University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study: Many education experts lack expertise

23 Feb

Reporters, seminar sponsors, political town halls often rely on “experts” to give an opinion about a particular issue. Education is an area populated by “experts” from all over the pedagogical and political spectrum. What exactly is an expert? The Legal Information Institute provides the legal definition of expert:

Rule 702. Testimony by Expert Witnesses
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:
(a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
Notes (Pub. L. 93–595, §1, Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1937; Apr. 17, 2000, eff. Dec. 1, 2000; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.) https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_702

The legal definition provides some guidance.

Science Daily reported in the article, Education ‘experts’ cited in news stories may lack expertise, study finds:

The people most often cited as “education experts” in blogs and news stories may have the backing of influential organizations — but have little background in education and education policy, a new study suggests.

The findings are cause for concern because some prominent interest groups are promoting reform agendas and striving to influence policymakers and public opinion using individuals who have substantial media relations skills but little or no expertise in education research, say the authors of the study, Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, both at the University of Illinois.

To examine possible links between individuals’ media presence and their levels of expertise, Malin and Lubienski compiled a diverse list of nearly 300 people who appeared on the lists of experts prepared by several major education advocacy and policy organizations, including the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal National Education Policy Center.
Malin and Lubienski also added to their sample a handful of scholars not on those lists but who are prominent and influential in the field of education.

Each person’s level of expertise was then scored using a formula that included their number of Google Scholar citations; their years of experience, calculated by subtracting the year they attained their highest degree from 2014; and whether or not the person had earned a doctoral or equivalent degree.

Each person’s level of media influence was calculated based upon the number of times they were quoted or mentioned in education press, U.S. newspapers or blogs during 2013; whether they had a Twitter profile; and their Klout score, which is a proxy for social media influence.
Experts were more likely to be quoted or mentioned in newspapers and blogs if they had higher scores on Google Scholar, Malin and Lubienski found. Every 1-point increase in an expert’s Google Scholar score was associated with a 1-percent increase in blog mentions.
Accordingly, each 1-point increase in years of experience corresponded with an increase of about 1 percent in newspaper citations, the researchers found.

However, affiliation with a policy or advocacy organization also substantially increased an expert’s media presence. People associated with the American Enterprise Institute were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be cited in education media.

Likewise, experts were 1.78 and 1.5 times more likely to be mentioned in blogs if they were affiliated with Cato or the American Enterprise Institute, respectively.

Although the initial list included 287 experts, Malin and Lubienski could not find the necessary information to estimate 52 of these individuals’ years of experience. More than half of these people were connected to organizations such as Cato and Heritage.

While the three people in the sample who were affiliated with Cato each received the maximum number of points for blog mentions, these individuals’ average estimated expertise score was 4.67 — substantially lower than the average score for the full sample, which was greater than 20. Perhaps the most troubling finding was that possession of a doctoral degree was associated with 67 percent fewer blog citations and 60 percent fewer newspaper mentions, and fewer Klout points, which indicates that academic researchers with empirical expertise in education are often far removed from popular and policy conversations, Malin and Lubienski said…. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150220133338.htm

Citation:

Education ‘experts’ cited in news stories may lack expertise, study finds
Date: February 20, 2015

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
A study of education experts cited in news stories and blogs during 2013 finds that some lack background in education policy and research.
Educational Expertise, Advocacy, and Media Influence
Joel R. Malin, Christopher Lubienski

Abstract
The efforts of many advocacy organizations to advance their preferred policies despite conflicting evidence of the effectiveness of these policies raise questions about factors that shape successful policy promotion. While many may like to think that expertise on an issue in question is an essential prerequisite for influence in public policy discussions, there is a traditional disconnect between research evidence and policymaking in many fields, including education. Moreover, the efforts of many policy advocates suggest that they see advantages in other factors besides research expertise in advancing their interpretation of evidence for use in policymaking processes. We hypothesize that some of the most influential education-focused organizations are advancing their agendas by engaging media and drawing on individuals who possess substantial media acumen, yet may not possess traditionally defined educational expertise. Thus, we hypothesize that media impact is loosely coupled with educational expertise. In fact, in analyzing various indicators of expertise and media penetration, we find a weak relationship between expertise and media impact, but find significantly elevated media penetration for individuals working at a sub-sample of organizations promoting what we term “incentivist” education reforms, in spite of their generally lower levels of expertise. We find these organizations are particularly effective in engaging new media forms by going directly to their audience. We consider the policy implications in the concluding discussion.
Keywords
agenda setting; decision making; educational policy; expertise; information dissemination; political influences; politics
Full Text:
PDF http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/1706/1456
Related Articles
Jabbar, H., Goldie, D., Linick, M., & Lubienski, C. (2014). Using bibliometric and social media analyses to explore the “echo chamber” hypothesis. Educational Policy, 28(2), 281-305. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0895904813515330

Lubienski, C., Scott, J., & DeBray, E. (2014). The politics of research use in education policymaking. Educational Policy, 28(2), 131-144. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0895904813515329

Henig, J. (2009). Politicization of evidence: Lessons for an informed democracy. Educational Policy, 23, 137-160. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0895904808328525

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.1706

Here is the press release from the University of Illinois:

Education ‘experts’ may lack expertise, study finds
2/20/2015 | Sharita Forrest, Education and Social Work Editor | 217-244-1072; slforres@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The people most often cited as “education experts” in blogs and news stories may have the backing of influential organizations – but have little background in education and education policy, a new study suggests.

The findings are cause for concern because some prominent interest groups are promoting reform agendas and striving to influence policymakers and public opinion using individuals who have substantial media relations skills but little or no expertise in education research, say the authors of the study, Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, both at the University of Illinois.

