Archive | February, 2012

3rd world America: More college students using food banks

29 Feb

One of the best discussions of the types of support needed by some students to complete their education is a February 19, 2010 opinion piece at the Olympia Newswire by Sarah Reyneveld, Vice-President of the University of Washington (UW) Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS), and Jono Hanks,Director of the Office of Government Relations for the Associated Students of University Washington (ASUW) In Op Ed: Governor’s Proposed Budget Imperils State Need Grants, Could Push College Education Out of the Reach of Reach Reyneveld and Hanks write about many programs. The National Policy Center has an excellent policy brief, Policy Brief #19, about why it is taking so many young adults longer to transition to adulthood.


Between 1960 and 2004, the median age at first marriage in the U.S. had risen from about 20 to 26 for women, and from 23 to 27 for men. The gender age gap in first marriage has never been smaller.

Between 1969 and 2004, young women entered the labor force in increasing numbers and worked more hours. As a result, there was a dramatic decrease—from roughly 80% to less than 50%—in the percentage of women in their early 30s earning less than the federal poverty line for a family of four. The news is not so good for men. In 1969 only about 10% of men in their early 30s earned this little, but in 2004 nearly a quarter did.

Though more students are graduating from college, it is taking them longer to do so. Among high school graduates born in 1950, 15% had received bachelor’s degree by the age of 22; among those born in 1970, only 12% had. By the age of 28, however, 28% of those born in 1970 had graduated, compared to 25% of those born in 1950.

The high cost of housing and high rates of debt are often cited as reasons today’s young people are having trouble establishing independence. However, the debt to net-worth ratio for young adults remained at 0.57 in both 1963 and 2001, and inflation adjusted median monthly rents increased by only $15 between 1980 and 2000.

That young adults are taking longer to transition from parental dependence to economic self-sufficiency is not just an American phenomenon. The same trend has occurred in many other industrialized countries.

See, Evergreen State College’s students living below the poverty line

Lindsey Powers writes in the USA Today article, Campus food banks help students through tough times:

Oregon State is one of a growing number of colleges and universities nationwide that have a food pantry on campus for students and others struggling to get enough food and supplies.

The pantries offer food and supplies, from cereal to meats to produce to toiletries, as well as a feeling of camaraderie and dignity, according to pantry staff members and volunteers.

Tennessee State and Austin Peay State universities in Tennessee, the University of Arkansas, the University of Georgia and Utah Valley University are among the schools to establish food pantries in the past year.

Angela Oxford, director of the University of Arkansas’ Center for Community Engagement, says she estimates there currently are about 25 universities and colleges that have campus food pantries.

“We’ve been contacted by at least 10 different campuses in the last year” about how to start a food pantry, Oxford says.

Daniel Farcas, a doctoral student at West Virginia University, says he visits the university’s pantry about once a week, most often for diapers and occasionally for food. Farcas says he didn’t know about the pantry before he became a parent…

“There is no typical student who accesses the food pantry,” she says.

Feeding America, a hunger-relief organization and national network of food banks, has seen an increase of people across many demographic categories who lack consistent access to an adequate amount of healthy food, according to Ross Fraser, the organization’s director of media relations….

Furthermore, full-time students are usually not eligible to receive food stamps under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to Brady Koch, director of SNAP outreach at Feeding America.

According to the most recent data, Feeding America served 37 million people in 2009, up from 25 million in 2005, through its emergency food centers, which include soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters, says Fraser, citing the organization’s “Hunger in America” studies.

Some campus pantries, such as those at West Virginia University and Michigan State University, have purchased items from food banks that are Feeding America members, according to pantry staff members.

Julia Lyon, a student volunteer and chairwoman of the University of Arkansas’ pantry, says that while the number of students struggling with hunger is “something that’s kind of under the radar,” it’s clearly a problem on campus. Since it opened in February 2011, the pantry has met more than 800 requests for food and supplies from students and staff members, Lyon says.

At Michigan State, the food pantry has seen the effects of the tough economic times, says Nate Smith-Tyge, a doctoral student and the pantry’s director.

The pantry, established in 1993, saw a spike in users in the 2005-06 academic year, and the number remains relatively high, he says, with about 200 to 300 people served every other Wednesday.

Both on- and off-campus donations help fill the shelves in addition to items purchased or otherwise collected, according to pantry volunteers and staff members….

Many of the pantries emphasize discretion and aim to make what could be an embarrassing and difficult experience as comfortable as possible. Having students serving other students, Lyon says, helps make the pantry less intimidating.

“We’re overcoming the element of embarrassment more than logistics,” Lyon says.

Daniel de Vise has a great article in the Washington Post, 25 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College which reports online information from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. As the cost of college continues to rise, more and more college students will be heading for their local food bank.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

The search for quality teachers goes on

28 Feb

Moi received the press release about improving teacher training standards from the Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting which is an outgrowth of he Teacher Education Accreditation Council, or TEAC, and the far larger and older National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, or NCATE now called CAEP. Trip Gabriel has an article in the New York Times,Teachers Colleges Upset By Plans to Grade Them about the coming U.S. News Report on teacher colleges. This project is being underwritten in part by the Carnegie Corporation and Broad Foundation. A test of the proposed project was completed in Illinois. You can go here to get a copy of the report. The National Council on Teacher Quality has information about the project at their site.

Stephen Sawchuck is reporting in the Education Week article, Teacher-Prep Accreditor Names Standards-Setting Panel:

An external panel that includes several prominent critics of teacher education has been tapped to craft the performance standards for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the new organization’s leaders announced last week.

Among the standards under consideration: how programs ensure that candidates know their content; the programs’ ability to recruit an academically strong pool of candidates; their success in training teachers to use assessment data effectively; and the performance of their graduates in classrooms….

CAEP was created in late 2010 by the merger of two separate accreditors, the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, or TEAC, and the far larger and older National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, or NCATE. Both will operate until the merger is completed by the end of this year.

The commission tapped to write the new body’s standards will be chaired by Camilla Benbow, the dean of education and human development at Vanderbilt University, and Gene Harris, the superintendent of the Columbus, Ohio, public schools.

It is arguably a more diverse group than those currently serving in the governance structure of either of the preceding accrediting bodies. At press time, CAEP officials had confirmed 28 panelists on the commission and were working to secure several more—including individuals representing nontraditional preparation programs such as Teach For America and district-operated “residency” programs.

Its members also include math and reading scholars and two state education commissioners, along with a more traditional roster of teacher-educators.

Here is the committee roster:

Commission Members

These individuals have been confirmed as members of the CAEP Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting. More appointments are expected.

Camilla Benbow
Dean of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Peabody college

Gene Harris
Superintendent/CEO, Columbus, Ohio, Public Schools

Donna Wiseman
Dean, College of Education, University of Maryland

Patricia Manzanares-Gonzales
Dean, School of Education, Western New Mexico University

Susan Fuhrman
President, Teachers College, Columbia University

Rick Ginsberg
Dean, University of Kansas, School of Education

Tina Marshall Bradley
Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs, Paine College

David Steiner
Dean, Hunter College

Mary Brabeck
Dean, School of Education, New York University

Richard DeLisi
Dean and Professor, Rutgers University

Kurt Geisinger
Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska

Julie Underwood
Dean, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Susan Neuman
Professor in Educational Studies, Michigan State University, School of Education

Francis M. “Skip” Fennell
Professor of Education, McDaniels College, Md.

Jill Lederhause
Professor of Education, Wheaton College, Ill.

