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
Some Youth Incompetent to Stand Trial Due to Cognitive Impairments and Immaturity
10/13/2011 8:20:38 AM
A study published in September's issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law found that many youth in the juvenile justice system are determined as incompetent to stand trial due to cognitive impairments and an inability to understand the long-term consequences of their actions.The authors attribute the high rate of incompetency to stand trial in adolescents, especially those under fourteen, to a "myopic temporal perspective" which leads them to misunderstand or underestimate the consequences of their actions.
The researchers used the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication (MacCAT-CA), the Judgement in Legal Contexts (JILC) instrument, the Welchsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) and the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-Second Version (MAYSI-2) to evaluate competence, future orientation, intellectual ability and psychopathy in 453 detained youth and 474 youth in the community who were not involved in the juvenile justice system. They found that competency was strongly associated with both intelligence and age. Additionally, youth with psychiatric symptoms were less competent than youth without psychiatric symptoms.
The authors note the importance of these findings in the juvenile justice system, as not all states require a consideration of maturity in evaluating juvenile defendant's competence. Aaron Kivisto, the lead author of the article, states, "When we're teenagers, we're focused on short-term consequences. Teens think about what might happen later today if they do something. Because courts can impose consequences that can affect someone's life for years, it appears that adolescents approach these longer-term and very serious implications blindly."Gabriella Celeste
, Child Policy Director, spoke with Faculty Associate Patrick Kanary
and Marcia Egbert of the George Gund Foundation on October 11, 2011 about recent reforms to juvenile justice programs in Ohio. These reforms will result in more youth remaining in their communities in evidence-based programs who would have previously been incarcerated. Download the powerpoint of their talk.
A number of Schubert Center Faculty Associates study child development, including:
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Juvenile Justice, Violence
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
Article Brings Insight to How Adolescent Brains Work
10/6/2011 8:18:50 AM
This month’s National Geographic Magazine highlights new scientific understanding of adolescent brain development and the neurological changes that occur with adolescence. Although the brain doesn’t grow much between the ages of 12 and 25, massive changes lead to a faster and more sophisticated brain by adulthood.
During adolescence, axons, the nerve fibers used to send signals between neurons, become insulated with a fatty substance, myelin, in order to boost the axon’s transmission speed. Heavily used synapses grow much stronger. At the same time the brain goes through a process known as synaptic pruning, whereby infrequently used synapses wither allowing the brain to become more efficient.
Studies of impulse control show that although teens at age 15 can perform as well as adults if motivated, they were less able than adults to use regions of the brain that help them resist impulses. Among those performing the test at age 20, these regions of the brain were as easily accessed as adults. However, adults shouldn’t look at adolescents as neurologically inferior.
The article also states that from an evolutionary perspective teen brains are “exquisitely sensitive, highly adaptable creature[s] wired almost perfectly for the job of moving from the safety of home into the complicated world outside.” Thrill-seeking behaviors by adolescents, which peak at age 15, leads teens to have an openness to new and exciting experiences. Changes during adolescence also lead teens to seek out people of their own age, building important relationships for success in adulthood.
On October 6, Dr. Laurence Steinberg of Temple University, whose research on adolescent risk-taking is described in the article, will be speaking at Baldwin Wallace College on adolescent brain development and risk taking. Learn more about his talk.
Schubert Center Faculty Associate Andrew Garner recently spoke at the County Commissioners Association of Ohio about adolescent brain development as part of a panel organized by Voices for Ohio’s Children. He was accompanied by Child Policy Director Gabriella Celeste. View their presentation. Gabriella Celeste will also be speaking at an upcoming Schubert Center event on Tuesday October 11 on her involvement in juvenile justice reform in Ohio. Learn more about this event.
Read the National Geographic article.
Little known fact: Schubert Center graduate assistant Sarah C. Miller is from Austin, Texas, where National Geographic photographer Kitra Cahana followed teens for a year in the photographs accompanying the story
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Juvenile Justice