To examine possible links between individuals’ media presence and their levels of expertise, Malin and Lubienski compiled a diverse list of nearly 300 people who appeared on the lists of experts prepared by several major education advocacy and policy organizations, including the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal National Education Policy Center.

Malin and Lubienski also added to their sample a handful of scholars not on those lists but who are prominent and influential in the field of education.
Each person’s level of expertise was then scored using a formula that included their number of Google Scholar citations; their years of experience, calculated by subtracting the year they attained their highest degree from 2014; and whether or not the person had earned a doctoral or equivalent degree.
Each person’s level of media influence was calculated based upon the number of times they were quoted or mentioned in education press, U.S. newspapers or blogs during 2013; whether they had a Twitter profile; and their Klout score, which is a proxy for social media influence.

Experts were more likely to be quoted or mentioned in newspapers and blogs if they had higher scores on Google Scholar, Malin and Lubienski found. Every 1-point increase in an expert’s Google Scholar score was associated with a 1-percent increase in blog mentions.

Accordingly, each 1-point increase in years of experience corresponded with an increase of about 1 percent in newspaper citations, the researchers found.
However, affiliation with a policy or advocacy organization also substantially increased an expert’s media presence. People associated with the American Enterprise Institute were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be cited in education media.

Likewise, experts were 1.78 and 1.5 times more likely to be mentioned in blogs if they were affiliated with Cato or the American Enterprise Institute, respectively.
Although the initial list included 287 experts, Malin and Lubienski could not find the necessary information to estimate 52 of these individuals’ years of experience. More than half of these people were connected to organizations such as Cato and Heritage.

While the three people in the sample who were affiliated with Cato each received the maximum number of points for blog mentions, these individuals’ average estimated expertise score was 4.67 – substantially lower than the average score for the full sample, which was greater than 20.
Perhaps the most troubling finding was that possession of a doctoral degree was associated with 67 percent fewer blog citations and 60 percent fewer newspaper mentions, and fewer Klout points, which indicates that academic researchers with empirical expertise in education are often far removed from popular and policy conversations, Malin and Lubienski said.

“Our findings suggest that individuals with less expertise can often have greater success in media penetration,” said Malin, a curriculum specialist with the Pathways Resource Center and a doctoral candidate in educational administration and leadership at the university. “Although some individuals might not have formal training in research methods for analyzing the issues about which they are speaking, they possess skills and orientations that make them accessible and appealing to the media. And when these people are affiliated with organizations that have strong media arms or outreach efforts, they have the support and the incentive to engage broader and policy audiences.“
“Newer forms of media offer particularly useful opportunities for directly engaging audiences, while bypassing traditional forms of quality checks on expertise,” said Lubienski, a professor of education policy and director of the Forum on the Future of Public Education at the university. “We believe caution and consideration of individuals’ expertise are warranted when reporters and bloggers are researching topics and seeking insights – and when policymakers and laypersons are consuming media.”

Researchers who want to see their work have impact beyond the academic community must become more adept at communicating via traditional and new media. Otherwise, policy changes in education will be guided more by ideology and agendas than by research, Malin and Lubienski said.
The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives.

Editor’s note: To reach Joel Malin, call 217-244-9390; email jrmalin2@illinois.edu.
To reach Christopher Lubienski, call 217-333-4382; email club@illinois.edu

The paper, “Educational Expertise, Advocacy, and Media Influence,” is available online or from the News Bureau. http://news.illinois.edu/news/15/0220expertise_JoelMalin_ChristopherLubienski.html

The point of this study is that critical thinking cannot be stressed enough when evaluating the validity or worth of any opinion.

“Incestuous, homogeneous fiefdoms of self-proclaimed expertise are always rank-closing and mutually self-defending, above all else.”

Glenn Greenwald

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Dr. Wilda Reviews: Seattle Art Museum’s Indigenous Beauty

18 Feb

Moi recently attended the press preview of Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) exhibit Indigenous Beauty. Here are the exhibit details:

Indigenous Beauty
Feb 12 – May 17 2015
Seattle Art Museum
Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

SAM describes the exhibit with the headline, “Experience the First Art of North America.” The Native Peoples of North America belong to many cultural groups and lived in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Indigenous Peoples is an attempt to give a flavor of the many cultures by organizing the art according to geographic region. The Native Peoples used the materials and resources that each region provided.

The America Federation of Arts, SAM and other supporters helped bring a sample of the Diker Collection to Seattle, Fort Worth, Atlanta and Toledo. The Diker Collection has been displayed at both the Smithsonian and Metropolitan Museums. Deborah Donovan wrote in a 2009 review of First American Art: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection of American Indian Art:

The Dikers also have an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art in their home, and it was there that the curators of this exhibit, Native and non-Native scholars alike, came together to discuss the meanings of Native art.

Inspired by the unique juxtapositioning before them of historical Indian art with modern art-an Acoma olla placed on a table beneath two huge Jean Dubuffets and a colorful Calder mobile, for instance-the curators organized their discussion around seven aesthetic principles common to both: idea, emotion, intimacy, movement, integrity, vocabulary, and composition…. https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/first-american-art/

Given the breadth of the Native experience in North America, this carefully curated exhibit provides examples of the very best of Native artistry and craft. The artists and that is what they were, whether the genesis of their work arose from an expression of their spirit or just a need to create, demonstrate exceptional workmanship. Keep in mind; the artists used the materials they had available. Each piece in the exhibit tells a story about an aspect of the Native experience. Some of the stories may have been lost in the attempt to force assimilation on some of the cultures, but contemporary Native tribal members are attempting to recover the stories.

Indigenous People is simply stunning and a great education experience for all ages. It is worth traveling to one of the venues to breathe in the exceptional artistic and spiritual experience. Dr. Wilda gives Indigenous People a thumbs up.