Paul Lingenfelter
President, State Higher Education, Executive Officers

Terry Holliday
Commissioner of Education, Kentucky Department of Education

Christopher Koch
State Superintendent, Illinois State Board of Education

Arthur E. Levine
President, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Jennifer Stern
Executive Director, Janus Education Alliance, Denver Public Schools

Andrés Alonso
Chief Executive Officer, Baltimore Public Schools

Randi Weingarten
President, American Federation of Teachers

Rebecca Pringle
Secretary/Treasurer, National Education Association

Gail Connelly
Executive Director, National Association of Elementary School Principals

JoAnn Bartoletti
Executive Director, National Association of Secondary School Principals

Thomas W. Payzant
Professor of Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Jim Kohlmoos
Executive Director, National Association of State Boards of Education

Melissa Erickson
Parent Leader, Hillsborough, Fla., Public Schools

SOURCE: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

According to to the press release of CAEP:

The Commission is taking the recommendations of a Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning to the next level. The Panel’s report, released a year ago, said it was time to “turn teacher education upside-down.” That Panel urged increased oversight and expectations for educator preparation and the expansion of new delivery models in which teacher candidates work more directly in clinically based settings from the beginning of their preparation as in medical education. The panel also called for preparation programs to operate in new types of partnerships between higher education and P-12 schools in which both systems share responsibility for preparation.

Strong Accountability Tied to New Data Systems, Assessments

The development of longitudinal data systems and of a new generation of performance assessments will dramatically improve the quantity and quality of evidence of student and teacher performance, allowing programs to study the impact of graduates on student outcomes within the accreditation process. New, more robust assessments, such as the TPA (Teacher Performance Assessment) being pilot tested in more than 25 states, and tools such as observational protocols and student feedback, will help identify effective teaching practices. Information from these assessments will inform preparation programs and will provide new data points previously unavailable….

CAEP will work with both states and individual institutions to help build their capacity to collect, analyze, and act on this data. By helping preparation programs learn how to use such data for internal improvement, CAEP can both address the need for accountability and help institutions improve. The development of the evidentiary base that CAEP will promote will help further define successful practice and foster transformation of educator preparation programs so that graduates can help improve all dimensions of P-12 student learning.

Through the development of the new standards and accompanying processes, CAEP’s quality assurance system will be characterized by the accreditor’s dual mission of accountability and improvement. CAEP’s decision-making will be transparent and will clearly recognize the qualities that matter in programs.

CAEP believes that all educator preparation providers should be subject to the same high standards of quality. To make this possible, one of the tasks of the Commission is to ensure accreditation standards are appropriate for all preparation providers. In the past, accreditation standards have been geared specifically to higher education institutions.

“To ensure the quality of teacher education the nation needs, accreditation must be bold and go beyond do no-harm measures to ensure excellence, said Arthur Levine, president, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, a CAEP board member, and a member of the standards commission. “Satisfactory performance just isn’t satisfactory anymore. If we do our work properly, preparation providers will demonstrate that they meet higher standards; our expectation is that they will be able to demonstrate their impact through evidence of candidate and graduate performance.”

Support in helping to underwrite the costs of the Commission is provided by Tk20, Inc., Pearson, and Educational Testing Service (ETS). Tk20, Inc. and ETS are providing support for Commission meetings, and Pearson is providing support for outreach.

For more information, see CAEP Updates at www.ncate.orgor and also; and

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, to become operational in 2013, will accredit over 900 teacher education institutions across the nation, producing approximately 175,000 graduates annually.

Everyone is searching for the magic formula to produce a bumper crop of quality teachers.


The attempt to evaluate teacher colleges is getting nasty

Could newest teaching strategy be made in Japan?

New Harvard study about impact of teachers

Is it true that the dumbest become teachers?

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children

27 Feb

Pamela Paul has a fascinating article in the New York Times about preschoolers and depression. In the article, Can Preschoolers Be Depressed? Paul does a great job of describing what depression looks like in small children and reporting about nascent research efforts by various universities.     

How Common Is Depression In Children?  

According to Mary H. Sarafolean, PhD in the article, Depression In School Age Children and Adolescents

In general, depression affects a person’s physical,  cognitive, emotional/affective, and motivational well-being, no matter  their age. For example, a child with depression between the ages of 6 and 12 may exhibit fatigue, difficulty with schoolwork, apathy and/or a lack of motivation. An adolescent or teen may be oversleeping, socially isolated, acting out in
self-destructive ways and/or have a sense of hopelessness. (See table 1.)    

Prevalence and Risk Factors             

While only 2 percent of pre-teen school-age children and 3-5 percent of teenagers have clinical depression, it is the most common diagnosis of children in a clinical setting (40-50 percent of diagnoses). The lifetime risk  of depression in females is 10-25 percent and in males, 5-12 percent. Children and teens who are considered at high risk for depression disorders include:

* children referred to a mental health provider for school problems
* children with medical problems
* gay and lesbian adolescents
* rural vs. urban adolescents
* incarcerated adolescents
* pregnant adolescents
* children with a family history of depression    

If you or your child has one or more of the risk factors and your child is exhibiting symptoms of prolonged sadness, it might be wise to have your child evaluated for depression. Because many children exhibit symptoms of depression, schools are increasingly forced to deal with depressed children.

Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University wrote the article, School psychologists: Shortage amid increased need which discusses the need for psychological support in schools.

The adolescent suicide rate continues to rise, with each suicide a dramatic reminder that the lives of a significant number of adolescents are filled with anxiety and stress. Most schools have more than a handful of kids wrestling with significant emotional problems, and schools at all levels face an ongoing challenge related to school violence and bullying, both physical and emotional.

Yet in many schools there is inadequate professional psychological support for students.

Although statistics indicate that there is a significant variation from state to state (between 2005- and 2011 the ratio of students per school psychologist in New Mexico increased by 180%, while in the same period the ratio decreased in Utah by 34%), the overall ratio is 457:1. That is almost twice that recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

THE NASP noted a shortage of almost 9,000 school psychologists in 2010 and projected a cumulative shortage of close to 15,000 by 2020. Mental Health America estimates that only 1 in 5 children in need of mental health services actually receive the needed services. These gross statistics also omit the special need of under funded schools and the increased roles school psychologists are being asked to play.

This problem, for the most part, is not one of commitment or values. Most school leaders recognize the problem and want to effectively address it, but they report that most of the counseling support services they have are for testing and helping kids with special emotional and/or learning problems. Even this is inadequate, with the psychologist available only a day or two each week.

In the best-funded districts, there is more full-time psychological counseling available for students. Yet, even in these districts, principals indicate that they have more students who need help with stress management than the existing counseling services can provide.

The problems extend beyond inadequate support services. School advisories — when a group of students meet with a teacher for advisory help — are supposed to provide psychological support but rarely do. Most students I’ve spoken with perceive advisories as a time for academic help but not a place they can go to deal with personal problems. Few schools are able to offer the training that teachers need to be able to provide that kind of support. Even those schools that have sponsored a program like Challenge Day, which provides an opportunity for students to openly discuss their individual struggles, rarely have a sustained follow-up program in place.

A bill was introduced in Congress last November that would provide some alleviation of this problem in lower income areas. H.R. 3405 is the Increased Student Achievement Through Increased Student Support Act. It would provide grants to partnerships between schools and low- income local educational agencies to improve the ratio of school counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Although limited in focus, it is at least a start. The bill was sent to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and has still not been acted on by the Committee.

Even with the psychological services that should be provided and often aren’t, schools can’t fully prevent suicides, acts of violence, bullying, or the daily stresses that weigh on kids shoulders. The malaise runs deeper and broader.

Still schools need more resources than they receive in order to provide more programs that actively identify and counsel those kids that need help. At the very least, they need to alleviate some of the stress these kids are experiencing and to help improve the quality of their daily lives.

It is important to deal with the psychological needs of children because untreated depression can lead to suicide.

Why Do Teens Attempt Suicide? 

The American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry has some excellent suicide resources 

Suicides among young people continue to be a serious problem. Each year in the U.S., thousands of teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds.

