Ban on Sugary Drinks in Schools Doesn't Reduce their Consumption, Study Finds
11/11/2011 11:36:47 AM
Photo by fimoculous.
A study published November 7 in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine reports that banning sales of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks, in schools did not reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages overall. The researchers, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, followed 6900 public school students in states with varying in-school drink sale policies. The students were surveyed at two points, fifth grade and eighth grade, about access to sweetened drinks in school, purchases of sweetened drinks in school and overall sweetened-drink consumption.
The study found that states which ban sales of sugar-sweetened beverages in schools did not reduce overall sweetened-drink consumption among students. These findings indicate that bans on the sale of sweetened drinks in schools alone are not an effective measure for combating childhood obesity unless they are also combined with restrictions on sweetened drinks outside of school. Comprehensive bans, which allow milk, 100% juice and water, did not reduce overall consumption of sweetened beverages. However, researchers observed that they were effective in reducing in-school access to and purchasing of sweetened drinks.
A number of Schubert Center Faculty Associates are also conducting research related to childhood obesity. Dr. Elaine Borawski researches health behavior interventions for obesity. Dr. Leona Cuttler conducts research on obesity and diabetes in children. In May 2010, Dr. Marilyn Lotas presented her work on childhood hypertension, often associated with childhood obesity, at a Schubert Center talk. Download a policy brief from her talk. Dr. Ellen S. Rome studies eating disorders and obesity.
Tags: Obesity, School
Study Finds Achievement Gap Between White and Black Children Present as Early as Age 3
10/28/2011 11:35:31 AM
Photo by nycstreets
This month's issue of Child Development contains an article exploring the origins of a phenomenon known as the Black-White Achievement Gap, which refers to the substantial difference in achievement in reading and mathematics present when African American and White children enter school, which grows throughout schooling. The authors followed 314 lower income American children from birth through fifth grade. Measures of academic achievement, demographic characteristics, childrearing attitudes, depressive symptoms, parenting, neighborhood disadvantage, child care, school characteristics, and early cognitive skills were used to asses children at eight time periods.
The authors found that differences in family, child care and schooling experiences accounted for much of the gap, which was present in children by age 3. Instructional quality was especially important for Black children, who made gains in mathematics skills in the presence of certain school characteristics. These findings suggest the importance of early intervention to reduce racial inequalities in school achievement. The authors also note the importance of programs that focus on parenting skills to promote cognitive and social development in children under 3, as well as high quality child-care access for low income families.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study the importance of early childhood development and interventions, especially for disadvantaged children. Dr. Claudia Coulton studies urban poverty and neighborhood impacts on children and families. Dr. David S. Crampton conducts research on child and family welfare policy. Dr. Gerald J. Mahoney studies the role of family and parental influences on children's development and socio-emotional well being. Dr. H. Gerry Taylor researches the developmental and educational impacts of low birthweight and premature birth.
In March 2010, Nobel Laureate James Heckman spoke at at a lecture sponsored by the Schubert Center on the importance of investment in early childhood education. Find out more information about his talk and watch a video of his lecture.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, Family, Neighborhoods, School
President Obama Announces Waivers for No Child Left Behind
10/11/2011 7:49:33 AM
On September 22, President Obama announced that states would be allowed to apply for waivers to be exempt from No Child Left Behind’s requirement that all children be proficient in reading and math by 2014. These waivers would only be granted when states develop standards to prepare students for college and careers and to evaluate teachers and principals. Education secretary Arne Duncan said that the waivers are intended to provide a bridge between the current law and new legislation by Congress.
In a speech announcing the decision, Obama criticized No Child Left Behind for requiring teachers to teach to the test and to limit education in history and science. He said “This does not mean that states will be able to lower their standards or escape accountability. If states want more flexibility, they’re going to have to set higher standards, more honest standards that prove they’re serious about meeting them.”