Educational Resources:

Bibliography

http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/Bibliographies/Bib_DikerCollection.pdf

Indigenous Beauty Educator Resource List

http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/Documents/Indigenous%20Beauty%20Educator%20Resource%20List.pdf

Explore the regions
Western Arctic / eastern subarctic / northwest coast / great basin & california / southwest / plateau & plains / woodlands & southeast

http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/indigenous

Here is the SAM press release:

Indigenous Beauty
Feb 12 – May 17 2015
Seattle Art Museum
Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries
Get Tickets
This spring, Seattle has the opportunity to see some of the most stunning works of American Indian art ever made.
Marvel at nearly 2,000 years of amazing skill and invention. Linger over drawings, sculptures, baskets, beaded regalia, and masks.
The immense variety of Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection reflects the diversity of Native cultures. This superb exhibition offers more than great works of art and cultural artifacts—it is an invitation to explore other worlds.
Deeply engaged with cultural traditions and the land, indigenous artists over the centuries have used art to represent and preserve their ways of life. Even during the 19th and 20th centuries, when drastic changes were brought by colonization, artists brilliantly adapted their talents and used the new materials available to them to marvelous effect.
The works in Indigenous Beauty will inspire wonder, curiosity, and delight. Come experience the vast beauty of indigenous art from all across North America.
The guest curator for this exhibition is David Penney. Local curator is Barbara Brotherton, Curator of Native American Art at the Seattle Art Museum.
Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection is organized by the American Federation of Arts. This exhibition was made possible by the generosity of an anonymous donor, the JFM Foundation, and Mrs. Donald M. Cox.

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University of Texas Austin study: Small words in college essay can predict college success

11 Feb

This is an absolutely jaw-dropping statistic. According the article, Opinion Brief: Detroit’s ‘shocking’ 47 percent illiteracy rate which was posted at The Week:

More than 200,000 Detroit residents — 47 percent of Motor City adults — are “functionally illiterate,” according to a new report released by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund. That means they can’t fill out basic forms, read a prescription, or handle other tasks most Americans take for granted, according to the fund’s director, Karen Tyler-Ruiz, as quoted by CBS Detroit. Her organization’s study also found that the education and training aimed at overcoming these problems “is inadequate at best,” says Jackie Headapohl at Michigan Live. http://theweek.com/article/index/215055/detroits-shocking-47-percent-illiteracy-rate

Illiteracy is a global problem, with some geographic areas and populations suffering more from illiteracy than others.

Education Portal defines illiteracy in the article, Illiteracy: The Downfall of American Society.

Most people think of literacy as a simple question of being able to read. But while a young child who can work her way through a basic picture book is considered to have age-appropriate literacy levels, an adult who can only read at the most fundamental level is still functionally illiterate.

The world requires that adults not only be able to read and understand basic texts, but also be able to function in the workplace, pay bills, understand legal and financial documents and navigate technology – not to mention the advanced reading comprehension skills required to pursue postsecondary education and the opportunities that come with it.

As a result, when we talk about the effects of illiteracy on society, we’re talking primarily about what happens when you have a large number of adults whose literacy skills are too low to perform normal, day-to-day tasks. However, it is worth keeping in mind that childhood illiteracy is, of course, directly correlated to adult illiteracy.                                                                                                     http://education-portal.com/articles/Illiteracy_The_Downfall_of_American_Society.html

The key concept is the individual cannot adequately function in the society in which they live. That means that tasks necessary to provide a satisfactory life are difficult because they cannot read and/or comprehend what they read. Reading and literacy are important for writing and the ability for an individual to express their ideas.

Scott Jaschik wrote in the Inside Higher Education article, Analyzing Application Essays:

Admissions essays are thought of by many as less scientific than other parts of the college application process — a chance to share a personal story, to inject personality into the process, to become more than just a grade-point average or test score.

But it may be that statistical analysis can be applied to application essays — and that some words and some topics correlate with better performance in college. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in PLOS One that analyzes the words used in application essays with grades earned once enrolled.

The study found that the essays that predicted the most academic success demonstrated “categorical thinking,” which involves writing that categorizes things, and that connects concepts and ideas. Generally, writing with categorical thinking uses many articles such as “the” and prepositions such as “on” and “of.”

Essays that show “dynamic thinking,” in contrast, predict lower G.P.A.s in college. This writing tends to use pronouns such as “I” and “they” and to rely on personal narratives.

The authors of the paper — all at the University of Texas at Austin — are James Pennebaker, a psychology professor, David Beaver, professor in of linguistics; Gary Lavergne, program manager in the Office of Admissions; Cindy Chung, psychology postdoctoral fellow; and Joey Frazee, a linguistics graduate student.

The analysis is based on data from 50,000 essays from 25,975 applicants who, after being accepted, enrolled at “a large state university” from 2004 through 2007, and were then tracked for their grades. The study does not explicitly state that the students are at UT Austin, and the researchers declined to name the institution. But the size of the university seems to match UT, and the Institutional Review Board that reviewed the project was at that university….