Teenagers experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, and other fears while growing up. For some teenagers, divorce, the formation of a new family with step-parents and step-siblings, or moving to a new community can be very unsettling and can intensify self-doubts. For some teens, suicide may appear to be a solution to their problems and stress.  

Sometimes, people see suicide as an answer to their problems. All of us must stress that suicide is always the WRONG answer to what in all likelihood is a transitory situation.  

What are the Warning Signs of Suicide? 

According to Teen’s Health there are some suicide warning signs 

Warning Signs

There are often signs that someone may be thinking about or planning a suicide attempt. Here are some of them:

talking about suicide or death in general

talking about “going away”

referring to things they “won’t be needing,” and giving away possessions

talking about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty

pulling away from friends or family and losing the desire to go out

having no desire to take part in favorite things or activities

having trouble concentrating or thinking clearly

experiencing changes in eating or sleeping habits

engaging in self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or cutting, for example) 

These are signs that indicate a person may be depressed. 

According to Jared the primary cause of suicide is depression. 


It can be very hard to diagnose depression.  There are many different kinds of depression and not all people will have the same symptoms, or have them to the same degree.  Here are some symptoms to watch for and if they last more than a few weeks, a doctor or psychiatrist should be consulted. 

Persistent sad or “empty” mood

Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless

pessimistic and or guilty

Substance abuse

Fatigued or loss of interest in ordinary activities

Disturbances in eating and sleeping patterns

Irritability, increased crying, anxiety and panic attacks, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions

Thoughts of suicide; suicide plans or attempts

Persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not respond to treatment 

The site also lists events that might trigger depression in a person. 

A death of a family member or close friend – which could include a fellow student from school

An assault, car accident or painful physical event – which could include physical bullying

Mental, or emotional event – which could include non-physical bullying

Marriage breakup, or love lost suddenly – which could include “breaking up” with a girlfriend or boyfriend

Constant physical, mental, or emotional pain that goes on for a length of time – which includes constant bullying that is not intervened, resolved or stopped entirely

Major Financial setback – which includes a teenager who may have lost a job

Something “embarrassing” happens – as an example; getting kicked off a football team or a public insult by a teacher or popular student; bullying

Failing an important exam a school – not a normal trigger unless the exam was life changing and the individual is under a lot of stress

A best friend moves out of town – especially true for teenagers who are being bullied and have very few friends as it is 

If you notice these signs, the key is to get help for yourself or a friend. 

What Should You Do if You Know Someone Who Thinking About Suicide? 

If you are thinking of suicide or you know someone who is thinking about suicide, GET HELP, NOW!!!! The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has some excellent advice about suicide prevention If you or your child needs help for depression or another illness, then go to a reputable medical provider. There is nothing wrong with taking the steps necessary to get well.” That statement should be clarified to make it perfectly clear that appropriate medical care may include a second, third or more medical opinions if necessary.


Teen’s Health’s Suicide

American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Teen Depression

Jared Story.Com

CNN Report about suicide

Dr. Wilda says this about ©

Scary study about what happens to for-profit college graduates

26 Feb

We are in a periodic of extreme economic dislocation and people are retraining and starting businesses in an attempt to put themselves in a better economic position. Because of the economic uncertainty, may are willing to try almost anything to survive. Beware, some choices can leave people in a worse position.

The Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) has produced a truly scary study about what happens to the graduates of for-profit colleges. According to the press release for the study, For-Profit College Students Less Likely to Be Employed After Graduation and Have Lower Earnings, New Study Finds :

Students who attend for-profit colleges are less likely to be employed and have lower earnings six years after enrolling than similar students who attend public and not-for-profit colleges, according to a new study by authors affiliated with the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE). They also carry heavier debt burdens and are more likely to default on their student loans.

Over the past decades, for-profit colleges have experienced explosive growth in enrollment, with numbers increasing from 18,333 in 1970 to 1.85 million in 2009. Currently, for profit students make up 13 percent of all college attendees, up from 5 percent in 2001.

However, until now, student outcomes for these institutions have been poorly understood, not least because the students they serve are not always analogous to those who attend public and non-profit colleges. The analysis found that for-profit colleges serve a larger fraction of students who tend to struggle in college: minority, older, and independent students who are disproportionately single parents, have lower family incomes and are twice as likely to have a GED.

To ensure comparable results, the study—which used data from the 2004 to 2009 Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) longitudinal survey—controlled for observable student characteristics such as income, age and ethnicity. The analysis indicated that students who attend for-profit schools are more likely to persist through their first year and to earn certificates and associate degrees than their counterparts at community colleges. However, despite these higher completion rates, for-profit students are more likely to experience long term unemployment and report less satisfaction with their education in the six years after they enroll.

The poor employment and earning outcomes of for-profit students may explain their high rates of loan defaults. Currently, 26 percent of all federal student aid goes to for-profit tuition, making up three quarters of the sector’s revenue. The researchers found that almost 25 percent of for-profit students default on their loans within three years. This rate is 10.5 percent higher than that of similar students who attend public or non-profit institutions and accounts for almost half of all student loan defaults.

See, Study: For-Profit Colleges Offer Weak Job Prospects, Pay

Here is the citation:

The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators? (A CAPSEE Working Paper)

By: David Deming, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence F. Katz| February 2012

Download the paper: The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?

Press release:For-Profit College Students Less Likely to Be Employed After Graduation and Have Lower Earnings, New Study Finds

Journal article:This study also appears in the winter 2012 issue of Journal of Economic Perspectives.

CAPSEE project: Project 6: The Role of the For-Profit Sector in Higher Education

The conclusions of this report have been echoed in prior reports.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) produced a report which details just how far from bargains some for-profit schools are. According to the article, GAO: 15 For-profit Colleges Used Deceptive Recruiting Tactics written by Daniel de Vise and Paul Kane some for-profit schools used deceptive practices to recruit students. Tamar Lewin reported in the New York Times that Report Finds Low Graduation Rates at For-profit Colleges With any education opportunity, the prospective student and their family must do their homework and weigh the pros and cons of the institution with with the student’s goals and objectives. See, Report Faults For-profit Colleges As Providers of ‘Subprime Opportunity’

Victor Hugo said it best when dealing with many for-profit colleges:           

Caution is the eldest child of wisdom
~Victor Hugo


Buyer beware of some for-profit colleges

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

More prospective college students getting deferral letters

25 Feb

Many parents and students spend the junior and senior years of the child’s high school education preparing for the child’s entrance into hopefully, the college of their choice. Kristina Dell has a great article at the Daily Beast, 10 College Admission Trends about the difficulties students will encounter when applying to college. So, students and families applying to colleges will have to apply to more schools. College.Com  has some great suggestions for a good campus tour For many families, the expense of a college tour is very difficult considering they are having a difficult time even affording college. Kiplinger has some good suggestions about how to keep costs in check in the article Make The Most of A Campus Tour Many families cannot afford the costs of going to college out of their area, so they will be considering community colleges and colleges close to their home. See, College Tour Checklist, What to Look For

The College Board has a checklist for the college bound:

The Application

Parents and students can meet all the deadlines, complete all the forms, and provide all the supporting documentation required and still not be admitted to the college of their choice. Increasingly, students are being put on deferral lists.

Eli Clarke, Associate Director of counseling, private high school, Washington DC wrote the article, What Does it Mean to be Waitlisted or Deferred?

Being deferred can mean a wide variety of things. In most cases, the college has not completed its review of your file and is “deferring” their decision to a later date. Deferrals typically fall into two categories:

  • You applied under the Early Action or Early Decision plan and have been pushed back into the regular pool. This may be frustrating, but also has an advantage.  If you are accepted into the college/university under regular decision, you are not obligated to attend as you would have been if you were accepted under an Early Decision plan (Early Action is non-binding to begin with). You may feel free to consider offers from other schools.
  • You have applied under a regular decision or rolling admission and the college/university would like to have more information in order to make a decision about your application. In almost every case, a college or university would like to see more grades from the senior year or new test scores. If a school receives the information they want, they could admit you earlier.

