Archive | October, 2012

UK study: Overexposure to technology makes children miserable

31 Oct

Natural disasters and hurricanes like “Katrina” and “Sandy” demonstrate how dependent modern society is on a power source and how dependent modern society is on it’s technology. Back in the day, when there were no IPods, or IPads people were forced to do old school things like talk to each other and play cards or board games. Helen Robin and her kids have written the great article, 100 Things To Do With Kids During a Power Outage. Among her suggestions are:

1. Read

2. Make up stories

3. Mad Libs

4. Write a book

5. Play dolls

6. Play school

7. Paint our toenails

8. Paint our brother’s toenails 😉

9. Make puppets

10. Have a “Bear Hunt”

11. Play cards

12. Read books outloud

13. Play hide and seek

14. Play Hucklebucklebeanstalk

15. Have a scavenger hunt

16. Hide something sweet and create a “treasure” map for the kids to solve

17. Learn Morse Code

18. Invent your own code

19. Paint family portraits

20. Build a house of cards

21. Learn the state capitals                               

These suggestions are certainly useful in times where the only light comes from candles or flashlights. A study from the United Kingdom suggests that too much technology might not be beneficial for children.

Graeme Patton of the U.K.’s Telegraph writes in the article, Overexposure to technology ‘makes children miserable’:

Young people exposed to modern technology for more than four hours a day are less likely to display high levels of “wellbeing” than those limiting access to less than 60 minutes, it emerged.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics found that the use of video games and social networking had a number of advantages, including enhancing existing friendships and allowing shy children to communicate.

But it warned of negative effects for young people exposed for technology for too long during the normal school day.

The conclusions come just days after a leading academic warned that a generation of children risks growing up with obsessive personalities, poor self-control, short attention spans and little empathy because of an addiction to social networking websites such as Twitter.

Baroness Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, said a decline in physical human contact meant children struggled to formulate basic social skills and emotional reactions.

Young people’s brains were failing to develop properly after being overexposed to the cyber world at an early age, she claimed.

According to figures quoted by the ONS, almost 85 per cent of children born in 2000/01 have access to a computer and the internet at home. Some 12 per cent have their own computer and the same proportion had a personal mobile phone.

Separate data showed that six per cent of children aged 10-to-15 used online chatrooms or played games consoles for more than four hours on an average school day.


Measuring National Well-being – Children’s Well-being, 2012

Part of Measuring National Well-being, Measuring Children’s Well-being Release

Released: 26 October 2012 Download PDF


This article is published as part of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Measuring National Well-being Programme and discusses the well-being of children aged 0 to 15. The Programme aims to produce accepted and trusted measures of the well-being of the nation – how the UK as a whole is doing. The article will cover both objective and subjective measures of well-being. Areas covered will include infant mortality, birth weight, satisfaction with relationships and access to and use of technology.

Technology and Social Media

Data from the Understanding Society Survey showed that in the UK 95 per cent of children aged 10 to 15 years had computer access at home. Computer use for educational purposes in the home was also found to be high, with nearly 90 per cent of children using a computer at least once a month for homework or course work. The same survey, collected between 2009 and 2010, showed that a higher proportion of boys (96 per cent) than girls (89 per cent) had at least one games console in their home1. Girls on the other hand are more likely (90 per cent) to have their own mobile phone than boys (84 per cent)

The use of technology and social networking by children has advantages which include:

  • Catching up with family and friends
  • Sending messages instantly to several friends at once
  • Ability to engage in play even if external weather conditions do not allow outside play
  • Able to play video games with people who are thousands of miles away
  • Easier communication for shy individuals
  • Enhance existing friendships, happiness and well-being (Valkenburg and Peter, 2009)

Too much time spent playing or chatting on line may also have disadvantages including:

  • The possibility of cyber bullying
  • Being preyed on by perverted individuals
  • Addictive in rare cases
  • Risk of obesity because of lack of physical activity

For children there is a connection between the length of time for which they use media and their well-being. Research in 2011 from the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ESRC) reported that children in the UK who had access to computer games, games consoles and internet use at home for less than an hour on a normal school day also reported better well-being than those who used these facilities for four hours or more. Children who spend too much time chatting on line may also be at risk of unwanted attention and harassment (Askew et al, 2011).

While playing on games consoles and chatting on social media sites can enhance children’s recreational and networking experiences there are risks with excessive usage. Figure 11 shows that 6 per cent of children chat online for four hours or more on a school day compared to 26 per cent and 30 per cent who spend less than one hour and up to 3 hours chatting on line. The figure also shows proportions of children playing on games consoles on a school day; 33 per cent playing for less than an hour, 29 per cent playing for up to three hours and 6 per cent playing for four hours or more.

Figure 11: Use of technology and social media on a school day by 10 to 15 year olds

United Kingdom

Download chart

Data from the Millennium Cohort Study2 also show that:

  • Nearly 85 per cent of children born in 2000-2001 have access to a computer and the internet at home but only three quarters of them use it
  • 12 per cent of these children have their own computer and another 12 per cent have their own mobile phone
  • A high proportion of 11 to 12 year olds (83 per cent) have rules about how long they can watch TV on a school day

Notes for Technology and Social Media

  1. All differences are statistically significant at 95 per cent Confidence Interval
  2. MCS is a longitudinal study of children born in the New Millennium (2000-2001) and their siblings.

Some people are so tied to technology that they develop an addiction.

Moi wrote in Children’s sensory overload from technology:

Jason Dick has 15 Warning Signs That Your Child is An Internet Addict

Psychological and media experts have compiled a list of warning signs for Internet addiction:

1. The Internet is frequently used as a means of escaping from problems or relieving a depressed mood.

2. Your child often loses track of time while online.

3. Sleep is sacrificed for the opportunity to spend more time online.

4. Your child prefers to spend more time online than with friends or family.

5. He/She lies to family member and friends about the amount of time or nature of surfing being done on the Internet.

6. Your child becomes irritable if not allowed to access the Internet.

7. He/She has lost interest in activities they once found enjoyable before getting online access.

8. Your child forms new relationships with people they have met online.

9. They check their email several times per day.

10. He/She has jeopardized relationships, achievements, or educational opportunities because of the Internet.

11. Your child disobeys the time limits that have been set for Internet usage.

12. They eat in front of the computer frequently.

13. Your child develops withdrawal symptoms including: anxiety, restlessness, or trembling hands after not using the Internet for a lengthy period of time.

14.Your child is preoccupied with getting back online when away from the computer.

15. They have trouble distinguishing between the virtual world and the real world.

It is very important that parents identify Internet addiction in their children at an early age and set limits on their Internet use. My next article will provide a no nonsense contract that parents can use with their children to set limits and boundaries on Internet use.