Congressional leaders criticized the announcement on the grounds that the president is overstepping his powers. Representative John Kline of Minnesota said “In my judgment, he is exercising an authority and power he doesn’t have.” However, officials from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Idaho, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wisconsin have stated that they would probably seek waivers.
Tags: Children, Education, School
Study Finds Secondhand Smoke Exposure Increases School Absenteeism
9/7/2011 10:20:12 AM
A study released in June from Massachusetts General Hospital found that children exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes missed significantly more days of school and reported significantly more ear infections and chest colds than children who do not live with smokers.
The study was an analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey. Fourteen percent of children surveyed lived with a smoker, representing 2.6 million children in the United States. Households without smokers were more likely to be higher educated, have a higher income and were more likely to be Hispanic than households with smokers. Households with one smoker had higher incomes and were more likely to be white than households with two or more smokers.
Children who lived with one smoker had on average one more day absent from school per year and children with two or more smokers one and a half more days absent than children without smokers in their homes. The authors found that eliminating smoking from the homes of children living with smokers could reduce their absenteeism by 24% to 34%. These data suggest that between one quarter and one third of missed school days are the result of secondhand smoke exposure. Additionally, this excess absenteeism resulted in caregivers losing $227 million per year in wages and household production while taking care of sick children.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study the impact of low birth weight and prematurity, also associated with secondhand smoke exposure. Dr. H. Gerry Taylor studies the neurological implications of low birth weight. A policy brief on his recent talk on school progress in children with extreme prematurity can be downloaded here. Dr. Marilyn Lotas studies the health issues very low and low birth weight infants. Dr. Maureen Hack’s research interests include the outcome of very low birth weight children. Additionally, Dr. Scott Frank studies smoking cessation programs.
To read the study on Pediatrics website, click here.
To read a Science Daily article on the study, click here.
To read a CNN article on the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Education, Health, School
Improving Access to Books in Poorer Neighborhoods
5/20/2011 11:36:50 AM
Research consistently shows the importance of access to reading materials for children, especially low-income children. A meta-analysis published last August by Reading is Fundamental found that access to print materials, and in particular access to print materials to own, improves children’s reading performance, helps children learn the basics of reading, causes children to read more and for longer lengths of time, and produces improved attitudes towards reading and learning. A recent report by the Annie E. Casey foundation found that children who were not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to not graduate high school on time. Additionally, the Schubert Center was privileged to host Nobel Prize Winner Dr. James Heckman of the University of Chicago in March 2010 for a lecture on the economic case for investing in early childhood education. A video of Dr. Heckman’s lecture as well as other resources related to his talk can be found from our website.
An 2001 study from the University of Michigan and Temple University comparing access to reading materials in low-income and middle-income urban neighborhoods found that while middle-income neighborhoods had as many as 13 book titles available for every child, low-income neighborhoods had as few as 1 title for every 300 children. Additionally, both public and school libraries in low-income neighborhoods had fewer hours and fewer books than libraries in middle-income neighborhoods. This finding follows an earlier study that found that classroom, school and public libraries combined in a high-income neighborhood had an average of nearly 261,000 books, while libraries in low-income neighborhoods had between 113,000 and 106,000 books.
However, the limited access to books in these neighborhoods does not indicate that parents are unwilling to buy books for their children. Susan B. Newman, a co-author of the 2001 study, said in a recent New York Times article “When poor people, even those at low literacy levels, have a little extra money, they will buy inexpensive books. But some families have so little disposable income, they can’t afford any books.”
The New York Times recently profiled an organization that works to increase the number of books in the homes of low-income children, First Book Marketplace. First Book Marketplace sells books discounted far below their retail prices to programs that serve low-income children. Their website shows classic titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Where the Wild Things Are, and A Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as SAT preparatory materials and nonfiction, discounted by 50% or more.
A number of Schubert Center Faculty Associates study children in low-income households and literacy:
More information about First Book Marketplace can be found on their website.