Being waitlisted is unlike being deferred; the college has finished reviewing your file and made a decision to put you on a waiting list for admission.

  • Being on a waitlist typically means that you are placed within a “holding pattern” of sorts. The admissions committee may or may not admit students from the waitlist. And unlike a deferral situation, new information does not usually change a waitlist decision.
  • If you are placed on a waitlist, you can usually find out if the school has gone to their wait list in the past and if so, how many students they admitted from the waitlist. In some cases, your chances of eventually getting in are very good; at other colleges, waitlisted applicants are almost never admitted.
  • It is always wise to deposit to another institution and ensure that you have a place somewhere. Do not pin your hopes on a waitlisted college; this is the time to make plans with one of your backup schools.

Whether you are deferred or waitlisted, avoid the temptation to begin a flood of recommendation letters and phone calls to the admissions department. In almost every case, this can have an adverse affect on your chances for admission. Some institutions even state in the letters that they do not take any additional letters of recommendation or phone calls on the student’s behalf.  If the admissions office does need more materials, they are generally interested in concrete information (test scores, grades, etc.) rather than personal testimony or recommendations.

A deferral letter is not a “no” and it may provide the opportunity to look at other options for college.

In Like Me.Com has excellent advice which was posted in the article, How to Handle a College Admissions Deferral:

Here are some things deferred applicants should do to enhance the likelihood of admission and maximize college options:

1 – Carefully follow directions from the admissions department. You may be asked to submit mid-year grades, additional test scores or other information.

2- Review your college list and apply to other schools. For many students a deferral is a wake up call! Make sure you are applying to the right mix of schools including a sufficient number of colleges where there is a good or better likelihood that you will be offered admission.

3- Share updated information, and new accomplishments, with the admissions staff. While the admissions team is not likely to appreciate a barrage of disparate information promoting your candidacy, a well-written update letter and other carefully selected correspondence may be well received. Often the admissions staff will provide advice on desirable opportunities to strengthen your application.

4- Touch base with your interviewer and let the person know you were deferred.
Your interviewer may offer some worthwhile suggestions, or may even send a letter or email to the admissions office further recommending you.

5- Keep your grades up. Many colleges give strong consideration to first semester grades from senior year!

6- Consider submitting no more than a few letters of recommendation from people who can provide objective input regarding your abilities, character, strengths, etc. Check with the college first to see if these types of letters are welcome before pursuing additional recommendations.

7- Stay involved. Continue to be active in clubs, sports and other activities. Some colleges and universities are randomly auditing applications to promote honesty.

Finally, don’t panic or give up hope. Maintain a positive outlook as you pursue other colleges, complete applications and communicate with people from the college that deferred you.


Colleges deferring more students

You Got Deferred. Now What?    

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Good or bad? Charter schools and segregation

23 Feb

If one wants to make people’s heads explode, then mention Black conservative, Thomas Sowell. Better yet, quote him. Is the sound moi hears little explosions all over the blogosphere? Sowell has written an interesting piece, The Education of Minority Children© 

While there are examples of schools where this happens in our own time– both public and private, secular and religious– we can also go back nearly a hundred years and find the same phenomenon.  Back in 1899, in Washington, D. C., there were four academic public high schools– one black and three white.1  In standardized tests given that year, students in the black high school averaged higher test scores than students in two of the three white high schools.2
This was not a fluke.  It so happens that I have followed 85 years of the history of this black high school– from 1870 to 1955 –and found it repeatedly equalling or exceeding national norms on standardized tests.
3  In the 1890s, it was called The M Street School and after 1916 it was renamed Dunbar High School but its academic performances on standardized tests remained good on into the mid-1950s.
When I first published this information in 1974, those few educators who responded at all dismissed the relevance of these findings by saying that these were “middle class” children and therefore their experience was not “relevant” to the education of low-income minority children.  Those who said this had no factual data on the incomes or occupations of the parents of these children– and I did.
The problem, however, was not that these dismissive educators did not have evidence.  The more fundamental problem was that they saw no need for evidence.  According to their dogmas, children who did well on standardized tests were middle class.  These children did well on such tests, therefore they were middle class.
Lack of evidence is not the problem.  There was evidence on the occupations of the parents of the children at this school as far back in the early 1890s.  As of academic year 1892-93, there were 83 known occupations of the parents of the children attending The M Street School.  Of these occupations, 51 were laborers and
one was a doctor.4  That doesn’t sound very middle class to me.
Over the years, a significant black middle class did develop in Washington and no doubt most of them sent their children to the M Street School or to Dunbar High School, as it was later called.  But that is wholly different from saying that most of the children at that school came from middle-class homes.
During the later period, for which I collected data, there were far more children whose mothers were maids than there were whose fathers were doctors.  For many years, there was only one academic high school for blacks in the District of Columbia and, as late as 1948, one-third of all black youngsters attending high school in Washington attended Dunbar High School.  So this was not a “selective” school in the sense in which we normally use that term– there were no tests to take to get in, for example– even though there was undoubtedly
self-selection in the sense that students who were serious went to Dunbar and those who were not had other places where they could while away their time, without having to meet high academic standards. (A vocational high school for blacks was opened in Washington in 1902).5
A spot check of attendance records and tardiness records showed that The M Street School at the turn of the century and Dunbar High School at mid-century had less absenteeism and less tardiness than the white high schools in the District of Columbia at those times.  The school had a tradition of being serious, going back to its founders and early principals.
Among these early principals was the first black woman to receive a college degree in the United States– Mary Jane Patterson from Oberlin College, class of 1862.  At that time, Oberlin had different academic curriculum requirements for women and men.  Latin, Greek and mathematics were required in “the gentlemen’s course,” as it was called, but not in the curriculum for ladies.  Miss Patterson, however, insisted on taking Latin, Greek, and mathematics anyway.  Not surprisingly, in her later 12 years as principal of the black high school in Washington during its formative years, she was noted for “a strong, forceful personality,” for “thoroughness,’ and for being “an indefatigable worker.” Having this kind of person shaping the standards and traditions of the school in its early years undoubtedly had something to do with its later success.
Other early principals included the first black man to graduate from Harvard, class of 1870.  Four of the school’s first eight principals graduated from Oberlin and two from Harvard.  Because of restricted academic opportunities for blacks, Dunbar had three Ph.Ds among its teachers in the 1920s.
One of the other educational dogmas of our times is the notion that standardized tests do not predict future performances for minority children, either in academic institutions or in life.  Innumerable scholarly studies have devastated this claim intellectually,
6 though it still survives and flourishes politically.
But the history of this black high school in Washington likewise shows a pay-off for solid academic preparation and the test scores that result from it.  Over the entire 85-year history of academic success of this school, from 1870 to 1955, most of its 12,000 graduates went on to higher education.
7  This was very unusual for either black or white high-school graduates during this era.  Because these were low-income students, most went to a local free teachers college but significant numbers won scholarships to leading colleges and universities elsewhere.8
Some M Street School graduates began going to Harvard and other academically elite colleges in the early twentieth century.  As of 1916, there were nine black students, from the entire country, attending Amherst College.  Six were from the M Street School.  During the period from 1918 to 1923, graduates of this school went on to earn 25 degrees from Ivy League colleges, Amherst, Williams, and Wesleyan.  Over the period from 1892 to 1954, Amherst admitted 34 graduates of the M Street School and Dunbar.  Of these, 74 percent graduated and more than one-fourth of these graduates were Phi Beta Kappas.
No systematic study has been made of the later careers of the graduates of this school.  However, when the late black educator Horace Mann Bond studied the backgrounds of blacks with Ph.D.s, he discovered that more of them had graduated from M Street-Dunbar than from any other black high school in the country.
The first blacks to graduate from West Point and Annapolis also came from this school.  So did the first black full professor at a major university (Allison Davis at the University of Chicago).  So did the first black federal judge, the first black general, the first black Cabinet member, the first black elected to the United States Senate since Reconstruction, and the discoverer of a method for storing blood plasma.  During World War II, when black military officers were rare, there were more than two dozen graduates of M Street or Dunbar High School holding ranks ranging from major to brigadier general.
All this contradicts another widely-believed notion– that schools do not make much difference in children’s academic or career success because income and family background are much larger influences.  If the schools themselves do not differ very much from one another, then of course it will not make much difference which one a child attends.  But, when they differ dramatically, the results can also differ dramatically.
This was not the only school to achieve success with minority children.  But, before turning to some other examples, it may be useful to consider why and how this 85-year history of unusual success was abruptly turned into typical failure, almost overnight, by the politics of education.
As we all know, 1954 was the year of the famous racial desegregation case of
Brown v. Board of Education.  Those of us old enough to remember those days also know of the strong resistance to school desegregation in many white communities, including Washington, D. C.  Ultimately a political compromise was worked out.  In order to comply with the law, without having a massive shift of students, the District’s school officials decided to turn all public schools in Washington into neighborhood schools.