See also, Internet Addiction in Children and Internet Addiction Linked to ADHD and Depression in Teens

Helpguide.Org has a good article on treating internet addiction in teens. Among their suggestions are:

It’s a fine line as a parent. If you severely limit a child or teen’s Internet use, they might rebel and go to excess. But you can and should model appropriate computer use, supervise computer activity and get your child help if he or she needs it. If your child or teen is showing signs of Internet addiction, there are many things that you as a parent can do to help:

  • Encourage other interests and social activities. Get your child out from behind the computer screen. Expose kids to other hobbies and activities, such as team sports, Boy or Girl Scouts, and afterschool clubs.

  • Monitor computer use and set clear limits. Make sure the computer is in a common area of the house where you can keep an eye on your child’s online activity, and limit time online, waiting until homework and chores are done. This will be most effective if you as parents follow suit. If you can’t stay offline, chances are your children won’t either.

  • Talk to your child about underlying issues. Compulsive computer use can be the sign of deeper problems. Is your child having problems fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress? Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling if you are concerned about your child.

There is something to be said for Cafe Society where people actually meet face-to-face for conversation or the custom of families eating at least one meal together. Time has a good article on The Magic of the Family Meal See, also Family Dinner: The Value of Sharing Meals

Perhaps, acting like the power is out from time to time and using Helen Robin’s suggestions is not such a bad idea.


Is ‘texting’ destroying literacy skills                    

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                  

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                          

The changing role of school libraries

31 Oct

Moi wrote about the importance of access to information in The digital divide in classrooms:

One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty For a good article about education and poverty which has agood bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview As technology becomes more prevalent in society and increasingly is used in schools, there is talk of a “digital divide” between the haves and have-nots. Laurence Wolff and Soledad MacKinnon define the “digital divide” in their article, What is the Digital Divide?

The “digital divide,” inequalities in access to and utilization of information and communication technologies (ICT), is immense.

Access to information technology varies within societies and it varies between countries. The focus of this article is the digital divide in education.

Jim Jansen reports in the Pew Internet report, Use of the internet in higher-income households:

Those in higher-income households are different from other Americans in their tech ownership and use.

95% of those in households earning over $75,000 use the internet and cell phones

Those in higher-income households are more likely to use the internet on any given day, own multiple internet-ready devices, do things involving money online, and get news online.

Some 95% of Americans who live in households earning $75,000 or more a year use the internet at least occasionally, compared with 70% of those living in households earning less than $75,000.

Even among those who use the internet, the well off are more likely than those with less income to use technology. Of those 95% of higher-income internet users:

  • 99% use the internet at home, compared with 93% of the internet users in lower brackets.

  • 93% of higher-income home internet users have some type of broadband connection versus 85% of the internet users who live in households earning less than $75,000 per year. That translates into 87% of all those in live in those better-off households having broadband at home.

  • 95% of higher-income households own some type of cell phone compared with 83% in households with less income.

The differences among income cohorts apply to other technology as well

The relatively well-to-do are also more likely than those in lesser-income households to own a variety of information and communications gear.3

  • 79% of those living in households earning $75,000 or more own desktop computers, compared with 55% of those living in less well-off homes.

  • 79% of those living in higher-income households own laptops, compared with 47% of those living in less well-off homes.

  • 70% of those living in higher-income households own iPods or other MP3 players, compared with 42% of those living in less well-off homes.

  • 54% of those living in higher-income households own game consoles, compared with 41% of those living in less well-off homes.

  • 12% of those living in higher-income households own e-book readers such as Kindles, compared with 3% of those living in less well-off homes.

  • 9% of those living in higher-income households own tablet computers such as iPads, compared with 3% of those living in less well-off homes.

Read Full Report

Explore Survey Questions

Unless school leadership is very innovative in seeking grants and/or outside assistance or the school has been adopted by a technology angel, poorer schools are likely to be far behind their more affluent peers in the acquisition of technology.

A very important part of helping bridge the digital divide is the school library.

Laura Devaney wrote the article, School libraries changing with move to digital resources, which was posted at eSchool News.

As schools across the nation move from printed textbooks to digital materials and digital learning environments, school libraries are adapting to keep pace—and new advancements are changing the very definition of school libraries and library media specialists.

Many of today’s students do not know what a card catalog is, and challenges lie not in locating information about various topics, but in narrowing it down and determining whether resources are trustworthy or not…

“People often say that the library is going away,” McConnell said. “It’s really not—it’s a critical piece. It’s a place for community, collaboration, and it’s a place to find partners to help you in whatever literacy you’re trying to increase. That may be literacy in resources, media creation—those services are all there.”

And the stereotypical librarian is evolving into someone who knows how to locate reputable online resources and can help students learn how to use those resources in their research.

“I see librarians as media specialists,” McConnell said. “We still have literacy, whether it’s reading or research…the librarian is the perfect partner for the classroom. The role of the librarian has shifted” for the digital age, he said.

McConnell said thinking about physical learning space is critical even as school districts and higher education migrate to digital resources and virtual workspaces…

“We think about different ways of doing business, and it’s not all about economics—it’s also about quality,” Suddreth said. “There are quality resources, and there are not-so-quality resources, and going with the cheapest model is not always the best. Tech directors are the perfect people to make it really clear to people that purchasing the least expensive model is not always going to support teaching and learning.”

Other challenges include:

Content expertise—Nearly every subject area has people who are proponents of that subject area being taught in a particular way, and other people who are against a particular method.
Hardware—Not every school has computers or tablets for every single student, even though 90 percent of all homes have a computer at home and 70 percent of the population has internet access. “Having hardware in the schools is something we see as our responsibility for students who don’t have it at home, but it’s also a challenge,” Suddreth said.
Security—Often of great concern to parents is what student access. Also, issues arise regarding protecting student information. Online assessments lead to security concerns.
Parent reactions—While student are very excited about working with the technology, where they can really be immersed in learning games or web research, parents are not always familiar with that and have concerns over what their students might be able to access. Parents sometimes have a fear of letting go of a more traditional way of learning.
Accessibility—This includes non-native English speakers and students with disabilities, as well as students’ ability to access the internet at home. “In Utah, because we have large families, when a family has five or six children and one computer, this does pose a problem after school,” Suddreth said.

McConnell said that as technology changes learning, libraries are evolving and will partner with students and faculty to help everyone understand how to research topics and filter information.

For many children a library is where the are introduced to reading and learning.

In Reading is a key component of learning, moi said:

As more schools use “Common Core” standards, parents must also work at home to prepare their children.

Regan Mc Mahon of Common Sense Media has written the article, How to Raise a Reader which gives the following advice:

Read aloud: This comes naturally to lots of new parents, but it’s important to keep it up. Kids will enjoy it longer than you think. For babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and kids in early grade school, it’s wonderful to have a kid on your lap, snuggled next to you on the couch, or drifting off to sleep in bed as you enjoy picture books together. You may have to read your kid’s favorite a hundred times, but just go with it. Your kid will remember the closeness as well as the story. And try nonfiction for those who are curious about pirates, Vikings, robots, castles, history, sports, biography, animals, whatever. For second through fifth graders, read those rich and meaty books that might be missed otherwise, maybe classics like Treasure Island or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Many parents think that as soon as their kids learn to read on their own, they no longer need to be read to. But kids still love it and benefit from it as they hear the rhythm of the language, learn correct pronunciation, and get to relax and just take it all in. Kids will get the idea that there’s something worthwhile in books and that there’s something special about time spent with a parent.