For those interested in improving access to books in their communities, the Corporation for National and Community Service provides a toolkit for starting a book distribution team.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, Poverty, School
Faculty Associate Studies Relationship Between ADHD and Poor Academic Achievement
4/26/2011 2:00:02 PM
Faculty Associate Dr. Lee Thompson of the Department of Psychological Sciences recently co-authored a study on the relationship between ADHD behaviors and academic performance, published in Psychological Sciences. The study, which included 271 pairs of ten-year-old identical and fraternal twins, found that the link between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and academic performance is due to a variety of interactions between genes and environment.
Although the majority of twins did not have ADHD, Dr. Thompson and her colleagues studied a variety of behavioral symptoms of ADHD on a continuum, focusing on inattention and hyperactivity, as rated by mothers and researchers, as well as mathematics and reading ability. In analyzing their data, they found that some genes influence behavioral symptoms, mathematics ability and reading ability simultaneously while others influence each specifically.
In a press release about the study, Dr. Thompson notes that although the study does show a relationship between poor academics and ADHD behaviors, genes are not everything and interventions can modify the environmental influence on both academic achievement and ADHD behaviors. Finally, the study notes that future research should focus on identifying the mechanisms behind the connection between ADHD symptoms and poor academic achievement to identify areas for intervention.
Tags: Children, Development, Disabilities, Education, School
New Report Shows Children with Poor Reading Skills in Third Grade More Likely to Not Graduate from High School
4/12/2011 11:13:37 AM
A recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that children who are not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to not graduate from high school on time. The report was released just days after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan criticized recent cuts to early education programs, saying “if we want to close achievement gaps -- if we're serious about giving every single child a chance to be successful -- we have to enter kindergarten ready to learn and ready to read.”
The report analyzed statistics from a longitudinal national study of nearly 4000 students born between 1979 and 1989. The study also found that 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor and that poor Black and Hispanic students had the highest rate of failure to finish high school by age 19. The report note the importance of third grade as “the time when students shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn”, meaning that interventions after third grade are less effective than earlier ones.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study issues related to literacy and early education:
Additionally, the Schubert Center was privileged to host Nobel Prize Winner Dr. James Heckman of the University of Chicago in March 2010 for a lecture on the economic case for investing in early childhood education. A video of Dr. Heckman’s lecture as well as other resources related to his talk can be found from our website.
- Schubert Center Associate Director Dr. Elizabeth Short studies cognitive development in school-aged children as well as cognitive and academic consequences of attention deficit disorder, language disabilities, and reading disabilities. A policy brief on her work on assessing developmental differences through play can be downloaded here.
- Dr. Lee Thompson of Psychological Sciences studies the development of language in childhood and early environmental influences on reading skills in twins. A policy brief on her research on children’s development of mathematical skills can be downloaded here.
- Dr. Barbara A. Lewis of Psychological Sciences studies the role of genetics in speech, language and literacy. A policy brief on her work in this area can be downloaded here.
To read the Casey Foundation's report, click here.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, School
Read Across America Celebrates Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, Inspires Kids to Read
3/1/2011 2:52:28 PM
Since 1998, the National Education Association celebrated Read Across America every March 2. The date was chosen in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday in the hopes of inspiring children to read 365 days a year. The goal of Read Across America is to motivate children to read in order to improve student achievement and create lifelong successful readers.
Promoting reading during early childhood is linked to success in a wide variety of areas once children begin school. Nobel Prize winner Dr. James Heckman, who the Schubert Center hosted in March 2010, has found that the development of early childhood skills, such as literacy skills, will impact a child’s success throughout life.
The Read Across America Website gives a variety of activities for schools and parents to do with kids to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday and encourage reading, including bringing in guest readings, a list of good books to read with kids and making Cat in the Hat hats.
To read more about National Reading Day and find resources for educators and parents, click here.
To learn more about what you can do at home to improve your child’s literacy, click here and here.
To read more about Dr. Heckman’s work on the importance of investment in early childhood, click here.
