schools. The effects tended to be strongest among children who were first exposed to SWPBIS in kindergarten.

"A unique feature of the model is the overall structure that is formed in schools to support sustainable services for students across a range of behavioral needs. Using this framework, school staff can identify students at greatest need of services and efficiently target programs and resources to them," said Bradshaw.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Brain scans can predict children's reading ability

If a 7-year-old is breezing through the "Harry Potter" books, studies indicate that he or she will be a strong reader later in life. Conversely, if a 7-year-old is struggling with "The Cat in the Hat," that child will most likely struggle with reading going forward.
Karen Struthers/iStock.comMother and child reading book

The study findings could eventually influence reading lessons for pre-elementary children, tailoring lesson plans to individual needs.

New research from Stanford shows that brain scans can identify the neural differences between these two children, and could one day lead to an early warning system for struggling students.

The researchers scanned the brain anatomy of 39 children once a year for three consecutive years. The students then took standardized tests to gauge their cognitive, language and reading skills.

In each case, the rate of development (measured by fractional anisotropy, or FA) in the white matter regions of the brain, which are associated with reading, accurately predicted their test scores.

Specifically, children with above-average reading skills exhibit an FA value in two types of nerve bundles – the left hemisphere arcuate fasciculus and the left hemisphere inferior longitudinal fasciculus – that is initially low, but increases over time. Children with lower reading skills initially have a high FA, but it declines over time.

The findings could eventually influence reading lessons for pre-elementary children. Previous studies have shown that a child's reading skills at age 7 can accurately predict reading skills 10 years down the road. A child who is struggling at 7 will most likely be a poor reader at age 17.

"By the time kids reach elementary school, we're not great at finding ways of helping them catch up," said Jason D. Yeatman, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Stanford and the lead author on the study.

The good news: Early screening could reveal which students are at risk; at an early age, the brain is plastic, and genes, environment and experiences can affect FA values.

"Once we have an accurate model relating the maturation of the brain's reading circuitry to children's acquisition of reading skills, and once we understand which factors are beneficial, I really think it will be possible to develop early intervention protocols for children who are poor readers, and tailor individualized lesson plans to emphasize good development," Yeatman said. "Over the next five to 10 years, that's what we're really hoping to do."

The research was published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

Formula for college success: High school rigor and good advice

The demand for workers with a college education is growing faster than the supply of graduates. By 2018, we will have produced 3 million fewer college graduates than the labor market demands (Carnevale, 2010). President Obama has further set a national goal to produce 8 million more graduates by 2020 in order to make the United States the world leader in college attainment.

One way to get there is to prevent the students who enter college from leaving before they earn a credential. Results vary between institutions, but in 2009 only 57.8 percent of students attending four-year colleges graduated in less than six years, and just 32.9 percent of those in two-year institutions graduated in three years (Knapp, 2012). But suppose 90 percent of our current freshmen persisted to a credential. That alone would produce an additional 3.8 million graduates by 2020 -- enough to meet the labor market’s needs in this decade and nearly halfway toward meeting the President’s goal.

Improving first to second year “persistence” rates in college is a good place to start because students are more likely to drop out their first year than any other (NCHEMS). Of all entering freshmen in 2004, 79 percent returned for the second year of college (ELS 2002-2006). Students in two-year institutions fared worse, at only 64 percent (ELS 2002-2006).

The Center for Public Education latest report “High school rigor and academic advising: Setting up students to succeed” analyzed longitudinal data tracking high school sophomores in 2002 through their second year in two- and four-year colleges in 2006 (ELS 2002-2006). They were able to identify three factors that were related to increasing a postsecondary students’ chances of staying on track to a credential as much as 53 percent, and the process begins in high school. Moreover, the impact of these factors is greatest for students who enter college as the least likely to succeed: students who began high school with below average achievement and below average socioeconomic status.

* Academic advising: For students in both two-year and four-year institutions, talking to an academic advisor in college either “sometimes” or “often” significantly improved their chances of persisting. Students in two-year institutions increased their chances of staying on track by as much as 53 percent just by meeting frequently with their academic advisor.

* High-level mathematics: At four-year institutions, lower-income students who began high school with below average achievement were 22 percent more likely to persist if they had taken Pre-calculus or Calculus instead of only completing math up to Algebra II. For similar students in two-year institutions, their chances of persisting increased by 27 percent.

* Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses: Taking an AP/IB course had a dramatic effect on students’ chances of persisting even when students fail the end-of-course test. Low achieving and low-income students who took an AP/IB course were 18 percent more likely to persist in four-year colleges and 30 percent more likely to persist in two-year colleges. The more courses a student took, the higher their persistence rates.

Other high school factors also impacted students’ persistence rates in college, including grade point average and the amount of time spent on homework in high school.
You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

The Marshmallow Study revisited

Delaying gratification depends as much on nurture as on nature

For the past four decades, the "marshmallow test" has served as a classic experimental measure of children's self-control: will a preschooler eat one of the fluffy white confections now or hold out for two later?

Now a new study demonstrates that being able to delay gratification is influenced as much by the environment as by innate ability. Children who experienced reliable interactions immediately before the marshmallow task waited on average four times longer—12 versus three minutes—than youngsters in similar but unreliable situations.

"Our results definitely temper the popular perception that marshmallow-like tasks are very powerful diagnostics for self-control capacity," says Celeste Kidd, a doctoral candidate in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester and lead author on the study to be published online October 11 in the journal Cognition.