Savor the series: It’s common for kids to become book lovers for life after getting hooked on a series. And there are lots of good ones that keep kids hungry for the next installment. Some reliable prospects: Ivy and Bean, Judy Moodyfor beginning readers; Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and the Percy Jackson series for middle graders; and Hunger Games, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Twilight (unless you think vampires are too creepy) for older kids.

Grab onto a genre: Kids go through phases of genres they’re passionate about, from girl detectives to science fiction and fantasy. Don’t get hung up on whether it’s considered great literature (although some genre books are). Be happy that your kid is devouring books one after the other. 

Feed the favorite-author addiction: Once your kids finds a writer they love, they may want to read all of his or her books — a great excuse for a trip to the library or an opportunity for book swapping among friends and classmates. Here are some good bets for favorites. Younger kids: Dav Pilkey (The Adventures of Captain Underpants), Beverly Cleary (Beezus and Ramona). Middle grade: Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn-Dixie), Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book). Tweens and teens: Judy Blume (Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret) and Sarah Dessen (Just Listen). 

Count on the Classics: Books are called classics because they continue to engage readers generation after generation. There are no guarantees, but you could try introducing your kids to books you loved as a kid and see which ones click. Some good ones to try are the Dr. Seuss and Narnia books, Charlotte’s Web, and The Secret Garden. Check out our Classic Books for Kids list to find more. 

Find Books About the Things Your Kid Loves: If your kid adores horses, try Black Beauty or any of the titles on our list of best Horse Books. If he’s wild about cars, trucks and trains, check out our list of Vehicle Books. Librarians, booksellers, and Internet searches will help you find books on any favorite topic.

Funny Is Fine: Some parents wrestle with letting their kids read Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and other edgy humor books about kids getting in trouble. Talk to your kids about the content, but keep in mind that kids like these books not because they want to imitate the characters’ actions but because they can live vicariously through their bad behavior. Humor is a great pathway to book loving.

Comics Are OK: Graphic novels are among the hottest trends in children’s publishing, and they can get kids hooked on reading. Kids may start with Squish and Babymouse and move on to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. But these series can also lead to more sophisticated fare such as Marzi andAmerican Born Chinese. Find other titles in our list of best Graphic Novels.  

Make Reading a Family Value: Actions speak louder than words. Take your kids to the library once a week or once a month to get new books, make regular outings to your local bookstore, hunt for low-cost books at used bookstores or second-hand shops, and show kids that finding a good book is like a treasure hunt.

Fit reading into your family lifestyle. Set aside time for reading only — turning off the TV, computer, and cell phone. Encourage focused reading time, either for independent reading or reading aloud. Take preschoolers to story time hours at libraries and bookstores. For older kids, a parent-kid book club can be fun. Read to kids at bedtime. Provide time and space for your kids to read for pleasure in the car (if they don’t get car sick!), on vacation, after homework is done, on their own before bed. Warning: It could be habit-forming!

Education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), the teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be active and involved. Parents are an important part because they enforce lessons learned at school by reading to their children and taking their children for regular library time.


US Department Of Education Helping Series which are a number of pamphlets to help parents and caregivers

How Parents Can Help Their Child Prepare for School Assignments

The ABCs of Ready to Learn

Getting Young Children Ready to Learn

Ebony Magazine’s How to Prepare Your Child for Success

General Tips for Preparing for Kindergarten

Louise Hajjar Diamond in an article for the American School Counselor Association writes about preparing a child for middle school

Getting Your Child Ready to Learn

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success


Helping at-risk children start a home library             

Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful?                                                    

The slow reading movement                                      

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum                                                             

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                            

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                         

Helping troubled children: The ‘Reconnecting Youth Program’

30 Oct

Many children arrive at school with mental health and social issues. In School psychologists are needed to treat troubled 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….

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. In addition to psychological programs, schools can offer other resources to help students succeed in school and in life.

Rebecca Jones of Ed News Colorado writes about the Reconnecting Youth Program in the article, Reconnecting Youth program boosts teens:

Seventeen-year-old Chris Malcolm is the first to admit he squandered a lot of his high school years because he just didn’t care.

Members of Robin Albert’s Reconnecting Youth class at Summit High School in Frisco.

I was like, I don’t care about school, I don’t care if I’m here, it’s so boring I can’t deal with it,” said Malcolm, a senior at Summit High School in Frisco. “But now, I can tell myself the day’s gonna be fine, I’m fine, and I’m capable of doing school.”

Malcolm will graduate in the spring and intends to enroll in Colorado Mountain College. He hopes to become either a distiller or a meteorologist, and eventually he wants to live in New York City. Whatever, he’s got a plan, and he’s working to make it happen.

He credits the turnaround in his life to one class, which he’s taking this year. It meets second period, three days a week.

It’s called Reconnecting Youth, and it’s a special class for at-risk youth. In Summit County it’s offered in partnership between the school district and county Department of Youth and Family Services. Elsewhere around the state a handful of schools also partner with social service agencies to offer the class…

The program has been shown to improve more than just grades, though that and a decrease in absenteeism are the easiest markers to quantify. Nationwide, students enrolled in the class have exhibited a 50 percent decrease in hard drug use, a 75 percent reduction in depression, an 80 percent reduction in suicidal behaviors, a 32 percent decline in perceived stress and a 23 percent increase in “self-efficacy” or a sense of personal control. Since its creation in the 1990s, Reconnecting Youth has been touted as one of the strongest evidence-based programs for decreasing teen suicide, drug involvement and poor school performance.

As Malcolm describes it, the class has taught him how to talk himself out of helplessness. “I just tell myself that things aren’t ever as bad as they look,” he said. “They’re only as bad as I let them be. I have control….”

Program focuses on decision making, personal control

The curriculum can be taught in a semester or over a whole year. It focuses on self-esteem, decision-making, personal control and interpersonal communications. Strategies for establishing drug-free activities and friendships outside of class are also stressed.

The program was developed at the University of Washington over the course of three federal grants spanning seven years in the 1990s. Since then, training in the program has been repeatedly offered around the country in almost every state, said Beth McNamara, director of program and training for Reconnecting Youth.

Here is what Reconnecting Youth says about their program:


Reconnecting Youth Inc. is dedicated to researching, developing, testing and disseminating prevention programs for youth at risk and to training those who use our programs to implement them with fidelity. Our award-winning programs have been recognized for over a decade as models for evidence-based prevention and are included on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Our company has received generous support to develop and test our programs and the effectiveness of our training from the National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Nursing Research, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the US Department of Education.

We are confident that together we can make significant gains in assisting youth to succeed in school and in life.


We have numerous publications documenting the efficacy of the Reconnecting Youth (RY) and Coping and Support Training (CAST) Programs.