If you are interested in learning more about child development related to reading, two Schubert Center faculty associates conduct research on reading a child development:
Dr. Lee Thompson
Dr. Barbara Lewis
- Dr. Thompson is currently conducting two research studies on development of twins. One explores on early environmental influences on reading skills in twins, while the other studies math skills in twins and their parents.
- Dr. Lewis studies a variety of genetic, medical, and neurological conditions that impact speech and language development. She is currently heading the Family Speech and Reading Study. The FSRS has followed 275 families with early childhood speech sound disorders (SSD) and found that children with SSDs are more likely to encounter challenges with reading writing and spelling later in life.
Tags: Children, Early Childhood, Education, School
The Creativity Crisis
2/25/2011 11:13:53 AM
Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman discuss the decline in creativity among Americans in their recently published article “The Creativity Crisis” in Newsweek Magazine. Creativity is the production of something original and useful and requires divergent thinking skills (generating many ideas) and convergent thinking skills (combining those ideas for the best result). Kyung Hee Kim of the College of William and Mary analyzed the creativity scores of 300,000 children and adults over time and found that American creativity scores were on the rise until 1990 and then started to fall. The article entertains several hypotheses, from increased tv and video game time, to standardized education to explain for the fall in creativity scores in the 1990’s.
While there is no clear cause for the creativity decline researchers like James C. Kaufman of California State University, San Bernardino are finding that creativity can be taught. The article goes on to talk about progressive schools like the National Inventors Hall of Fame School in Akron, OH that are using project-based learning methods and finding that children are not only enjoying school they are mastering the demands of curriculum requirements while utilizing creative thinking and problem solving skills to learn. If finding children enjoying school wasn’t a hard enough sell for encouraging creative thinking in schools, in the first year of opening the school’s state achievement scores placed them among one of the top 3 schools in Akron, Ohio.
Despite the decline in creativity scores among children over the past 20 years, there is hope that with a better understanding of the creative process, policymakers, educators, and caregivers will be better able to foster a sense of creativity throughout a child’s development.
To read the Creativity Crisis click here
To read more about how to foster creativity click here
Listen to Po Bronson, James Kaufman, and Robert Slavin discuss issues of Creativity on NPR
If you are interested in learning more about this area, the following Schubert Center faculty associates conduct research on similar topics:
Sandra Russ, PhD
- Dr. Russ' research interests include investigating how creativity and pretend play is involved in child development and understanding the role of affect in the creative process.
Elizabeth Short, PhD
- Dr. Short's research interests include cognitive development in preschoolers and school-aged children; cognitive, metacognitive, affective, and motivational factors that impact academic achievement; and individual differences in learning.
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, School
We Run This City Youth Marathon Program Encourages Physical Activity
2/1/2011 10:31:21 AM
Reserve University’s Prevention Research Center for Health Neighborhoods have teamed up to help 650 Cleveland Metropolitan School District students prepare to run in the Rite-Aid Cleveland Marathon.
The program is targeted at all kids, not just athletes, and nearly 40% of this year’s participants are considered overweight. Program Director Tara Taylor has stated that, in addition to helping kids increase their physical activity, the program can help kids learn to set and achieve goals.
Starting in 2006 with just 81 middle school students, the program has grown to over 600 participating students in 2010. The program is offered for free to schools and lasts for 12-14 weeks, during which students run 25 miles with the final 1.2 run during the marathon itself. This year, YMCA staff, CMSD nurses, Case Western Reserve University students and other volunteers screened 650 students for BMI, blood pressures and a wide variety of body composition measures.
Schubert Center faculty associates Claudia Coulton, David Crampton, Dorr Dearborn, Scott Frank, and Carol Musil are also affiliated with the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods.
Click here to listen to an NPR article with comments from Program Director Tara Taylor.
Click here to read Case Western Reserve University’s The Daily’s article on how CWRU graduate student volunteers are helping with this year’s pre-program evaluations.
Click here to visit the YMCA’s We Run This City Youth Marathon Program’s official page.
Click here to learn more about the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods and their involvement in the program.