Generally, those applicants who, compared to the average applicant, used greater numbers of long words (6 letters or more) than others, used more complicated sentences, and wrote longer essays all ended up with slightly higher GPAs than did other admitted students…. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/01/08/new-study-links-certain-application-essays-and-college-success

Citation:

Article Source: When Small Words Foretell Academic Success: The Case of College Admissions Essays

Pennebaker JW, Chung CK, Frazee J, Lavergne GM, Beaver DI (2014) When Small Words Foretell Academic Success: The Case of College Admissions Essays. PLoS ONE 9(12): e115844. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115844

Abstract

The smallest and most commonly used words in English are pronouns, articles, and other function words. Almost invisible to the reader or writer, function words can reveal ways people think and approach topics. A computerized text analysis of over 50,000 college admissions essays from more than 25,000 entering students found a coherent dimension of language use based on eight standard function word categories. The dimension, which reflected the degree students used categorical versus dynamic language, was analyzed to track college grades over students’ four years of college. Higher grades were associated with greater article and preposition use, indicating categorical language (i.e., references to complexly organized objects and concepts). Lower grades were associated with greater use of auxiliary verbs, pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions, and negations, indicating more dynamic language (i.e., personal narratives). The links between the categorical-dynamic index (CDI) and academic performance hint at the cognitive styles rewarded by higher education institutions.

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0115844

Here is the press release from the University of Texas:

Short Words Predict Academic Success

Jan. 7, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas — The smallest, most forgettable words in admissions essays can tell us in advance how students will perform in college, a new study by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin reveals.

Common sense suggests that academic potential is shown by use of long complicated words. The new research shows, on the contrary, that common, easily overlooked words — such as the, a, to, I and they — matter. These short words provide a better yardstick than long words for measuring a person’s potential.

The new study used 50,000 admissions essays written by prospective college students, enabling the researchers to connect language use to later college performance. It turned out that how students use small words is related to subsequent GPA. For example, students who heavily use the word I tend to do worse in class, and students who heavily use the words the and a do better.

“Function words allow us to assess how people are thinking more than what they are thinking about,” said James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at The University of Texas at Austin and co-author of the paper. “In the growing age of big data, we can now begin to identify the potential thinking patterns of individuals, groups and perhaps even cultures for whom there exist language records.”

The UT Austin team used computerized text analysis to show that college performance is tied to a new measure that they call the Categorical Dynamic Index (CDI). This measure is calculated from a simple combination of the frequencies of common words. Categorical thinking involves categorizing things into kinds and connecting objects and concepts in a sophisticated way. Categorical thinking is reflected by use of articles such as the and prepositions such as on and of.

The new research shows that people who think categorically do better in college than those who don’t. On the other hand, dynamic thinkers see the world in terms of narratives, typically personal and subjective. Dynamic thinkers use more pronouns such as I and they and more auxiliary verbs such as will and had, and these applicants ended up, on average, with lower GPAs in the study.

The paper, titled “When Small Words Foretell Academic Success,” appeared in the Dec. 31 online edition of the journal PLOS ONE. In addition to Pennebaker, the interdisciplinary team of researchers includes David Beaver, professor in the Department of Linguistics; Gary Lavergne, program manager in the Office of Admissions; Cindy Chung, psychology postdoctoral fellow; and Joey Frazee, a linguistics graduate student.

The surprising finding that small words are tied to academic success could, of course, be used by admissions officers. But the researchers caution against the simple use of word counts in admissions decisions.

“The results could be interpreted not as a failure of dynamic thinkers to do well in college,” said Beaver, “but as a failure of college to help students add categorical thinking to their arsenal.”

For more information, contact: David Ochsner, College of Liberal Arts, 512 626 0788;  David Beaver, Department of Linguistics, College of Liberal Arts, ;  James Pennebaker, Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts, 512-232-2781.

K-12 education must not only prepare students by teaching basic skills, but they must prepare students for training after high school, either college or vocational. There should not only be a solid education foundation established in K-12, but there must be more accurate evaluation of whether individual students are “college ready.”

Related:

Helping community college students to graduate                                          http://drwilda.com/2012/02/08/helping-community-college-students-to-graduate/

The digital divide affects the college application process                                 http://drwilda.com/2012/12/08/the-digital-divide-affects-the-college-application-process/

College readiness: What are ‘soft skills’                                                                       http://drwilda.com/2012/11/14/college-readiness-what-are-soft-skills/

Colleges rethinking who may need remedial education                                       http://drwilda.com/2012/10/24/colleges-rethinking-who-may-need-remedial-education/

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Columbia Law School study: Black girls face extreme inequality at school

7 Feb

Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline:

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).

The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school.

Rebecca Klein of Huffington Post reported in Report: Black Girls Face Extreme Inequality At School, But Little Is Being Done About It:

Black girls around the country were suspended from school six times more often than their white counterparts during the 2011-2012 school year, even though they only represent a small share of public school enrollment. Black boys also faced disproportionate rates of discipline, but to a lesser degree. They were suspended at three times the rate of white boys.
These are some of the findings of a new study released Wednesday by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and Columbia Law School Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, which looked at racism and sexism faced by black female students using data from the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.
Despite these inequities, a myth persists that generally, “black girls are doing well,” Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, the executive director of the AAPF and a professor at Columbia University Law, told The Huffington Post.
Crenshaw said she believes that school districts around the country mistreat black girls, but little effort has been put into fixing the problem. The new report used data from Boston and New York schools as a lens into the issue, and conducted interviews with teachers and students to bolster its statistical findings…. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/06/black-girl-suspension-rates_n_6564394.html?utm_hp_ref=education&ir=Education

Here is the press release from the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies:

Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected

February 4, 2015—Girls of color face much harsher school discipline than their white peers but are excluded from current efforts to address the school-to-prison pipeline, according to a new report issued today by the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies.

The report, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected, is based on a new review of national data and personal interviews with young women in Boston and New York. Read a copy of that report here.

“As public concern mounts for the needs of men and boys of color through initiatives like the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper, we must challenge the assumption that the lives of girls and women—who are often left out of the national conversation—are not also at risk,” said Kimberlé Crenshaw, the report’s lead author.