Read about the participants, prevention mechanisms and theory behind the numerous RY Studies and CAST Studies. Review the outcomes for the youth involved in our efficacy trials by viewing the RY Findings and the CAST Findings.

In order for schools to help many children succeed, they will have to look at the “whole child approach.”

In The ‘whole child’ approach to education, moi said:

Many children do not have a positive education experience in the education system for a variety of reasons. Many educators are advocating for the “whole child” approach to increase the number of children who have a positive experience in the education process.

The National Education Association (NEA) describes the “whole child” approach to learning in the paper, Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child:

Meeting the needs of the whole child requires:

Addressing multiple dimensions, including students’ physical, social and emotional health and well-being.

Ensuring equity, adequacy and sustainability in resources and quality among public schools and districts.

Ensuring that students are actively engaged in a wide variety of experiences and settings within—and outside—the classroom.

Providing students with mentors and counselors as necessary to make them feel safe and secure.

Ensuring that the condition of schools is modern and up-to-date, and that schools provide access to a broad array of resources.

Reducing class size so that students receive the individualized attention they need to succeed.

Encouraging parental and community involvement.

ASCD, (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) along with the NEA is leading in the adoption of the “whole child” approach.

In order to ensure that ALL children have a basic education, we must take a comprehensive approach to learning.

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


Johns Hopkins study finds ‘Positive Behavior Intervention’ improves student behavior                                        

Pre-kindergarten programs help at-risk students prepare for school                                                                         

A strategy to reduce school suspensions: ‘School Wide Positive Behavior Support’                                       

U.S. Education Dept. Civil Rights Office releases report on racial disparity in school retention                           

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                      

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                         

Study: Migraines affect a child’s school performance

29 Oct

According to Tara Parker Pope in the New York Times article, Returning to Classrooms, and to Severe Headaches:

Doctors say frequent headaches and migraines are among the most common childhood health complaints, yet the problem gets surprisingly little attention from the medical community. Many pediatricians and parents view migraines as an adult condition. And because many children complain of headaches more often during the school year than the summer, parents often think a child is exaggerating symptoms to get out of schoolwork….

Parents often have a hard time distinguishing between real pain and the imaginary maladies that young children sometimes invent. Dr. Hershey tells the story of a 6-year-old boy with daily headaches, whose parents thought he was just trying to avoid school. His parents finally sought treatment and by the time he was in the third grade the headaches were under control. “He was a different kid, more active and happy all the time,” said Dr. Hershey. “The parents realized he really had been having headaches, but they had been denying it.”

But parents also say they have struggled to find doctors who take a child’s headache complaints seriously. When Cathy Glaser’s daughter began suffering migraines as a toddler, her New York pediatrician couldn’t help. By the age of 15, her daughter was virtually disabled by migraines, but finally found help at the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute in Chelsea, Mich.

The experience prompted Ms. Glaser to help create the Migraine Research Foundation. The group’s “For Our Children” initiative raises awareness and money for pediatric migraine research. The group’s Web site,, also offers a list of headache centers that treat children. “It’s astounding that so little attention is being paid to such a disabling and socially expensive problem,” she says.

Parents need to be alert for the possibility that a child’s complaints about headaches may be serious.

Medical News Today is reporting in the article, Migraines Linked To Behavioral Problems In Kids:

Marco Arruda, director of the Glia Institute in São Paulo, Brazil, together with Marcelo Bigal of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, conducted a study of 1,856 Brazilian children ages 5 to 11 which looked at the connection of emotional symptoms with migraine and tension-type headaches (TTH).

The study used headache surveys, in addition to the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), to measure emotional symptoms. The researchers instructed teachers how to walk parents through the questionnaires, step by step.

Children with migraines had a much greater probability of irregular behavioral scores than children without headaches, primarily in social, anxiety-depressive, internalizing, and attention areas.

Children with TTH were affected in the same areas, but to a lesser extent. With more frequency of headaches, abnormal behavioral scores increased. Over half of the migraine sufferers had issues with internalizing behaviors. Externalizing behaviors, such as breaking rules or becoming aggressive, were no more likely among the children with headaches. The authors advised that the CBCL may not be efficient enough to measure this correlation in detail.

Arruda explains:

“As previously reported by others, we found that migraine was associated with social problems. The ‘social’ domain identifies difficulties in social engagement as well as infantilized behavior for the age and this may be associated with important impact on the personal and social life.”Children frequently suffer from migraines, which affect over three percent to one fifth of children from early childhood to adolescence. Earlier research has suggested that children with migraines are more likely to have other psychological and physical problems, including depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, and attention disorders.


Migraine and migraine subtypes in preadolescent children

Association with school performance

  1. Marco A. Arruda, MD, PhD and
  2. Marcelo E. Bigal, MD, PhD

+ Author Affiliations

  1. From the Glia Institute (M.A.A.), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil; Global Center for Scientific Affairs, Office of the Chief Medical Officer (M.E.B.), Merck & Co., Inc., West Point, PA; and Department of Neurology (M.E.B.), Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.
  1. Correspondence & reprint requests to Dr. Bigal:

View Complete Disclosures


Objectives: To conduct a population-based study describing school performance in children with episodic migraine (EM), chronic migraine (CM), and probable migraine (PM), relative to controls.

Methods: Children (n = 5,671) from 87 cities and 18 Brazilian states were interviewed by their teachers (n = 124). First, teachers were asked to provide information on the performance of the students while at school, which consisted of the same information provided to the educational board, with measurements of the overall achievement of competencies for the school year. The MTA-SNAP-IV scale was then used to capture symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and to provide objective information on the performance of the students. Parents were interviewed using a validated headache questionnaire and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, which measures behavior in 5 domains. Multivariate models estimated determinants of school performance as a function of headache status.

Results: EM occurred in 9% of the children, PM in 17.6%, and CM in 0.6%. Poor performance at school was significantly more likely in children with EM and CM, relative to children without headaches, and was significantly influenced by severity (p < 0.001) and duration (p < 0.001) of headache attacks, by abnormal scores of mental health (p < 0.001), and by nausea (p < 0.001), as well as by headache frequency, use of analgesics, and gender.

Conclusion: Children with migraine are at an increased risk of having impairments in their school performance and factors associated with impairment have been mapped. Future studies should address the directionality of the association and putative mechanisms to explain it.


  • Study funding: This study was conducted without financial support.
  • Received February 21, 2012.
  • Accepted July 9, 2012.
  • Copyright © 2012 by AAN Enterprises, Inc.

Articles citing this article

See, Migraines May Affect Children’s School Performance, Study Suggests

The Cleveland Clinic has an excellent article, Migraines in Children and Adolescents:

Migraines in Children and Adolescents

Migraine is a moderate-to-severe headache that lasts from 2 to 4 hours and usually occurs two to four times per month. (These episodic migraines are also called acute recurrent headaches.)

Migraines affect about 2% of children by age 7 and about 7 to 10% of children and adolescents by age 15. Disability from headaches – anything that interferes with activities – can be significant.