Tags: Children, Health, Neighborhoods, Obesity, School
National School Choice Week: January 23 to 29, 2011
1/25/2011 11:44:42 AM
Sunday, January 23 kicked off National School Choice Week, a movement to gain support for educational options such as charter schools, universal vouchers and tuition tax credits. Speaker of the House John Boehner lent his support to National School Choice Week, as have a number of policy organizations.
President Barack Obama’s proposal for revising No Child Left Behind, which is up for reauthorization this year, includes plans to start or expand high-performing public charter schools, to provide options for children in low-performing public schools, and to support magnet schools. According to the Alliance for School Choice, approximately 5 percent of American children are currently participating in school choice programs. In all, 12 states, including Ohio, have targeted private school choice programs, which provide families with tuition vouchers or tax credits for supporting organizations that grant children scholarships to the school of their parents’ choice.
Affiliated with National School Choice Week is School Choice Ohio. In addition to providing a resource for parents regarding school choice, School Choice Ohio helps parents get access to the Educational Choice Scholarship Program, for children attending consistently underperforming schools, the Autism Scholarship Program, and the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program. During the 2009-2010 school year, more than 17,000 children participated in Ohio school choice programs.
Visit the National School Choice Week’s website to learn more about school choice and events going on in your community.
Click here to download the Alliance for School Choice’s School Choice Yearbook for 2009-2010.
To learn more about the plan to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, visit the U. S. Department of Education’s website on the reauthorization.
Tags: Education, School
Cleveland Schools Selected to Pilot New Common Core Standards
1/21/2011 10:28:20 AM
This August, Cleveland Metropolitan School Districts will be one of six test sites for the new national standards for math and English. The district, chosen as a pilot site for the Council of the Great City Schools and the American Federation of Teachers, received a $500,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop the pilot program.
Forty states, including Ohio, have adopted the Common Core State Standards, which will go into effect in 2014. The standards were developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices in an attempt to establish a shared set of educational standards nation-wide.
The Common Core for English includes essential literature for all students, research as a key part of writing education and a "staircase" approach to reading education to prepare children for college level reading by the time they graduate. For math, the Common Core provides specific standards for each grade level, including algebra in grade 8 and a new emphasis on mathematical modeling.
Click here to read a Cleveland.com blog post about Cleveland school’s participation and events related to the pilot program.
Tags: Children, Education, School
The Importance of Imaginative Play
1/10/2011 9:44:46 AM
Published on January 5, 2011, a recent New York Times article draws attention to the importance of imaginative play in child development. As children become increasingly scheduled with extracurricular activities and schools reduce time for play in order to prepare for tests, finding time for creative play often falls on busy parents. American children ages 8 to 18 spend 7 hours and 38 minutes a day looking at television, computer and video game screens, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Additionally, only one in five children live within walking distance of a playground or park, contributing to the rise in childhood obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The article also describes the important skills, such as impulse control, problem solving and teamwork, learned through classic games such as Simon Says and building forts. Parents can encourage creative play by providing more unstructured time and limiting screen time. The article notes the value of spaces set aside for play and the mess that comes with it, as well as toys that inspire creative play such as blocks and dress-up supplies.
Schubert Center faculty associate Sandra Russ studies the role of pretend play in child development and in child psychotherapy. “It is important to educate parents about the importance of children’s play – especially pretend play,” says Dr. Russ, “Parents should enjoy their child’s play and provide time and space for play. Children are not ‘wasting time’ when they play.”
In New York City, a recent event, called the Ultimate Block Party and supported by the National Science Foundation, attracted 50,000 people to Central Park with games such as I Spy, puzzles and sidewalk chalk. Dr. Roberta Golinkoff and Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, founders of the event, are now working to create similar events in other cities and to make the New York event an annual gathering.
Organizations such as KaBOOM! and Creative Play Plus encourage creative play. KaBOOM! helps parents identify local areas to play and provides tools for parents and community members to fundraise and build playscapes in their area. Creative Play Plus, written by several Cleveland area child educators and sponsored by Step2, provides information about the benefits of creative play and provides ideas for caregivers for inspiring creative play in children.