Sowell ends his article with the following thoughts:

Put bluntly, failure attracts more money than success. Politically, failure becomes a reason to demand more money, smaller classes, and more trendy courses and programs, ranging from “black English” to bilingualism and “self-esteem.” Politicians who want to look compassionate and concerned know that voting money for such projects accomplishes that purpose for them and voting against such programs risks charges of mean-spiritedness, if not implications of racism.
We cannot recapture the past and there is much in the past that we should not want to recapture.  But neither is it irrelevant.  If nothing else, history shows what can be achieved, even in the face of adversity.  We have no excuse for achieving less in an era of greater material abundance and greater social opportunities.

The discussion has come full circle because the discussion centers on segregation and charter schools.

Joy Resmovits writes in the Huffington Post article, Charter School Segregation Target Of New Report:

Charter schools often promise to bring greater equity to education, but a new brief starts with the assumption that they fall short in delivery — and provides recommendations to fix the alleged injustice.

“Charter schools tend to be more racially segregated than traditional public schools,” said author and Penn State law professor Preston Green III, who sat on a board that considered charter-school applications in Pennsylvania. “What we tried to do is write ways to enable charter schools to promote desegregation rather exacerbate segregation.”

The brief, “Chartering Equity: Using Charter School Legislation and Policy to Advance Educational Opportunity,” from the University of Colorado’s National Education Policy Center features recommendations from both Green and University of Wisconsin, Madison education professor Julie Mead on how states and school districts can ensure that charters are integrated and helpful to disadvantaged populations. It also includes statutes that states can use to help reach those goals.

Charter schools are publicly funded, but can be privately run, and often admit students via lottery. Charter schools advocates argue that educational opportunity should not depend on zip code, and that charter schools allow for educational innovation that eventually can trickle back into the traditional system.

Detractors, however, often assert that charters siphon resources from traditional public schools without equal compensation and that they don’t serve specific populations, such as special-education students, in proportion with their existence.

Either way, charter schools, championed by both the Obama administration and free-market entrepreneurs, are growing: This year, as they edge into their third decade of existence, charter schools serve a total of 5 percent of American public school students — an increase of 200,000, or 13 percent, from the year before.

According to research released in 2010 by professor Gary Orfield of the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, 70 percent of black charter school students attend a school where the bulk of their peers are also minorities — compared to 40 percent in traditional public schools.Orfield’s brother, Myron Orfield, a professor at the University of Minnesota who directs the Institute on Race & Poverty, studies charter segregation at a local level.

“I think that charters are an engine of racial segregation. They are more segregated than public schools and cause public schools to be more segregated than they otherwise would be,” he said. According to a report he plans to release Friday, from 2010-2011 almost 90 percent of black charter-school students in the Twin Cities are in segregated schools — a number that actually increased by 8 percentage points over the last decade.

A common problem, Green said, is that charter schools often do not comply with federal civil-rights statutes. According to Orfield, they are legally responsible to do so, but are rarely challenged. For example, previous Supreme Court cases found “single-race schools were intentional segregation,” Orfield said. “But charter schools haven’t been challenged in this way, because people don’t have a picture of how big a part of urban education they are.”

Here is the citation to the article:

Chartering Equity: Using Charter School Legislation and Policy to Advance Educational Opportunity

National Education Policy Center

School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder

Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Telephone: (802) 383-0058


Julie F. Mead

Preston C. Green III

February 2012

According to the report, Chartering Equity: Using Charter School Legislation and Policy to Advance Educational Opportunity, the following recommendations are made to various stakeholders:

The recommendations detailed in Part II of this brief are as follows:

For Charter School Authorizers

Establish a clear set of principles that will guide the exercise of the authority to grant, oversee, renew, and revoke charters.

Require that charter school applicants make clear how the school will broaden, not replicate, existing opportunities for struggling populations of students in the community or communities intended to be served by the school.

Require charter school applicants to attend explicitly to local contextual factors, particularly identified achievement disparities, graduation rate concerns, suspension and expulsion issues.

Require evidence that the proposed school’s curricular philosophy, methodological approaches, or both are likely to achieve positive results. ii of iii

Require charter school applicants to detail disciplinary codes and procedures and require a focus on positive interventions and supports.

Require detailed teacher recruitment, retention, and staff development plans so that the school’s teachers have sufficient capacity to deliver equal educational opportunity.

Consider publishing a request for proposals (RFP) for charter schools to address particular persistent problems related to equitable outcomes as identified by local data analysis.

Require detailed recruitment plans to ensure that the school targets and attracts a diverse student applicant pool representative of the broader community in terms of race, socio-economic status, disability status, gender, and limited English proficiency.

Ensure that the charter contract includes provisions that hold charter schools to a standard of equal educational opportunity in terms of educational inputs, practices, and outcomes.

Set clear revocation and renewal standards that reflect a commitment to equal educational opportunity.

For State Legislatures

Adopt declarations establishing that one primary goal of charter school legislation is to enhance equitable educational outcomes for all students, particularly those who have historically struggled.

State explicitly that charter schools must comply with all federal laws and any desegregation decrees.

Require charter school applications to attend explicitly to the local context, particularly identified achievement disparities, graduation rates, and suspension and expulsion issues.

Require that charter school applicants explain how the school will broaden, not replicate, existing opportunities in the community or communities intended to be served by the school.

Require evidence that the proposed school’s curricular philosophy, methodological approaches, or both are likely to achieve positive results.

Require detailed recruitment plans to ensure that the school targets and attracts a broad applicant pool in terms of race, socio-economic status, disability status, gender, and limited English proficiency.

As part of the standards for granting charter approval and renewal, create a set of rebuttable legal presumptions tied directly to equal educational opportunity.

Grant state educational agencies the authority to revoke and non-renew charters of schools that do not meet basic standards, whenever charter authorizers fail to act.

A couple of thoughts:

  1. Would these same students be attending segregated schools if the schools were public, because most cities have segregated housing patterns?
  2. Does it matter that children attend segregated elementary schools if they receive a good basic education and are qualified to attend the college of their choice or vocational school of their choice because they graduated from high school with good basic skills?
  3. Is there anything inherently wrong with a segregated school if it is not the result of a legal mandate which requires segregation?

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Yale research: Why some adolescents are more easily addicted to cocaine?