In early childhood and before puberty, migraines are more frequent among boys. In adolescence, migraines affect young women more than young men. As adults, women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men.

What causes a migraine?

Migraines tend to run in families – that is, they are hereditary. Approximately 70% of people who have migraines also have an immediate family member (mother, father, sister or brother) who suffers, or may have suffered, from migraines in their childhood. Migraines cause a person to experience significant discomfort and disability, but they do not usually cause damage to the body. Migraines are not related to brain tumors or strokes.

Until recently, the cause of migraine was thought to be vascular – caused by the constriction and expansion of blood vessels in the brain. Today, migraine is thought to be an episodic brain malfunction –”a central nervous system (CNS) disorder” of primarily the brain and nerves, and secondarily of the blood vessels. The “malfunction” is caused, in part, by changes in the level of circulating neurotransmitters (chemicals in the CNS), and involving serotonin in particular.

What are the types of migraine in children and adolescents?

  • Common migraine or migraine without aura* — is the most frequent type in children and adolescents, accounting for 70 to 85% of all migraines.
  • Classic migraine or migraine with aura* — is less frequent than common migraine, accounting for about 15 to 30% of all migraines. In young children, migraine often begins in the late afternoon. As the child gets older, the onset of migraine may change to early morning.

* An aura is a warning sign that a migraine is about to begin. An aura usually occurs about 10 to 30 minutes before the onset of a migraine. The most common auras are visual and include blurred or distorted vision; blind spots; or brightly colored, flashing or moving lights or lines. Other auras may include speech disturbances, motor weakness or sensory changes. The duration of an aura varies, but it generally lasts about 20 minutes.

  • Complicated migraine syndromes are associated with neurological symptoms, including:
    • Ophthalmoplegic migraine, which causes abnormal paralysis of the motor nerves of the eye and a dilated pupil
    • Hemiplegic migraine, which causes weakness on one side of the body
    • Basilar artery migraine, which causes pain at the base of the skull as well as numbness, tingling, visual changes and balance difficulties (such as vertigo, a spinning sensation)
    • Confusional migraine, which causes a temporary period of confusion and speech and language problems, and is often initiated by minor head injury

Patients with complicated migraine syndromes require a complete neurological evaluation, which may require laboratory tests and two types of imaging tests, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and MRA (magnetic resonance imaging of the arteries) scans. These tests allow the tissues and arteries within the brain to be seen and evaluated. Most patients with complicated migraine recover completely, and a structural abnormality is rarely found.

  • Migraine variants are disorders in which the symptoms appear and disappear from time to time. Headache may be absent. Migraine variants, which are more common in children, include:
    •  Paroxysmal vertigo—dizziness and vertigo (spinning) that is brief, sudden, and intense
    • Paroxysmal torticollis—sudden contraction of one side of the neck muscles that causes the head to “tilt” to one side
    • Cyclic vomiting—uncontrolled vomiting that lasts about 24 hours and occurs every 30 to 60 days. Many have a family history of and/or develop migraine later in life.

The key to diagnosing these migraine variants, which can be confused with other neurological syndromes, is their tendency to recur at intervals. The person does not have symptoms between attacks. Patients with migraine variants may also have a positive family history of migraine, and have a history of or develop migraine headaches.

What are the symptoms of migraine?

Although symptoms can vary from person to person, the general symptoms of common and classic migraine are:

  • Pounding or throbbing head pain. In children, the pain usually affects the front or both sides of the head. In adolescents and adults, the pain usually affects one side of the head.
  • Pallor, or paleness of the skin
  • Irritability
  • Phonophobia or sensitivity to sound
  • Photophobia or sensitivity to light
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and/or vomiting, abdominal pain

What are some migraine triggers?

In many children and adolescents, migraines are triggered by external factors. These “triggers” vary for each person. Some common migraine triggers include:

  • Stress—especially resulting from school and family problems. Carefully reviewing what causes stress can help determine what stress factors to avoid. Stress management includes regular exercise, adequate rest and diet, and promoting pleasant activities such as enjoyable hobbies.
  • Lack of sleep—results in less energy for coping with stress.
  • Menstruation—normal hormonal changes caused by the menstrual cycle can trigger migraines.
  • Changes in normal eating patterns—skipping meals lowers the body’s blood sugar and can cause migraines. Eating three regular meals and not skipping breakfast can help.
  • Caffeine—Caffeine is a habit-forming substance and headache is a major symptom of caffeine ingestion and withdrawal. If you are trying to cut back on caffeine, do so gradually.
  • Weather changes—volatile weather, such as storm fronts or changes in barometric pressure, trigger migraines in some people.
  • Medications—some medications—such as oral contraceptives (birth control pills), asthma treatments, and stimulants (including many of the drugs used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD])—may trigger a migraine. Ask your doctor if there are alternatives to these medications.
  • Alcohol—may cause the brain’s arteries to expand, resulting in a migraine.
  • Travel —the motion sickness sometimes caused by travel in a car or boat can trigger a migraine.
  • Diet—some migraine sufferers find that certain foods or food additives trigger a migraine. These foods include aged cheeses, pizza, luncheon meats, sausage or hot dogs (which contain nitrates), chocolate, caffeine, Doritos®, Ramen® noodles, monosodium glutamate or MSG (a seasoning used in Oriental foods). Recalling what was eaten prior to a migraine attack may help identify certain foods that are potential triggers so you can avoid them in the future.
  • Changes in regular routine—such as lack of sleep, travel, or illness can trigger a migraine. Exercising regularly and getting adequate rest can decrease the number of migraine attacks.

By identifying your migraine triggers, you can take steps to avoid the trigger to decrease the frequency and severity of your migraines and make life more enjoyable.

The Migraine Foundation’s article, Migraine in Children recommends:

Treatment for childhood and adolescent migraine depends on the age of the child and the frequency and severity of the attacks. Expert help from headache doctors or centers specializing in migraine may be indicated for children for whom diagnosis is difficult or who don’t respond to typical first-line treatments.

  • For some children, sleep alone is an effective treatment.   
  • Although there are well over 100 drugs used to prevent or treat migraine symptoms, none has been approved for use in children. However, they have been studied by researchers and are prescribed.  These drugs include triptans, ergot preparations, and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).  
  • Certain over-the-counter products may relieve some migraines.  For mild to moderate migraine, general pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen sodium (Alleve) used early in the course of the headache are often effective.
  • Since lack of appetite, abdominal pain, and vomiting occur in 90% of child sufferers, drugs that treat nausea and vomiting specifically (antiemetics) can be useful. 
  • Because of the potential for medication-overuse (rebound) headaches, all medications should be used with care, including over-the-counter drugs and barbiturates. If a child is taking any medication for headache more than twice a week, a doctor should be consulted.