To read the article, visit NYTimes.com
To learn more about creative play and get ideas for engaging children in imaginative play visit Creative Play Plus.
To learn more about finding and creating accessible and safe play areas in your neighborhood visit KaBOOM!’s website.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Family, Neighborhoods, Play, School
The Impact of Daycare on Children's Health
1/4/2011 11:46:57 AM
Many parents are apprehensive about placing their child in daycare for fear that exposure to large numbers of other children will negatively impact their child’s health. Indeed, research has repeatedly shown that children who attend daycare, and particularly large group daycare facilities, experience more frequent infections than children who remain at home.
However, a recent study from the University of Montreal provides new insight that may put parents’ minds at ease. The results of this study, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, suggest that although children who attend large daycare centers do experience more infections while in daycare, it may be keep them healthier later in life. Researchers tracked children’s health for eight years and compared the health of the children who did and did not attend daycare both in the period when they were attending daycare and through their first years of school. They found that children who attended large daycare facilities actually experienced fewer infections when they entered school when compared to children who had not attended daycare. These data suggest that experiencing infections in the first few years of life may provide a protective effect, strengthening a children’s immune systems and making them more resilient to infections upon entering school.
To access the original study from the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, click here.
Dr. Lolita McDavid, Schubert Center Faculty Associate and a pediatrician at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, was recently featured on News Channel 5 WEWS in Cleveland. Dr. McDavid explains the results of the study and gives advice for parents on keeping their children healthy.
To watch the video of Dr. McDavid discussing the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Health, School
School Lunch Bill Provides More Funding, Healthier Choices
12/16/2010 1:19:48 PM
On Monday December 13, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a $4.5 billion expansion of the school lunch program. The bill adds 6 cents per reimbursed school meal, the first noninflationary increase in federal reimbursement of school lunches in more than 30 years. The increase is intended to provide funding to help schools increase the nutritional standards of federally-subsidized lunches. Additionally, the bill increases the number of children eligible for fully or partially reimbursed meals by 115,000 and streamlines the process of receiving free or reduced-price lunches.
The bill also gives the USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools, including vending machines, and requires audits every three years to ensure compliance with nutritional standards. A sample menu showing elementary school meals before and after the bill shows that meals such as pizza sticks with marinara sauce with a banana, raisins and whole milk will be changed to meals such as chef salad featuring low-fat mozzarella and grilled chicken with a whole wheat soft pretzel, cooked corn, baby carrots, a banana, skim chocolate milk and low-fat dressing. The bill also aims to source some foods in school lunches from local farms and create school gardens.
Michelle Obama has heavily supported the bill as part of her initiative to reduce childhood obesity and improve child nutrition. She released a statement saying “We can all agree that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, all children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow and to pursue their dreams, because in the end, nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. Nothing. And our hopes for their future should drive every single decision that we make.”
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Hunger, Nutrition and Family Farms, was a strong supporter of the bill. The director of legislative services for the Ohio School Boards Association in Colombus, Damon F. Asbury, mentioned concerns about whether the bill provides sufficient funding to offset the increased costs of implementing the new standards.
Tags: Children, Healthy Eating, Education, Obesity, Poverty, School
Hope for High School Graduation
12/2/2010 12:21:52 PM
While high school dropout rates continue at epidemic levels in American high schools, recent research suggests that change may be in sight. A new report from America’s Promise Alliance, titled, “Building a Grad Nation,” provides evidence that trends in high school graduation rates may be improving. Overall, the high school graduation rate nationwide rose from 72 percent in 2002 to 75 percent in 2008. This trend has been fueled by multiple factors, including the concurrent 13 percent decrease in the number of “dropout factory” high schools nationwide. These schools, defined by graduation rates of 60 percent or less, produce half of the nation’s dropouts each year. Also encouraging is the distribution of improvement across states. While a few states with improvement rates as high as 15 percent are in part responsible for the rising national average, more than half the states (29 in total) also reported significant improvements, and only three states experienced noticeable declines. This distribution suggests a nationwide movement toward improving education outcomes.