22 Feb

Yale researchers examined why cocaine affects some adolescents more profoundly than others. Bill Hathaway writes in the Yale News article, Cocaine and the teen brain: Yale research offers insights into addiction:

When first exposed to cocaine, the adolescent brain launches a strong defensive reaction designed to minimize the drug’s effects, Yale and other scientists have found. Now two new studies by a Yale team identify key genes that regulate this response and show that interfering with this reaction dramatically increases a mouse’s sensitivity to cocaine. 

The findings may help explain why risk of drug abuse and addiction increase so dramatically when cocaine use begins during teenage years.

The results were published in the Feb. 14 and Feb. 21 issues of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Researchers including those at Yale have shown that vulnerability to cocaine is much higher in adolescence, when the brain is shifting from an explosive and plastic growth phase to more settled and refined neural connections characteristic of adults. Past studies at Yale have shown that the neurons and their synaptic connections in adolescence change shape when first exposed to cocaine through molecular pathway regulated by the gene integrin beta1, which is crucial to the development of the nervous system of vertebrates.

This suggests that these structural changes observed are probably protective of the neurocircuitry, an effort of the neuron to protect itself when first exposed to cocaine,” said Anthony Koleske, professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry and of neurobiology and senior author of both papers.

In the latest study, Yale researchers report when they knocked out this pathway, mice needed approximately three times less cocaine to induce behavioral changes than mice with an intact pathway.

The research suggests that the relative strength of the integrin beta1 pathway among individuals may explain why some cocaine users end up addicted to the drug while others escape its worst effects, Koleske theorized.

If you were to become totally desensitized to cocaine, there is no reason to seek the drug,” he said.

Koleske and Jane R. Taylor, professor of psychiatry and psychology and an author of the Feb. 14 paper, are teaming up with other Yale researchers to look for other genes that may play a role in protecting the brain from effects of cocaine and other drugs of abuse.

For the true policy wonks, here is the citation:

Journal of Neuroscience

Integrin β1 Signals through Arg to Regulate Postnatal Dendritic Arborization, Synapse Density, and Behavior

  1. M. Sloan Warren
  2. William D. Bradley
  3. Shannon L. Gourley
  4. Yu-Chih Lin
  5. Mark A. Simpson
  6. Louis F. Reichardt
  7. Charles A. Greer
  8. Jane R. Taylor
  9. Anthony J. Koleske


Often children who evidence signs of a substance abuse problem come from homes where there is a substance abuse problem. That problem may be generational. eMedicineHealth lists some of the causes of substance abuse

Substance Abuse Causes

Use and abuse of substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs may begin in childhood or the teen years. Certain risk factors may increase someone’s likelihood to abuse substances.

·         Factors within a family that influence a child’s early development have been shown to be related to increased risk of drug abuse.

o                       Chaotic home environment

o                       Ineffective parenting

o                       Lack of nurturing and parental attachment

·         Factors related to a child’s socialization outside the family may also increase risk of drug abuse.

o                       Inappropriately aggressive or shy behavior in the classroom

o                       Poor social coping skills

o                       Poor school performance

o                       Association with a deviant peer group

o                       Perception of approval of drug use behavior

Substance abuse is often a manifestation of other problems that child has either at home or poor social relations including low self esteem. Dr. Alan Leshner summarizes the reasons children use drugs in why do Sally and Johnny use drugs?

How Can You Recognize the Signs of Substance Abuse?

Parents provides general signs of substance abuse and also gives specific signs of alcohol abuse, and several different drugs, narcotics, and inhalants. The general warning signs are:

·         Changes in friends

·         Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades

·         Increased secrecy about possessions or activities

·         Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors

·         Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using “coded” language

·         Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use

·         Increase in borrowing money

·         Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc.

·         Evidence of use of inhalant products (such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products); Rags and paper bags are sometimes used as accessories

·         Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils

·         New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol

·         Missing prescription drugs—especially narcotics and mood stabilizers

Remember, these are very general signs, specific drugs, narcotics, and other substances may have different signs, it is important to read the specific signs.

What Steps Should a Parent Take?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a series of questions parents should ask If you suspect that your child has a substance abuse problem, you will have to seek help of some type. You will need a plan of action. The Partnership for a Drug Free America lists 7 Steps toTake and each step is explained at the site.

Parents, grandparents and other family members often feel tempted to wait things out and see if they get better. Sometimes they confront the child only to be accused of being distrustful or they hear angry denial, leaving them more confused than before.

It is important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Following are crucial steps that will ease getting help for you and your child.

1. Involve a professional to help determine what to do next….

2. Document as much evidence as you can.

§         Use checklists to record all the behaviors that concern you. Carefully record every behavior that concerns you during this period. Documenting your observations is important because your child will work hard to convince you that things didn’t happen the way you remember.

§         Some parents search their child’s room looking for evidence of drugs or paraphernalia. You should expect that your child will be offended at your invasion of privacy. If you do find contraband, oftentimes your child will claim that it belongs to someone else…..

3. Prepare what you want to say to your child….

4. Plan to talk with your child at a time in a setting where you can have uninterrupted discussion. Strengthen your interaction by using the following talking points:

§         Describe specific behaviors you and others have observed and when they occurred. The more specific you are, especially if you have written your observations down, the harder it will be for your child to deny, disagree, or argue.

§         Express your love and concern and your desire to help your child.

§         Emphasize your firm, non-negotiable position that you will not tolerate drug use and that you intend to determine if these behaviors are indications of drug use.

§         It is not useful simply to ask if your child if he or she is using drugs. Almost always, children will deny using. But it’s not a bad idea to voice your suspicions at some point.

§         If you haven’t observed very many warning signs and believe that your child has just begun using, emphasize that any use of alcohol or other drugs at all is unacceptable. Describe the consequences for further behaviors that concern you. Use strong leverage; consequences might include no driver’s license, no use of the family car, an earlier curfew. ….

5. Make an appointment for a drug assessment for your child.

§         A drug assessment is the surest way to determine the extent of your child’s problem with alcohol and other drugs. When you make the appointment, make sure that the agency understands that the evaluation is for an adolescent; also that the evaluation includes a drug test. Don’t alert your child that a drug test will be part of the assessment…..

6. Keep the appointment no matter what.

7. Don’t give up if things don’t go the way you want — go the distance.

§         If ignored, alcohol-other-drug use will progress. Your efforts to this point have been an effective intervention. Hopefully, it will work early on. Often, parents have to continue to discuss the situation with the child, document evidence and work with other significant adults in the child’s life to turn things around. This difficult intervention may take more time than you want. Persevere.

§         Get help for yourself. Parent support groups such as Families Anonymous, Tough Love, and Alanon can provide effective help as you strive to provide effective help to your child.

If your child has a substance abuse problem, both you and your child will need help. “One day at a time” is a famous recovery affirmation which you and your child will live the meaning. The road to recovery may be long or short, it will have twists and turns with one step forward and two steps back. In order to reach the goal of recovery, both parent and child must persevere.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Update:The GED as a door to the future

21 Feb

In The GED as a door to the future , moi looked at question of 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 theJuly 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.” See, More Than Half Of Older High School Dropouts Not Employed Today

The American Council on Education (ACE) is the official site for the General Educational Development Tests (GED). According to ACE:

What are the GED Tests?

The Tests of General Educational Development (GED Tests) are designed to measure the skills and knowledge equivalent to a high school course of study. The five subject area tests which comprise the GED test battery are Mathematics; Language Arts, Reading; Language Arts, Writing (including essay); Science; and Social Studies.

Watch the video: What is the GED Test?

The question is whether employers and education or training institutions view the GED as equivalent to the high school diploma.

Claudio Sanchez of NPR asks the question, In Today’s Economy, How Far Can A GED Take You?