Crenshaw, a leading authority in how law and society are shaped by race and gender, argues that an intersectional approach encompassing how related identity categories such as race, gender, and class overlap to create inequality on multiple levels is necessary to address the issue of school discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline.

The study cites several examples of excessive disciplinary actions against young black girls, including the controversial 2014 case of a 12-year-old in Georgia who faced expulsion and criminal charges for writing the word “hi” on a locker room wall. A white female classmate who was also involved faced a much less severe punishment.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education cited in the report, nationally black girls were suspended six times more than white girls, while black boys were suspended three times as often as white boys.

Data specific to New York and Boston demonstrates that the relative risk for disciplinary action is higher for Black girls when compared to white girls than it is for Black boys when compared to white boys.

● In New York, the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls was more than 10 times more than those involving their white counterparts and the number of cases involving black boys was six times the number of those involving white boys, despite there being only twice as many black students as white students.

● In Boston, the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls was more than 11 times more than those involving their white counterparts while the number of cases involving black boys was approximately eight times those involving white boys, despite there being less than three times as many black students as white students.

● Rates of expulsion were even more strikingly disproportionate between black and white students, especially among girls.

The report recommends policies and interventions to address challenges facing girls of color, including revising policies that funnel girls into juvenile supervision facilities; developing programs that identify signs of sexual victimization and assist girls in addressing traumatic experiences; advancing programs that support girls who are pregnant, parenting, or otherwise assuming significant familial responsibilities; and improving data collection to better track discipline and achievement by race/ethnicity and gender for all groups.

Click  below to access to the report, the executive summary, and a Black Girls Matter: Social Media Guide, which provides images, tweets, and key messages for you to use in promoting the basic point that Black Girls Matter.

Report

http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53f20d90e4b0b80451158d8c/t/54d23be0e4b0bb6a8002fb97/1423064032396/BlackGirlsMatter_Report.pdf

Executive Summary

http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53f20d90e4b0b80451158d8c/t/54d21c9ee4b0535ab80a10ed/1423056030631/BlackGirlsMatter_ExecutiveSummary.pdf

Social Media Guide

http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53f20d90e4b0b80451158d8c/t/54d24424e4b04f8f824ad42b/1423066148433/BlackGirlsMatter_SocialMediaPacket+%283%29.pdf

http://www.aapf.org/recent/2014/12/coming-soon-blackgirlsmatter-pushed-out-overpoliced-and-underprotected

Suburban normed or middle class youth may dabble in hip-hop culture, but they have a “recovery period.” The “recovery period” for suburban youth means moving from deviant norms, which preclude success into mainstream norms, which often promote success. Suburban children often have parental and peer social pressure to move them to the mainstream. Robert Downey, Jr., the once troubled actor is not necessarily an example of hip-hop culture, but he is an example of the process of “recovery” moving an individual back into the mainstream. Children of color and low-income children often do not get the chance to “recover” and move into mainstream norms. The next movement for them after a suspension or expulsion is often the criminal justice system.

The focus at this point should be how best to address the behavior issues that resulted in the disciplinary action. It is important to contact the district to find out what types of resources are available to assist the student in overcoming their challenges. Many children have behavior problems because they are not in the correct education placement. Often, moving the child to a different education setting is the beginning of dealing with the challenges they face.

See:

Discipline In Schools: What Works and What Doesn’t?

http://www.eduguide.org/article/discipline-in-school-what-works-and-what-doesnt

Education Rights

http://www.childrensrights.ie/content/education-rights

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Boston University Medical Center study: Mobile device use by young children may slow development

2 Feb

Moi has written about the effect of television on the brains of young children. In Television cannot substitute for quality childcare:
Your toddler not only needs food for their body and appropriate physical activity, but you need to nourish their mind and spirit as well.
There are several good articles which explain why you do not want your toddler parked in front of a television several hours each day. Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE has a very good explanation of how television can be used as a resource by distinguishing between television watching and targeting viewing of specific programs designed to enhance learning. In Should Babies and Toddlers Watch Television? http://pregnancy.about.com/od/yourbaby/a/babiesandtv.htm Elizabeth Pantley commented about the effects of young children and television. MSNBC was reporting about toddlers and television in 2004. In the MSNBC report, Watching TV May Hurt Toddlers’ Attention Spans the harmful effects of television viewing on children were discussed. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4664749#.UtNlDbB3tdg Robin Yapp of the Daily Mail reported in the article, Children who watch too much TV may have ‘damaged brain structures. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2537240/Children-watch-TV-damaged-brain-structures.html#ixzz2qFKiwot6

Science Daily reported in the article, Mobile and interactive media use by young children: The good, the bad and the unknown:

While there are many research studies that have found children under the age of 30 months cannot learn from television and videos as well as they can from real-life interactions, there are fewer studies investigating whether this is the case with interactive applications. Early research suggests that interactive media, such as electronic books and learn-to-read applications can be useful in teaching vocabulary and reading comprehension, but only in children preschool-age or older. The potential educational benefits for children under two is questioned, as research on interactive media in this age group is scant, and it is well-known that infants and toddlers learn best through hands-on and face-to-face experiences.

This commentary notes that while mobile device use by children can provide an educational benefit, the use of these devices to distract children during mundane tasks may be detrimental to the social-emotional development of the child. The researchers ask “If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?”