"Being able to delay gratification—in this case to wait 15 difficult minutes to earn a second marshmallow—not only reflects a child's capacity for self-control, it also reflects their belief about the practicality of waiting," says Kidd. "Delaying gratification is only the rational choice if the child believes a second marshmallow is likely to be delivered after a reasonably short delay."

The findings provide an important reminder about the complexity of human behavior, adds coauthor Richard Aslin, the William R. Kenan Professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University. "This study is an example of both nature and nurture playing a role," he says. "We know that to some extent, temperament is clearly inherited, because infants differ in their behaviors from birth. But this experiment provides robust evidence that young children's action are also based on rational decisions about their environment."

The research builds on a long series of marshmallow-related studies that began at Stanford University in the late 1960s. Walter Mischel and other researchers famously showed that individual differences in the ability to delay gratification on this simple task correlated strongly with success in later life. Longer wait times as a child were linked years later to higher SAT scores, less substance abuse, and parental reports of better social skills.

Because of the surprising correlation, the landmark marshmallow studies have been cited as evidence that qualities like self-control or emotional intelligence in general may be more important to navigating life successfully than more traditional measures of intelligence, such as IQ.

The Rochester team wanted to explore more closely why some preschoolers are able to resist the marshmallow while others succumb to licking, nibbling, and eventually swallowing the sugary treat. The researchers assigned 28 three- to five-year-olds to two contrasting environments: unreliable and reliable. The study results were so strong that a larger sample group was not required to ensure statistical accuracy and other factors, like the influence of hunger, were accounted for by randomly assigning participants to the two groups, according to the researchers. In both groups the children were given a create-your-own-cup kit and asked to decorate the blank paper that would be inserted in the cup.

In the unreliable condition, the children were provided a container of used crayons and told that if they could wait, the researcher would return shortly with a bigger and better set of new art supplies for their project. After two and a half minutes, the research returned with this explanation: "I'm sorry, but I made a mistake. We don't have any other art supplies after all. But why don't you use these instead?" She then helped to open the crayon container.

Next a quarter-inch sticker was placed on the table and the child was told that if he or she could wait, the researcher would return with a large selection of better stickers to use. After the same wait, the researcher again returned empty handed.

The reliable group experienced the same set up, but the researcher returned with the promised materials: first with a rotating tray full of art supplies and the next time with five to seven large, die-cut stickers.

The marshmallow task followed, with the explanation that the child could have "one marshmallow right now. Or – if you can wait for me to get more marshmallows from the other room – you can have two marshmallows to eat instead." The researcher removed the art supplies and placed a single marshmallow in a small desert dish four inches from the table's edge directly in front of the child. From an adjoining room, the researchers and the parent observed through a computer video camera until the first taste or 15 minutes had lapsed, whichever came first. All children then received three additional marshmallows.

"Watching their strategies for waiting was quite entertaining," says Holly Palmeri, coauthor and coordinator of the Rochester Baby Lab. Kids danced in their seats, sang, and took pretend naps. Several took a bite from the bottom of the marshmallow then placed it back in the desert cup so it looked untouched. A few then nibbled off the top, forgetting they could then longer hide the evidence since both ends were eaten, she said. "We had one little boy who grabbed the marshmallow immediately and we thought he was going to eat it," recalled Kidd. Instead he sat on it. "Instead of covering his eyes, he covered the marshmallow."

Children who experienced unreliable interactions with an experimenter waited for a mean time of three minutes and two seconds on the subsequent marshmallow task, while youngsters who experienced reliable interactions held out for 12 minutes and two seconds. Only one of the 14 children in the unreliable group waited the full 15 minutes, compared to nine children in the reliable condition.

"I was astounded that the effect was so large," says Aslin. "I thought that we might get a difference of maybe a minute or so… You don't see effects like this very often."

In prior research, children's wait time averaged between 6.08 and 5.71 minutes, the authors report. By comparison, manipulating the environment doubled wait times in the reliable condition and halved the time in the unreliable scenario. Previous studies that explored the effect of teaching children waiting strategies showed smaller effects, the authors report. Hiding the treat from view boosted wait times by 3.75 minutes, while encouraging children to think about the larger reward added 2.53 minutes.

The robust effect of manipulating the environment, conclude the authors, provides strong evidence that children's wait times reflect rational decision making about the probability of reward. The results are consistent with other research showing that children are sensitive to uncertainly in future rewards and with population studies showing children with absent fathers prefer more immediate rewards over larger but delayed ones.

The findings, says Kidd, are reassuring. She recalls reading about the predictive power of these earlier experiments years ago and finding it "depressing." At the time she was volunteering at a homeless shelter for families in Santa Ana, California. "There were lots of kids staying there with their families. Everyone shared one big area, so keeping personal possessions safe was difficult," she says. "When one child got a toy or treat, there was a real risk of a bigger, faster kid taking it away. I read about these studies and I thought, 'All of these kids would eat the marshmallow right away.' "

But as she observed the children week after week, she began to question the task as a marker of innate ability alone. "If you are used to getting things taken away from you, not waiting is the rational choice. Then it occurred to me that the marshmallow task might be correlated with something else that the child already knows—like having a stable environment."

So does that mean that if little ones gobble up desert without waiting, as is typical of preschoolers, parents should worry that they have failed to be role models of reliability every minute?

Not necessarily, say the researchers. "Children do monitor the behavior of parents and adults, but it is unlikely that they are keeping detailed records of every single action," says Aslin. "It's the overall sense of a parent's reliability or unreliability that's going to get through, not every single action." Adds Kidd: "Don't do the marshmallow test on your kitchen table and conclude something about your child. It especially would not work with a parent, because your child has all sorts of strong expectations about what a person who loves them very much is likely to do."

You have read this article with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!