There are three general approaches to treatment:

1. Acute treatment uses drugs to relieve the symptoms when they occur. 

2.Preventive treatmentuses drugs taken daily to reduce the number of attacks and lessen the intensity of the pain.  If a child has three or four disabling headaches a month, the doctor should consider using preventive medication, which includes certain anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antihistamines, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and NSAIDs. Sometimes herbals and supplements, such as butterbur, magnesium, riboflavin, CoQ10, and feverfew, are recommended.

3.Complementary treatment does not use drugs and includes relaxation techniques (biofeedback, imagery, hypnosis, etc.), cognitive-behavioral therapy, acupuncture, exercise, and proper rest and diet to help avoid attack triggers.  For some children, eating a balanced diet without skipping meals, getting regular exercise, and rising and going to bed at the same time every day help reduce migraine frequency and severity.

Diagnosing a migraine in a child must be undertaken by a skilled medical professional. Any treatment of a child’s migraine must be conducted under supervision by a medical professional. The National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions can direct you toward competent medical professionals in your state.


Your Child’s Headache or Migraine                  

Migraine Headache in Children             

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                       

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                        

More about the DREAM Act: Freedom University in Georgia

28 Oct

Moi wrote about the DREAM Act in What is the DREAM Act?

As with any law or law change, there are pros and cons.

Balanced Politics. Org has a really good summary of Dream Act pros and cons:

Yes No
  1. The foundation of the United States, as it describes on our Statue of Liberty, is immigration.
  2. Millions of illegal immigrants will stay in the shadows of society without some path to citizenship.
  3. It would generate additional tax revenues from both employers and employees as jobs are allowed to come into the open.
  4. We’d be able to count on the American justice system to protect wronged individuals and hold criminal immigrants accountable, whereas now illegals are afraid to be a part of the system due to possible deportation.
  5. It’s inhumane to break up families that have built a life in America.
  6. It may be good for the U.S. economy since immigrants can fill jobs that most Americans don’t want, often at a much lower cost to businesses.
  7. Homeland Security resources that focus on illegal immigrants can be redirected to tracking and finding terrorists.
  8. The current legal immigration path to citizenship is costly, time-consuming, inefficient, and limited. Thus, people seeking entry into the U.S. often have no choice but to do so illegally.
  9. It brings freedom and a path to self-sufficiency that isn’t available to billions of others around the world who aren’t lucky enough to be born in the United States.
  1. A path to citizenship rewards people for breaking the law.
  2. It’s unfair to the people who have followed the rules in their quest for citizenship.
  3. It will create a flood of illegal immigrants from everywhere who will try to get in before the law goes into effect.
  4. The program would add millions of people to the welfare rolls, who consume government resources such as health care, social security, and education while paying little or no taxes. Thus, the out-of-control government deficits would be pushed further to the edge of bankruptcy.
  5. It further erodes the English language and American culture in the United States.
  6. It would take away more jobs from current American citizens and drive down wages of remaining jobs.
  7. It would create an influx of voters who support the president & lawmakers that gave them citizenship at the expense of existing citizens.
  8. It would lead to further overpopulation and crowding of American cities.
  9. Terrorists, drug dealers, and other foreign enemies will exploit any open border or amnesty policies put in place.
  10. Plenty of better solutions exist, such as increasing legal immigration limits and reforming worker visa programs.

Related Links

Many who support the Dream Act are looking a the impact of an aging population on a society.

Jeremy Laurance writes in U.K.’s Independent about the impact on aging. In Why an ageing population is the greatest threat to society:

Of all the threats to human society, including war, disease and natural disaster, one outranks all others. It is the ageing of the human population.

No invading army, volcanic eruption or yet undreamt of plague can rival ageing in the breadth or depth of its impact on society. Over the next half century the proportion of people aged 60-plus around the world is expected to more than double. By 2050, for the first time in human history, old people will outnumber child-ren on the planet.

In some developed counties the number of older people will be twice the number of children. The impact of this transformation will be felt in every area of life, including economic growth, labour markets, taxation, the transfer of property, health, family composition, housing and migration. And the “demographic agequake” is already under way.

A argument for immigration is that younger people are added to the population base and helps the aging problem.

Kathy Lohr of NPR reports on a new university in Georgia. In the article, Undocumented Students Take Education Underground, Lohr reports:

About 35 students meet every Sunday at an undisclosed location in Georgia to study. They are undocumented and banned from attending some of the most prestigious colleges in the state.

Georgia is one of three states to bar undocumented students from attending schools. But a group of professors at the University of Georgia has created a fledgling school to provide a place for students to learn.

They call it Freedom University, named after the schools set up during the civil rights era to teach African-Americans in the Deep South. University of Georgia history professor Pam Voekel is one of the volunteer instructors.

“They really do see this as a civil rights struggle,” she says. “They are being excluded from higher education, and so we went with that as part of that kind of tribute to that prior struggle.”

A Form Of Protest

The school came about after Georgia legislators passed a bill to ban undocumented students from attending the top five universities in the state. The law also requires these students to pay out-of-state

But Voekel says students wanted to do more than just protest.

“What the undocumented students were saying is, ‘We want to be in a classroom. How you could really help us, professors, is to offer courses,'” she says….

Freedom University professors like Lorgia Garcia-Pena have cautioned that the deferred action policy does not address education.

Yovany Diaz, a student at Freedom U, is applying for deferred status, though that won’t afford him in-state tuition at Georgia universities.

“It allows people to apply to not be deported right now. It does not solve the problem for our undocumented dreamers,” she says.

Those who fought to pass the restrictions say only legal residents should be allowed to attend public schools. Earlier this year, state Se. Barry Loudermilk lobbied for a measure that would have expanded the current ban from five universities to all public colleges.

“We have to be responsible with taxpayer dollars,” he says. “We also have to ensure that these seats that are available in our colleges and universities are there for our citizens, students and legal foreign students that have come into this nation looking for a better education. They’ve done so legally, and they want to get a seat at the table.”

The Georgia Board of Regents says it will follow the law. A spokesman says the government’s deferred action program does not mean that undocumented students will now be considered U.S. residents.

‘A Given Right’

In Atlanta, Martin returns to his parents’ home after class and after working with his father as a day laborer. Posters of Led Zeppelin hang on the wall. So do the honor medals Martin earned in high school.

“Because of the ban and because of all these negative things, something was able to spawn from this, and that was Freedom University,” he says. “It should be a given right to be educated, you know?”

Martin and others here know they’re not getting credit for classes, but they hope their time at Freedom University will prepare them for courses at a real college. Since last year, six students have received private scholarships at out-of-state schools.

According to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), fewer than expected have applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA):

David Grant reports in the CSM article, DREAM Act-lite: 7 in 100 eligible illegal immigrants apply, so far:

Now, the numbers are in for the program’s first month. As of Sept. 13, at least 82,000 illegal immigrants have filed applications to take the government up on its offer, a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the DHS announced Friday. That’s almost 7 percent of the 1.2 million illegal immigrants whom advocacy groups estimate are currently eligible for the program.