“It has been well-studied that increased television time decreases a child’s development of language and social skills. Mobile media use similarly replaces the amount of time spent engaging in direct human-human interaction,” explained corresponding author Jenny Radesky, MD, clinical instructor in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and a former fellow in pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.
The authors question whether heavy device use during young childhood could interfere with development of empathy, social and problem solving skills that are typically obtained by exploring, unstructured play and interacting with peers. “These devices also may replace the hands-on activities important for the development of sensorimotor and visual-motor skills, which are important for the learning and application of math and science,” added Radesky…. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150130102616.htm

Citation:

Mobile and interactive media use by young children: The good, the bad and the unknown
Date: January 30, 2015

Source: Boston University Medical Center
Summary:
Mobile devices are everywhere and children are using them more frequently at young ages. The impact these mobile devices are having on the development and behavior of children is still relatively unknown. Researchers review the many types of interactive media available today and raise important questions regarding their use as educational tools, as well as their potential detrimental role in stunting the development of important tools for self-regulation.

Journal Reference:
1. J. S. Radesky, J. Schumacher, B. Zuckerman. Mobile and Interactive Media Use by Young Children: The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown. PEDIATRICS, 2014; 135 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2014-2251

Here is the press release from Boston University Medical Center:

Public Release: 30-Jan-2015 Mobile and interactive media use by young children: The good, the bad and the unknown
Boston University Medical Center
(Boston) -Mobile devices are everywhere and children are using them more frequently at young ages. The impact these mobile devices are having on the development and behavior of children is still relatively unknown. In a commentary in the journal Pediatrics, researchers review the many types of interactive media available today and raise important questions regarding their use as educational tools, as well as their potential detrimental role in stunting the development of important tools for self-regulation.
While there are many research studies that have found children under the age of 30 months cannot learn from television and videos as well as they can from real-life interactions, there are fewer studies investigating whether this is the case with interactive applications. Early research suggests that interactive media, such as electronic books and learn-to-read applications can be useful in teaching vocabulary and reading comprehension, but only in children preschool-age or older. The potential educational benefits for children under two is questioned, as research on interactive media in this age group is scant, and it is well-known that infants and toddlers learn best through hands-on and face-to-face experiences.
This commentary notes that while mobile device use by children can provide an educational benefit, the use of these devices to distract children during mundane tasks may be detrimental to the social-emotional development of the child. The researchers ask “If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?”
“It has been well-studied that increased television time decreases a child’s development of language and social skills. Mobile media use similarly replaces the amount of time spent engaging in direct human-human interaction,” explained corresponding author Jenny Radesky, MD, clinical instructor in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and a former fellow in pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.
The authors question whether heavy device use during young childhood could interfere with development of empathy, social and problem solving skills that are typically obtained by exploring, unstructured play and interacting with peers. “These devices also may replace the hands-on activities important for the development of sensorimotor and visual-motor skills, which are important for the learning and application of math and science,” added Radesky.
While much remains unknown, the authors recommend that parents try each application before allowing their children to access it. Parents are also encouraged to use these applications with their children, as using interactive media together enhances its educational value. “At this time, there are more questions than answers when it comes to mobile media. Until more is known about its impact on child development quality family time is encouraged, either through unplugged family time, or a designated family hour,” added Radesky.
###
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-01/bumc-mai013015.php

See, How to Have a Happier, Healthier, Smarter Baby http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/childrens-health/articles/2010/10/19/how-to-have-a-happier-healthier-smarter-baby

Parents must interact with their children and read to them. Television is not a parental substitute. Mobile and Interactive devices are also not babysitters and can’t be used to simply distract children.

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Should states make the GED a high school diploma?

1 Feb

There are a variety of reasons why people fail to complete high school and fail complete their high school education. Kate Convissor lists the following reasons in the EduGuide article, Why Kids Drop Out of School:

While the reasons kids drop out vary, the following are six important risk factors:
1. Academic difficulty and failure. Struggling in school and failing classes is one of the main reasons teens drop out, and this pattern often shows up early. Students who fail eighth grade English or math, for example, are seventy-five percent more likely to drop out of high school.
2. Poor attendance. Teens who struggle in school are also absent a lot, and along with academic failure, absenteeism is an important future predictor for dropping out. As with the previous example, students who are absent for twenty percent of their eighth grade year (one day per week) are also highly likely to drop out in high school.
3. Being held back (retention). Linked to academic difficulty, students who are held back and who are older than the kids in their grade also tend to drop out.
4. Disengagement from school. Many kids who drop out say that school was boring and teachers did little to connect learning to real life. They didn’t feel invested in their school and they didn’t feel that adults seemed interested in them or their high school experience.
5. Transition to a new school. A poor transition from the smaller, more protected environment of middle school to the anonymity of a high school can cause a teen to have difficulty catching up-and some kids never do.
6. Other life factors. Pregnancy, family problems, and financial difficulties are all factors that distract a student from schoolwork and make keeping up more challenging.

http://www.eduguide.org/library/viewarticle/2132/

Because many entry level jobs require at a minimum a high school diploma, the General Education Development Test or GED is often substituted for the high school diploma to show that an individual has reached a basic level of education achievement.

The Best Schools reported in High School Diplomas versus the GED:

Many indicators soundly show that holders of the GED fall behind their diploma-holding counterparts. The following are a few examples concerning future outcome differences:
• High school graduates earn, on average, about $1,600 a month more than those with a GED (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012).
• Less than 5% of those with a GED receive a bachelor’s degree, compared to the 33% of those with diplomas that do (U.S. Census Bureau), which is supported by several studies showing that high school graduates are more prepared for college and score higher on placement tests than holders of the GED (National Bureau of Economic Research).
• 77% of GED holders do not continue past the first semester of college (American Council of Education study ).
• The military limits the number of accepted and requires higher scores on aptitude test for GED holders, because the military service dropout rates for GED holders is 45% compared to 24% for high school graduates.
The stigma connected with GED holders is not present for diploma holders, and that is the stigma of being a dropout, of lacking persistence, or of taking short cuts. This accounts partly for the large difference in wages between the two groups. Plus, many institutions view the robust education gained by years spent full-time in school cannot be garnered by the taking of a day-long test, nor indicated by it…. Maryland has offered diplomas to GED graduates for decades. Virginia gives GED recipients a certificate. http://www.thebestschools.org/degrees/high-school-diplomas-versus-ged/

Some school districts and states are moving toward issuing a high school diploma upon completion of a GED.