Ohio’s performance in the report was somewhat mixed. The state ranked 32nd out of 50 in progress toward improving high school graduation rates. The state reported a 1.5 percent increase in the high school graduation rate, bringing the rate to 79 percent in 2008. While this is slightly above the national average of 75 percent, it is still an unacceptably low graduation rate, particularly when compared to other Midwestern states (e.g. Wisconsin) which boasted a graduation rate of almost 90 percent in 2008. An encouraging trend, however, is found in Ohio’s success in improving or eliminating dropout factory high schools. Ohio, which reported a net decrease of 12 dropout schools (from 75 in 2002 to 68 in 2008), was one of the top seven states reporting significant decreases in dropout factory high schools.
Despite this trend toward improvement, however, the authors of the “Building a Grad Nation” are only cautiously optimistic, and emphasize the importance of continued efforts to improve graduation rates in successful states and increased attention to states in which dropout rates remain high.
To read more about “Building a Grad Nation,” including the original report, click here.
Tor read a recent New York Times Article discussing dropout trends, click here.
Tags: Children, Education, School
The Role of Video Games in Child Development
10/29/2010 1:47:47 PM
Research on video game use by children has illustrated the potential for serious harmful effects of overuse, including increased hostility and aggressive behaviors as well as decreased time spent on physical activity, interaction with family and completing schoolwork. While these negative effects are a real concern for parents, new research is illustrating the potential for video games to be used to improve children’s health and development. Research has suggested that playing video games may actually enhance children’s development of visual cognition by improving mental rotation skills and visual and spatial memory. Enhanced visual cognition may have a variety of benefits – further research indicates that surgeons who regularly played video games as children make significantly fewer errors in the operating room than other surgeons. When the surgeons were placed in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and given certain game-like tasks, it appeared that those who regularly played video games were able to access and utilize an entirely different part of the brain to complete these tasks. Though the full implications of such findings warrant further examination, they provide an interesting insight the effects of video games – and the environment as a whole – on a child’s developing brain.
Research also suggests that video games have the potential to provide an effective alternative form of education, and some schools have begun to incorporate video games as a teaching tool in the classroom. Quest To Learn, a new public middle school in New York City, centers its curriculum on the use of visual media, and video games in particular, as learning spaces for educating children. The school, which takes a “systems” approach to learning, uses technology as a tool for teaching standard middle-school curriculum, with additional classes on video game design. The “game-like” lessons are intended both to hold children’s attention and to teach them to apply knowledge on a certain topic (e.g. fractions) to other domains of thinking and learning.
To watch a New York Times video on Quest To Learn, click here.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are also integrating technology, games, and child development. Dr. Kiju Lee, Schubert Center Faculty Associate and Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has been working with colleagues to develop sensor-integrated geometric blocks (SIG-Blocks), a technologically improved version of the basic geometric blocks children have been playing with for decades. While geometric blocks are already a commonly-used tool for assessing children’s cognitive and learning processes, SIG-blocks provide automated, computerized feedback mechanism for measuring fine motor skills and indicators of cognitive growth. These data may be used by parents and health professional to monitor an individual child’s development, and to conduct research to enhance our understand human cognitive development.
Tags: Children, Development, Education, Health, Play, School
Bullying in Northeast Ohio
10/14/2010 7:01:40 AM
Bullying is a persistent and pervasive problem affecting children and adolescent from preschool through college. Though recent data suggest that bullying has declined slightly in recent years, 38 percent of students nationwide still report either bullying others or having been bullied in their lifetime. In Northeast Ohio, bullying rates reach as high as 41 percent, exceeding the national average. Perhaps of even greater concern, students who are bullied in Northeast Ohio appear to report their harassers to adults less frequently. Nationwide, 36 percent of children bullied report having told an adult, while only 23 percent of children bullied in Northeast Ohio did so.