All in all, we’re very satisfied,” not only with the number of applicants but “also with the way the program is being implemented,” says Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

While some advocates may have expected “hundreds of thousands” of applications out of the gate, Ms. Hincapie says that was never a realistic proposition because of the complexity of the application, concerns from illegal immigrants about making themselves known to the government, and questions about how a potential President Mitt Romney would handle the program.

Another 500,000 or so individuals will meet eligibility requirements in the future, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), for a total of about 1.7 million potential applicants.

Of the 82,000 people to apply, 63,000 have appointments scheduled for the recording of biometric data. Twenty-nine cases have already been resolved, with 1,660 more cases ready for final review, according to DHS….

Successful applicants win a deferral from deportation for two years, but after that they must periodically reapply to reauthorize their deferrals, Doris Meissner, MPI senior fellow and former commissioner of the US Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), told the Monitor last month. While rooting out fraud is always important, Ms. Meissner said, lying to the government during the application process is cause for deportation, and fraud uncovered even after someone is sheltered under DACA means illegal immigrants applying fraudulently “will have put themselves into serious jeopardy.” 

To qualify for the DACA program, applicants must be under age 31, have lived in the US for five or more years consecutively, served in the military or be pursuing an education or have graduated from high school, have come to America before age 16, and have no significant criminal record. Applicants must pay a $465 fee and submit to a biometric scan and background investigation.

If successful, applicants gain a two-year deferral from deportation proceedings and the opportunity to apply for a work permit, but no path to US citizenship. If unsuccessful, there is no appeals process.

Freedom University points to the failure of U.S. Immigration policy.



Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©              

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                              

Colleges rethinking who may need remedial education

24 Oct

Moi wrote about remedial education in Remedial education in college:

Whether or not students choose college or vocational training at the end of their high school career, our goal as a society should be that children should be “college ready.” David T. Conley writes in the ASCD article, What Makes a Student College Ready?

The Big Four

A comprehensive college preparation program must address four distinct dimensions of college readiness: cognitive strategies, content knowledge, self-management skills, and knowledge about postsecondary education.

Key Cognitive Strategies

Colleges expect their students to think about what they learn. Students entering college are more likely to succeed if they can formulate, investigate, and propose solutions to nonroutine problems; understand and analyze conflicting explanations of phenomena or events; evaluate the credibility and utility of source material and then integrate sources into a paper or project appropriately; think analytically and logically, comparing and contrasting differing philosophies, methods, and positions to understand an issue or concept; and exercise precision and accuracy as they apply their methods and develop their products.

Key Content Knowledge

Several independently conducted research and development efforts help us identify the key knowledge and skills students should master to take full advantage of college. Standards for Success (Conley, 2003) systematically polled university faculty members and analyzed their course documents to determine what these teachers expected of students in entry-level courses. The American Diploma Project (2004) consulted representatives of the business community and postsecondary faculty to define standards in math and English. More recently, both ACT (2008) and the College Board (2006) have released college readiness standards in English and math. Finally, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (2008), under mandate of state law, developed one of the first and most comprehensive sets of state-level college readiness standards….

Key Self-Management Skills

In college, students must keep track of massive amounts of information and organize themselves to meet competing deadlines and priorities. They must plan their time carefully to complete these tasks. They must be able to study independently and in informal and formal study groups. They must know when to seek help from academic support services and when to cut their losses and drop a course. These tasks require self-management, a skill that individuals must develop over time, with considerable practice and trial-and-error.

Key Knowledge About Postsecondary Education

Choosing a college, applying, securing financial aid, and then adjusting to college life require a tremendous amount of specialized knowledge. This knowledge includes matching personal interests with college majors and programs; understanding federal and individual college financial aid programs and how and when to complete appropriate forms; registering for, preparing for, and taking required admissions exams; applying to college on time and submitting all necessary information; and, perhaps most important, understanding how the culture of college is different from that of high school….

Students who would be the first in their family to attend college, students from immigrant families, students who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups traditionally underrepresented in college, and students from low-income families are much more easily thrown off the path to college if they have deficiencies in any of the four dimensions.

The difficult question is whether current testing accurately measures whether students are prepared for college.

Jon Marcus for the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit based at Teachers College, Columbia University that produces in-depth education journalism writes a guest post for the Washington Post, Many students could skip remedial classes, studies find.

Caralee J. Adams reports in the Education Week article, Community Colleges Rethink Placement Tests:

College-placement tests can make or break a student’s career. Yet few students prepare for them, and there’s little evidence to suggest the tests even do what they’re designed to do.

Now, some community colleges are looking for alternatives. Some are switching to high school grades or revamping assessments, while others are working with high schools to figure out students’ college readiness early so they have time to catch up if necessary….

To get a quick snapshot of incoming students’ knowledge, community colleges commonly use the computer-based Compass by ACT Inc. and the College Board’s AccuplacerRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader. Results are used to determine which courses students can enroll in as freshmen. When students fail those tests, they are put in developmental or remedial courses and often don’t get out. Concerns over the placement process are rising as new research challenges its predictive value and student success continues to lag.

The national nonprofit Jobs For the Future convened a group of experts on the issue last spring to discuss de-emphasizing high-stakes placement tests, changing those exams, and supporting students who are required to take them. “There are going to be multiple answers,” said Gretchen Schmidt, a program director at JFF in Boston. “This is part of a broader conversation about reforming developmental education. It can’t be considered as a stand-alone component.”

Down and Out

The push to get more students through college has policymakers looking closely at bottlenecks in the system. Developmental education is one of them. When students have to pay for classes, but don’t receive credit, it can be demoralizing and hurt their chances of completion.

About 60 percent of recent high school graduates at two-year colleges take a developmental education course. Students who go right into credit-bearing classes have a 40 percent chance of finishing within eight years, while those who take a developmental course have less than a 25 percent chance, according to research by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University.

While state policymakers are attuned to placement concerns, many institutions continue to use the traditional tests because they aren’t aware of the latest research and don’t view the issue as a primary problem, said Melinda Karp, a senior research associate at the center. “They say, ‘The test is imperfect, but I can’t do better,’ ” she said.

It is largely an issue at community colleges, which have open enrollment, as opposed to four-year institutions with selective admissions policies. Resources are stretched, and a widespread change would take time and money….

Some campuses are sticking with the traditional placement tests but ramping up preparation. This year, the Community College of Denver published a 20-page workbook for students to review the material on the Accuplacer test, and set up free tutoring sessions. For those who end up in developmental education, professors do a first-day diagnosis to make sure the students are in the right level and figure out what additional supports are needed…

Recent research by the Center for Community College Student Engagement found only 28 percent of students surveyed said they prepared for the placement tests with materials provided by the college. In the institutional survey, 44 percent of the 187 colleges that responded offer some kind of test prep. Of those, just 13 percent make it mandatory for all first-time incoming students.

There is growing acknowledgment that students shouldn’t take a placement test blindly, said Andrea Venezia, a senior research associate with WestEd, a nonprofit education research organization based in San Francisco. “If a student comes in and does worse than they thought, they may be told they have to wait a year to retake it,” she said. “Some are shopping around to retake it faster elsewhere. … It calls for a more systematic approach.”