Michael Alison Chandler reported in the Washington Post article, D.C. explores widening the road to earning a high school diploma:

The proposed regulations by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) would remove the standard “Carnegie unit” — 120 hours of instruction, representing an hour a day, five days a week, for 24 weeks — upon which high school credit is based.
Instead, starting next school year, students would have multiple ways to earn credit, including passing a state-approved test or participating in a “course equivalent,” such as an internship, community-service project, portfolio or performance that can be tied to the academic standards. Another proposal would create a “state diploma” that would go to students who pass the GED any time after January 2014…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-seeks-flexibility-in-granting-high-school-diplomas/2014/12/14/814816a6-7fa0-11e4-81fd-8c4814dfa9d7_story.html

D.C. is not the only area looking for alternatives to the high school diploma.

MaryLynn Schiavi reported in Program makes it easy to get a high school diploma:

A pilot program launched in October 2014 is blazing a new trail for students of all ages and redefining the role of public libraries throughout the state. The Career Online High School (COHS) program is offering residents a free and convenient way to earn a high school diploma and other credentialed certificates through self-paced online courses under the guidance of an assigned coach. Students are expected to complete the program within 18 months.
“This innovative project is the latest step in the transformation of public libraries in the digital age into full-fledged community resources,” said Mary Chute, New Jersey state librarian…. http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2015/02/01/road-high-school-diploma/22589769/

It is important not only for a particular individual, but the economy for individuals to get a high school diploma. The question is whether a GED might open employment doors for some who have failed to complete their high school education. There are a variety of reasons why people fail to complete high school and fail complete their high school education, According to the July 24, 2011 NPR report, School Dropout Rates Add To Fiscal Burden by Claudio Sanchez and Linda Wertheimer, “Nearly 1 million kids who start high school every year don’t make it to graduation.” http://www.npr.org/2011/07/24/138653393/school-dropout-rates-adds-to-fiscal-burden See, More Than Half Of Older High School Dropouts Not Employed Today http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/high-school-dropouts-unemployment_n_1291210.html?ref=education&ir=Education Anything that states and school districts can do to broaden the opportunity to complete high school is useful.

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University of Buffalo study: Phonics is a useful tool in learning

30 Jan

PBS Parents has a very good primer on phonics:

What is phonics?
Phonics is simply the system of relationships between letters and sounds in a language. When your kindergartener learns that the letter B has the sound of /b/ and your second-grader learns that “tion” sounds like /shun/, they are learning phonics.

Why is phonics important?
Learning phonics will help your children learn to read and spell. Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of letters and letter combinations will help your child decode words as he reads. Knowing phonics will also help your child know which letters to use as he writes words.

When is phonics usually taught?
Your child will probably learn phonics in kindergarten through second grade. In kindergarten, children usually learn the sounds of the consonant letters (all letters except the vowels a, e, i, o, and u). First- and second-graders typically learn all the sounds of letters, letter combinations, and word parts (such as “ing” and “ed”). They practice reading and spelling words containing those letters and patterns. Second-graders typically review and practice the phonics skills they have learned to make spelling and reading smooth and automatic…. http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/reading-language/reading-tips/phonics-basics/

See, Phonics Instruction http://www.readingrockets.org/article/phonics-instruction and Understanding Phonics http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/understand-phonics

Science Daily reported in Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention:

A neuroimaging study by a University at Buffalo psychologist suggests that phonics, a method of learning to read using knowledge of word sounds, shouldn’t be overlooked in favor of a whole-language technique that focuses on visually memorizing word patterns, a finding that could help improve treatment and diagnosis of common reading disorders such as dyslexia.

“Phonological information is critical for helping identify words as they’re being read,” says Chris McNorgan, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, whose study, “Skill dependent audiovisual integration in the fusiform induces repetition suppression,” used MRI scans to observe how parts of the brain responded to audio and visual word cues. The results are published in the most recent edition of Brain & Language.

A better reader is someone whose visual processing is more sensitive to audio information, according to the study’s results.

“There are applications here not just for reading disorders, but also for how children are taught to read in the classroom,” he says.

Barring injury, McNorgan says, all parts of the brain are working at all times, contrary to the myth that it functions at only a fraction of its capacity. However, different parts of the brain are specialized for different types of activities that trigger some regions to work harder than others.
With reading, the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) is excited when it encounters familiar letter combinations. But most activities require communication between different brain regions and coordination with sensory systems, like an outfielder watching a baseball while the brain programs the motor system to catch it…..
Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150128141425.htm

Citation:

Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention
Date: January 28, 2015

Source: University at Buffalo
Summary:
A neuroimaging study by psychologist suggests that phonics shouldn’t be overlooked in favor of a whole-language technique, a finding that could help improve treatment and diagnosis of common reading disorders.
Brain Lang. 2015 Feb;141:110-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2014.12.002. Epub 2015 Jan 9.
Skill dependent audiovisual integration in the fusiform induces repetition suppression.
McNorgan C1, Booth JR2.
Author information
Abstract
Learning to read entails mapping existing phonological representations to novel orthographic representations and is thus an ideal context for investigating experience driven audiovisual integration. Because two dominant brain-based theories of reading development hinge on the sensitivity of the visual-object processing stream to phonological information, we were interested in how reading skill relates to audiovisual integration in this area. Thirty-two children between 8 and 13years of age spanning a range of reading skill participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment. Participants completed a rhyme judgment task to word pairs presented unimodally (auditory- or visual-only) and cross-modally (auditory followed by visual). Skill-dependent sub-additive audiovisual modulation was found in left fusiform gyrus, extending into the putative visual word form area, and was correlated with behavioral orthographic priming. These results suggest learning to read promotes facilitatory audiovisual integration in the ventral visual-object processing stream and may optimize this region for orthographic processing.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Here is the press release from the University of Buffalo:

Press Release
Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention

UB researcher’s findings point to the value of word sounds over visual processing during reading instruction or when diagnosing and treating reading disorders
By Bert Gambini
Release Date: January 26, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A neuroimaging study by a University at Buffalo psychologist suggests that phonics, a method of learning to read using knowledge of word sounds, shouldn’t be overlooked in favor of a whole-language technique that focuses on visually memorizing word patterns, a finding that could help improve treatment and diagnosis of common reading disorders such as dyslexia.

“Phonological information is critical for helping identify words as they’re being read,” says Chris McNorgan, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, whose study, “Skill dependent audiovisual integration in the fusiform induces repetition suppression,” used MRI scans to observe how parts of the brain responded to audio and visual word cues. The results are published in the most recent edition of Brain & Language.

A better reader is someone whose visual processing is more sensitive to audio information, according to the study’s results.

“There are applications here not just for reading disorders, but also for how children are taught to read in the classroom,” he says.

Barring injury, McNorgan says, all parts of the brain are working at all times, contrary to the myth that it functions at only a fraction of its capacity. However, different parts of the brain are specialized for different types of activities that trigger some regions to work harder than others.

With reading, the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) is excited when it encounters familiar letter combinations. But most activities require communication between different brain regions and coordination with sensory systems, like an outfielder watching a baseball while the brain programs the motor system to catch it.

How this communication happens while reading – which requires visual and auditory knowledge – and to what extent is less clear. So McNorgan’s study looked for what’s known as top-down influence of auditory knowledge in the VWFA.

Think of a bottom-up process as a flow of information that begins with the visual system feeding neurons that detect basic features in words such as line orientation that eventually leads to word recognition. A top-down process implies that some other information enters that flow of visual recognition – information like the knowledge of the word sounds.

“This auditory knowledge can be used to help rule out some letter combinations. For example, many words end in ISK or ASK. For a few milliseconds there may be some ambiguity among the neurons trying to figure out whether that last letter is a K or an X,” said McNorgan. “Since you don’t have any words ending in ISX in your verbal repertoire, this helps rule out the possibility that you read the word DISX and instead read the word as DISK.”

To find evidence of this top-down input, researchers presented subjects with wide ranges of reading abilities between the ages of 8 and 13 with word pairs. The subjects had to determine if the words rhymed while an MRI scanner monitored their brain activity.

The experiment used three sets of conditions when presenting the word pairs: subjects first read the word pairs (visual-only); then heard the word pairs (auditory-only); and lastly, a combination of sight and sound, hearing the first word but reading the second (audio-visual). The MRI scanner determined which parts of the brain were most active during each condition by displaying a three dimensional representation of the brain, made up of what look like a series of cubes, called voxels.

“Think of the voxels as LEGOS assembled together to make a 3D model of the brain. Each cube has a measurement of activation strength that allows us to understand of what’s happening in each area under all three of the conditions,” said McNorgan.

The resulting images, he said, comprise something like a movie reel, with approximately one frame passing every two seconds. Signal strength is then measured in each voxel under all the condition across all the snapshots in time.

“Looking at the voxels in a particular brain area, if the signal strengths associated with two different conditions differ, then you have some evidence that brain area processes information about the two conditions differently,” says McNorgan.

To make sense of the results through all the conditions, researchers take the sum of the auditory-only and visual-only signals and compare that to the strength of the audio-visual condition. This helps them distinguish between multisensory sensory neurons, which become excited by audio-visual information, and collections of heterogeneous unisensory neurons, a mix of visual-only and auditory-only that respond excitedly to one or the other.

“If the audio-visual response is greater than the sum of the auditory-only and the visual-only, this suggests that getting both types of inputs causes these neurons to fire for longer periods of time. This is a superadditive effect,” says McNorgan. “An audio-visual response less than that sum suggests that getting both types of inputs causes these neurons to fire for less time. This is a subadditive effect.”
This subadditivity is associated with higher reading scores and faster responses to similarly spelled words, the reading equivalent to having a head start in a race.

“As you learn how to read, your brain starts to make more use of top-down information about the sounds of letter combinations in order to recognize them as parts of words,” says McNorgan. “This information gives your word-recognition system a leg-up, allowing it to respond more quickly. The multisensory neurons are getting the job done sooner, so they don’t need to fire for as long. Better readers seem to have more of these neurons taking advantage of auditory information to help the visual word recognition system along.”

Early intervention and basic instruction would counterintuitively involve this auditory information, “thinking more about the sounds of different words instead of concentrating on recognizing words,” says McNorgan.
Media Contact Information
Bert Gambini
News Content Manager, Economics, Media Study and Psychology
Tel: 716-645-5334
gambini@buffalo.edu
– See more at: Concentrating on word sounds helps reading instruction and intervention – University at Buffalo

http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/01/028.html

This study shows that there are many things to be learned about how to effectively teach reading skills to those who are struggling.

Related:

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum

http://drwilda.com/2012/01/24/the-importance-of-the-skill-of-handwriting-in-the-school-curriculum/

The slow reading movement

http://drwilda.com/2012/01/31/the-slow-reading-movement/

Why libraries in K-12 schools are important

http://drwilda.com/2012/12/26/why-libraries-in-k-12-schools-are-important/

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