These troubling statistics have spurred a number of investigations examining the steps schools and families are taking to address bullying. WKSU, the public radio station of Kent State University, recently aired a series titled “Mean Kids,’ examining the problem of bullying in Northeast Ohio, with a focus on the concerning case of Mentor High School. The school boasts an internationally recognized anti-bullying program, but despite these efforts, between 2005 and 2008, five Mentor High School students have committed suicide, all allegedly, “bullied to death.”
Ohio does have anti-bullying laws designed to combat these behaviors in schools, but identifying and prosecuting bullies is a difficult process. This process is further complicated by the increasing use of technology as a medium for bullying. Bullies no longer “wait in the ally with a baseball bat,” but take advantage of cell phones and internet access to harass their victims. The tragic consequences of this trend were recently illustrated by a Rutgers University freshman’s suicide, which he committed after his intimate encounter with another student was broadcast over the internet, allegedly by his roommate and another acquaintance. This is only one of many ways in which bullies may use technology to harass their victims.
This trend also makes bullying particularly difficult to identify and address. Cyberspace may allow bullies to act anonymously, and both computers and cell phones allow for bullying of schoolmates outside of the school environment. As a result, schools have difficultly determining when and how to intervene when bullying is discovered. Though a number of anti-bullying programs are currently used to combat bullying in schools, it appears that many schools still lack the mechanisms for addressing the serious problem of bullying.
Tags: Bullying, Children, Education, School
New research finds shared risk factors and predictors of becoming a bully, victim, or both
7/14/2010 10:45:53 AM
A press release by the American Psychological Association highlights recently published research by Clayton Cook, PhD and colleagues examining predictors for those at risk becoming bullies, victims, or both. The major finding of the study was that both the bullies and victims shared deficits in problem solving abilities and often had academic difficulties. Second, the authors found that age effected how much bullies and victims acted out their aggressions or internalized their feelings. Overall they found that younger bullies tend to be more defiant, aggressive and disruptive, whereas older bullies were more withdrawn, depressed and anxious. Moreover, older bullies were more bothered by rejection and being unpopular. In looking at the characteristics of victims, the researchers found that older victims suffered from depression and anxiety more than younger victims.
The authors advocate that that it may be more promising to develop interventions that target the behaviors and the environments that are putting these young people at risk of becoming bullies and/or victims. In particular, Cook suggests: “Intervene with the parents, peers and schools simultaneously. Behavioral parent training could be used in the home while building good peer relationship and problem-solving skills could be offered in the schools, along with academic help for those having troubling in this area.”
Click here to read the press release discussing this article
Click here to read the full text of the article
Article: "Predictors of Bullying and Victimization in Childhood and Adolescence: A Meta-analytic Investigation," Clayton R. Cook, PhD, Louisiana State University; Kirk R. William, PhD, Nancy G. Guerra, EdD, Tia E. Kim, PhD, and Shelly Sadek, MA, University of California, Riverside; School Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 25, No.2.
If you are interested in learning more about this area, the following Schubert Center faculty associates conduct research on similar topics:
- Interests include translating developmental models into prevention and intervention programs for at-risk youth; development and treatment of conduct problems and substance use in youth
- Research interests include child and family interventions; social/behavioral interventions for youth. Dr. Fischer is co-director of Center for Urban Poverty and Community Development
- Research interests include youth violence and adolescent behavior problems
Tags: Adolescence, Bullying, Children, School
Is Moving a Lot Bad for Kids?
6/28/2010 11:12:01 AM
Drs. Oishi and Schimmack published an interesting article this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concerning the long-term impact of children who moved frequently. This study found that introverted children were at greater risk of having more difficulties developing quality social relationships, while extroverted children tended to have the psychological resources to handle the distress of moving and creating new social bonds. Research such as this can potentially help families and school districts intervene more effectively as children transition to a new residence.
Read about this study in the Washington Post
Tags: Children, Development, School