“The GED is a credential. Is it adequate for gainful employment and a living wage in the United States of America today? I do not think so,” says Los Angeles Schools Superintendent John Deasy. His top lieutenant in charge of adult and career education, Ed Morris, is even more blunt.

“If I were prepared today with a GED, and that’s what I had as an 18-year-old, I’d be scared to death of the future,” he says.

Morris says employers require so much more than what the GED delivers, which is why some students question its value.

“Truth is,” says 18-year-old Juan Valera, “I don’t want a GED.”

Unlike older dropouts at the Friedman center, Valera can still earn a high school diploma by retaking the courses he failed in high school.

He wants to pursue a degree in criminal justice and eventually join the FBI. But right now, he says, a GED wouldn’t even get him in the door at Burger King.

“Every day when I leave here and I go home, I stop by [Burger King] and ask, ‘Are you trying to hire?’ ” he says. “I bother them.”

Let’s say they interview two people for the same job, says Valera. “But one has a GED, one has a high school diploma — someone is far more likely to hire someone who has a high school diploma.”

‘Not As Good As A Diploma’

Valera’s experience has been the same everywhere he has applied — Costco, Walmart, Sears and Best Buy. Companies want a credential that says, “I have the knowledge and skills to handle a job.”

And that’s where the GED falls short, says Russell Rumberger, author of the book Dropping Out.

“If you look at employer surveys,” he says, “the things that employers generally most look for or think are important, especially at lower-end jobs, are the things like perseverance and tenacity, and those kinds of qualities that are not measured by the GED.”

Rumberger, a professor of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, says a high school diploma means you went to school for four years, did the work, passed the classes and didn’t quit. A GED, on the other hand, is a shortcut.

“The GED is better than no credential for a dropout,” he says, “but it’s not as good as a diploma. It doesn’t replace a diploma, in terms of labor market outcomes.”

The research also shows that only 1 in 10 GED recipients earns a college degree. Today, this is perhaps the GED’s biggest challenge.

Moi ended The GED as a door to the future with the following paragraph:

Unless, children are given a meaningful education which provides them with basic skills to adapt to a changing environment, the education system is producing a permanent underclass which will not be able to participate in the next “new, new thing.”

The real issue is reducing the number of high school dropouts.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©



Government is trying to control the vending machine choices of children

20 Feb

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn. Ron Nixon reports in the New York Times article, New Guidelines Planned on School Vending Machines:

The government’s attempt to reduce childhood obesity is moving from the school cafeteria to the vending machines.

The Obama administration is working on setting nutritional standards for foods that children can buy outside the cafeteria. With students eating 19 percent to 50 percent of their daily food at school, the administration says it wants to ensure that what they eat contributes to good health and smaller waistlines. The proposed rules are expected within the next few weeks.

Efforts to restrict the food that schoolchildren eat outside the lunchroom have long been controversial.

Representatives of the food and beverage industries argue that many of their products contribute to good nutrition and should not be banned. Schools say that overly restrictive rules, which could include banning the candy sold for school fund-raisers, risk the loss of substantial revenue that helps pay for sports, music and arts programs. A study by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that about $2.3 billion worth of snack foods and beverages are sold annually in schools nationwide.

Nutritionists say that school vending machines stocked with potato chips, cookies and sugary soft drinks contribute to childhood obesity, which has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about one in every five children are obese.

No details of the proposed guidelines have been released, but health advocates and snack food and soft drink industry representatives predict that the rules will be similar to those for the government’s school lunch program, which reduced amounts of sugar, salt and fat…..

But a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine released this month shows that despite industry efforts and those of others, snacking behavior among children remains largely unchanged. One reason is that healthier snacks were being offered alongside less nutritious offerings.

Between 2006 and 2010, the study found, about half of the schools had vending machines, stores and cafeterias that offered unhealthy foods.

The availability of high-fat foods in schools followed regional patterns. In the South, where rates of childhood obesity are the highest, less nutritious food was more prevalent. In the West, where childhood obesity rates are lower, high-fat food was not as common, the study found.

Health advocates say the study points to the need for national standards.

There have been studies about the effect of vending machine snacking and childhood obesity.

Katy Waldman wrote the Slate article, Do Vending Machines Affect Student Obesity?

Despite all the recent handwringing (even pearl clutching) over junk food in schools, a study out this month in the quarterly Sociology of Education found no link between student obesity rates and the school-wide sale of candy, chips, or sugary soda. The finding undermines efforts by policy makers to trim kids’ waistlines by banning snacks from the classroom. And it must taste odd to the many doctors and scientists who see vending machines as accessories in the childhood obesity epidemic.  

The study followed 19,450 fifth graders of both sexes for four years. At the beginning, 59 percent of the students went to schools that sold “competitive foods”—that is, non-cafeteria fare not reimbursable through federal meal programs. CFs tend to have higher sugar or fat content and lower nutritional value (think the indulgences at the top of the food pyramid, like Coke and Oreos). By the time the students reached eighth grade, 86 percent of them attended schools that sold competitive foods. The researchers, led by Pennsylvania State University’s Jennifer Van Hook, then compared body mass indexes from the 19,450 students, including those who’d spent all four years in junk food-free environments, those who’d left such schools for vending machine-friendly ones, those who’d transferred from vending machine-friendly schools to junk food-free schools, and those who enjoyed access to vending machines for all four years. Regardless of which data sets they contrasted, the researchers were unable to find any sort of connection between obesity and the availability of “unhealthy” snacks in school. In other words, children who could theoretically grab a Snickers bar after class every day for four years were, on average, no heavier than those who couldn’t.

While Van Hook speculated to the New York Times that the findings reflect our tendency to “establish food preferences… early in life,” she also noted in her paper that middle schoolers’ regimented schedules could prevent them from doing much unsupervised eating. (I guess that means that the students didn’t have time to utilize the junk food options they had, which is an issue for another day). In any case, the takeaway is clear. You can’t solve childhood obesity by outlawing vending machines. The obesity epidemic (if it is one) depends on a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors. Maybe a full-court press of school regulations plus zoning laws that encourage supermarkets to come to poor neighborhoods plus government subsidies for fruits and veggies plus crackdowns on fast food advertising plus fifty other adjustments would begin to make a dent in the problem. (Maybe a saner cultural attitude towards food, weight, and looks in general would also help).

See, Rising Childhood Obesity and Vending Machines

The issue of childhood obesity is complicated and there are probably many factors. If a child’s family does not model healthy eating habits, it probably will be difficult to change the food preferences of the child. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


New emphasis on obesity: Possible unintended consequences, eating disorders

Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

More are questioning the value of one-size-fits-all testing

20 Feb

Joy Resmovits has an excellent post at Huffington Post. In Standardized Tests’ Measures of Student Performance Vary Widely: Study Resmovits reports:

The United States has 50 distinct states, which means there are 50 distinct definitions of “proficient” on standardized tests for students.

For example, an Arkansas fourth-grader could be told he is proficient in reading based on his performance on a state exam. But if he moved across the border to Missouri, he might find that’s no longer true, according to a new report.

“This is a really fundamental, interesting question about accountability reform in education,” Jack Buckley, commissioner of the government organization that produced the report, told reporters on a Tuesday conference call.

The report, written by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, found that the definition of proficiency on standardized tests varies widely among states, making it difficult to assess and compare student performance. The report looked at states’ standards on exams and found that some states set much higher bars for students proficiency in particular subjects.

The term “proficiency” is key because the federal No Child Left Behind law mandates that 100 percent of students must be “proficient” under state standards by 2014 — a goal that has been universally described as impossible to reach.

The report, released Wednesday, relies on standards used by the National Assessment of Education Progress, the only national-level standardized test, considered the gold standard for measuring actual student achievement. Researchers scaled state standards to match NAEP’s and then analyzed differences among state scores in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

They found many states deemed students “proficient” by their own standards, but those same students would have been ranked as only “basic” — defined as “partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at each grade” — under NAEP.

“The implication is that students of similar academic skills but residing in different states are being evaluated against different standards for proficiency in reading and mathematics,” the report concludes….

Here is the report citation:

Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto NAEP Scales: Variation and Change in State Standards for Reading and Mathematics, 2005-2009

August 10, 2011

Author: Victor Bandeira de Mello

PDF Download the complete report in a PDF file for viewing and printing. (1959K PDF)

W.M. Chambers cautioned about testing in a 1964 Journal of General Education article, Testing And Its Relationship To Educational Objectives. He questioned whether testing supported the objectives of education rather than directing the objectives.

Here is the complete citation:

Penn State University PressTesting And Its Relationship To Educational Objectives

W. M. Chambers

The Journal of General Education
Vol. 16, No. 3 (October 1964), pp. 246-249
(article consists of 4 pages)

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The goal of education is of course, the educate students. Purdue University has a concise synopsis of Bloom’s Taxonomy which one attempt at describing education objectives:

Bloom’s (1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives is the most renowned description of the levels of cognitive performance. The levels of the Taxonomy and examples of activities at each level are given in Table 3.3. The levels of this taxonomy are considered to be hierarchical. That is, learners must master lower level objectives first before they can build on them to reach higher level objectives.

 Table 3.3

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

Cognitive Domain

1. Knowledge (Remembering previously learned material) 

Educational Psychology: Give the definition of punishment.

Mathematics: State the formula for the area of a circle.

English / Language Arts: Recite a poem.2. Comprehension (Grasping the meaning of material) 

Educational Psychology: Paraphrase in your own words the definition of punishment; answer questions about the meaning of punishment.

Mathematics: Given the mathematical formula for the area of a circle, paraphrase it using your own words.

English / Language Arts: Explain what a poem means.  3. Application (Using information in concrete situations)

Educational Psychology: Given an anecdote describing a teaching situation, identify examples of punishment.

Mathematics: Compute the area of actual circles.

English / Language Arts: Identify examples of metaphors in a poem.4. Analysis (Breaking down material into parts)

Educational Psychology: Given an anecdote describing a teaching situation, identify the psychological strategies intentionally or accidentally employed.

Mathematics: Given a math word problem, determine the strategies that would be necessary to solve it.

English / Language Arts: Given a poem, identify the specific poetic strategies employed in it.5. Synthesis (Putting parts together into a whole) 

Educational Psychology: Apply the strategies learned in educational psychology in an organized manner to solve an educational problem.

Mathematics: Apply and integrate several different strategies to solve a mathematical problem.

English / Language Arts: Write an essay or a poem. 6. Evaluation (Judging the value of a product for a given purpose, using definite criteria)

Educational Psychology: Observe another teacher (or yourself) and determine the quality of the teaching performance in terms of the teacher’s appropriate application of principles of educational psychology.

Mathematics: When you have finished solving a problem (or when a peer has done so) determine the degree to which that problem was solved as efficiently as possible.

English / Language Arts: Analyze your own or a peer’s essay in terms of the principles of composition discussed during the semester.Knowledge (recalling information) represents the lowest level in Bloom’s taxonomy. It is “low” only in the sense that it comes first – it provides the basis for all “higher” cognitive activity. Only after a learner is able to recall information is it possible to move on to comprehension(giving meaning to information). The third level is application, which refers to using knowledge or principles in new or real-life situations. The learner at this level solves practical problems by applying information comprehended at the previous level. The fourth level is analysis – breaking down complex information into simpler parts. The simpler parts, of course, were learned at earlier levels of the taxonomy. The fifth level, synthesis, consists of creating something that did not exist before by integrating information that had been learned at lower levels of the hierarchy. Evaluation is the highest level of Bloom’s hierarchy. It consists of making judgments based on previous levels of learning to compare a product of some kind against a designated standard.

Teachers often use the term application inaccurately. They assume anytime students use the information in any way whatsoever that this represents the application level of Bloom’s taxonomy. This is not correct.

A child who “uses” his memorization of the multiplication tables to write down “15” next to “5 times 3 equals” is working at the knowledge level, not the application level.

A child who studies Spanish and then converses with a native Mexican is almost certainly at the synthesis level, not at the application level. If the child made a deliberate attempt to get his past tense right, this would be an example of application. However, in conversing he would almost certainly be creating something new that did not exist before by integrating information that had been learned at lower levels of the hierarchy.

 Bloom’s use of the term application differs from our normal conversational use of the term. When working at any of the four highest levels of the taxonomy, we “apply” what we have learned. At the application level, we “just apply.” At the higher levels, we “apply and do something else.”The main value of the Taxonomy is twofold: (1) it can stimulate teachers to help students acquire skills at all of these various levels, laying the proper foundation for higher levels by first assuring mastery of lower-level objectives; and (2) it provides a basis for developing measurement strategies to assess student performance at all these levels of learning.

See, Bloom’s Taxonomy More and more people are asking if testing really advances the goals of education or directs testing’s objectives, which may or may not be the same as the goals of education.

Arthur Goldstein writes in the New York Times article, Students Learn Differently. So Why Test Them All the Same?

We teachers have been hearing for years about “differentiated instruction.” It makes sense to treat individuals differently, and to adapt communication toward what works for them. Some kids you can joke with, and some you cannot. Some need more explanation, while others need little or none. If you consider students as individuals (and especially if you have a reasonable class size), you can better meet their needs.

Considering that, it’s remarkable that the impending Core Curriculum fails to differentiate between native-born American students and English language learners. The fact is, it takes time to learn a language, and while my kids are doing that, they may indeed miss reading Ethan Frome.

Is that really the end of the world?

Before Common Core, our standard was the ever-evolving New York State English Regents exam. Anyone who doesn’t pass the test doesn’t graduate, period. So when my supervisor asks me to train kids to pass it, I do.

The last time I taught it, the Regents exam entailed various multiple choice questions and four essays. I trained kids to write tightly structured, highly formulaic four-paragraph essays (in a style I would never use).

Nonetheless, many of them passed. Kids told one another, “You should take that class. It’s awful, but you’ll pass the exam.”

Regrettably, though the kids worked very hard, writing almost until their hands fell off, the only skill they acquired was passing the English Regents.

Because the exam placed more emphasis on communication than structure, I did not stress structure. I had classes of up to 34, and had to read and comment on everything every kid wrote, so time was limited.

Still, I knew that when my kids went to college, they would have to take writing tests — tests which would almost inevitably label them as E.S.L. students, and place them in remedial classes.

I’ve taught those very classes at Nassau Community College. Students pay for six credit hours and receive zero credits. It seems like a very costly way to learn (particularly since I would happily offer high school kids identical preparation for free). But when your student came from Korea five days ago and needs to graduate in less than a year, you make that kid pass the test.

Still, passing does not constitute mastery. It takes years to learn a language, and that time frame varies wildly by individual.

A kid who’s happy here will embrace the language and master it rapidly, while one who has been dragged kicking and screaming may fold his arms and refuse to learn a thing.

Some kids have been trained all their lives to be quiet in the classroom, and will not speak above a whisper — not the best trait in a language learner.

I’m prepared to deal with all these kids, and ready and willing to do whatever necessary to help them. But if I’m compelled to teach them Shakespeare before they’re ready for SpongeBob, I’m not meeting their needs.

There’s no doubt my students will be more college-ready with a strong background in English structure and usage, something relatively automatic for native speakers. In fact, the language skills my kids have in their first languages will almost inevitably transfer into English.

But depriving them of the time and instruction they need is not, by any means, putting “Children First.”

Testing is just another battle in the one-size-fits-all approach to education.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©