Complete College America has completed the report, Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere which examines college remediation programs.

Here are the recommendations from the report, Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere:

Students should be college-ready upon graduating high school. However, colleges and universities

have a responsibility to fix the broken remedial system that stops so many from succeeding.

Adopt and implement the new Common Core State Standards in reading, writing, and math. These voluntary standards, currently supported by more than 40 states, offer multiple opportunities for

states and sectors to work together to:

Align high school curriculum to first-year college courses;

Develop bridge courses; and

Create support programs to help students make a smooth transition to college.

Align requirements for entry-level college courses with requirements for high school diplomas. Academic requirements for a high school diploma should be the floor for entry into postsecondary education.

K–12 and higher education course-taking requirements should be aligned. Provide 12th grade courses designed to prepare students for college level math and English.

Administer college-ready anchor assessments in high school.

These tests give students, teachers, and parents a clear understanding about whether a student is on track for college. Giving these assessments as early as 10th grade enables juniors and seniors to address academic deficiencies before college.

Use these on-track assessments to develop targeted interventions.

K–12 systems and local community colleges or universities can develop programs that guarantee that successful students are truly college ready and exempt from remedial education as freshmen.

Use multiple measures of student readiness for college.

Recognize that current college placement assessments are not predictive and should be supplemented with high school transcripts to make recommendations for appropriate first year courses.

Have all students taking placement exams receive a testing guide and practice test and time to brush up on their skills before this: Some statesuring that more


2012 Remediation Report


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.”


States Push Remedial Education to Community Colleges

What are ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks?                      

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                          

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                       

Parents can use tax deductions to pay for special education needs

24 Oct

Moi discussed special education in Fordham Institute study: Spending and special education   In Survey: Most people don’t know what a learning disability is, moi said:

The University of Michigan Health System has a great guide, Learning Disabilities:

What are learning disabilities (LD)?
If your child is not doing as well in school as they have the potential to, they may have a
learning disability. Having a learning disability means having a normal intelligence but a problem in one or more areas of learning.

A learning disability is a neurobiological disorder; people with LD have brains that learn differently because of differences in brain structure and/or function.  If a person learns differently due to visual, hearing or physical handicaps, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage, we do not call it a learning disability.

Some people with LD also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

LDs can affect many different areas:

  • Spoken language—problems in listening and speaking

  • Reading—difficulties decoding or recognizing words or understanding them

  • Written language—problems with writing, spelling, organizing ideas

  • Math—trouble doing arithmetic or understanding basic concepts

  • Reasoning—problems organizing and putting together thoughts

  • Memory—problems remembering facts and instructions

  • Social behavior—difficulties with social judgment, tolerating frustration and making friends

  • Physical coordination—problems with handwriting, manipulating small objects, running and jumping

  • Organization—trouble with managing time and belongings, carrying out a plan

  • Metacognition (thinking about thinking)—problems with knowing, using and monitoring the use of thinking and learning strategies, and learning from mistakes

Why is early diagnosis and treatment so important?
When LDs are not found and treated early on, they tend to snowball.  As kids get more and more behind in school, they may become more and more frustrated, feeling like a failure. Often, self-esteem problems lead to bad behavior and other problems.  High school dropout rates are much higher for students with LDs than for those without
[1].   These educational differences, in turn, affect the job and earnings prospects for people with LDs.  When LD is not noticed or not treated, it can cause adult literacy problems.   By identifying LDs early, your child will get the help they need to reach their potential.

How common are learning disabilities?
Educators estimate that between 5 and 10 percent of kids between ages 6 and 17 have learning disabilities
[2]. More than half of the kids receiving special education in the United States have LDs [3]. Dyslexia is the most common LD; 80 percent of students with LDs have dyslexia [4].

What causes learning disabilities?
Because there are lots of kinds of learning disabilities, it is hard to diagnose them and pinpoint the causes. LDs seem to be caused by the brain, but the exact causes are not known. Some
risk factors are:

  • Heredity

  • Low birth weight, prematurity, birth trauma or distress

  • Stress before or after birth

  • Treatment for cancer or leukemia

  • Central nervous system infections

  • Severe head injuries

  • Chronic medical illnesses, like diabetes or asthma

  • Poor nutrition

LDs are not caused by environmental factors, like cultural differences, or bad teaching.

When your child is diagnosed with a LD, the most important thing is not to look back and try to figure out if something went wrong. Instead, think about moving forward and finding help.

Once a learning disability has been diagnosed there are steps parents can take to advocate for their child. Scholastic has great advice for parents in the article, Falling Behind With a Learning Disability.

Schools often test children to determine whether a child has a learning disability. Often parents may want to have an independent evaluation for their child.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that parents may be able to deduct some expenses associated with the expenses of their special needs child.

In Special Tax Deductions for Special Education, the WSJ reports:

There are numerous tax breaks for education, but the most important one for many special-needs students isn’t an education break per se. Instead, it falls under the medical-expense category.

Although students with disabilities have a right to a “free and appropriate” public education by law, some families opt out and others pay for a range of supplemental therapies.

Such families can use Uncle Sam’s medical-expense deduction for help coping with costs, say experts. But many parents and tax advisers overlook it.

“Parents are busy helping their children, and tax preparers often don’t ask about medical expenses unless the taxpayer is old or ill,” says Bernard Krooks, a New York attorney who is past president of the Special Needs Alliance, a nonprofit group with members specializing in disability law.

In fact, tax rules allow medical deductions for “diagnosis, cure, mitigation, or treatment…primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness” (IRS publication 502).

That can include the cost of a school or program if prescribed by a licensed health-care professional. It might even cover costs for a special two-year college certificate program for students with severe learning disabilities, such as the Reach program run by the University of Iowa, which costs as much as $40,000 a year.

The deduction also can be used for additional therapies. Regina Levy, a Los Angeles CPA with two special-needs children, offers a partial list: occupational therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, physical therapy, social-skills groups and “hippotherapy” (horseback riding), among others.

Beyond Taxes

IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, can be found at Here’s where to find other help:

Here is information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):

Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses

This publication explains the itemized deduction for medical and dental expenses that you claim on Schedule A (Form 1040). It discusses what expenses, and whose expenses, you can and cannot include in figuring the deduction. It explains how to treat reimbursements and how to figure the deduction. It also tells you how to report the deduction on your tax return and what to do if you sell medical property or receive damages for a personal injury.

Medical expenses include dental expenses, and in this publication the term “medical expenses” is often used to refer to medical and dental expenses.

You can deduct on Schedule A (Form 1040) only the part of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). If your medical and dental expenses are not more than 7.5% of your AGI, you cannot claim a deduction.

This publication also explains how to treat impairment-related work expenses, health insurance premiums if you are self-employed, and the health coverage tax credit that is available to certain individuals.

Current Products

Publication 502 (HTML)

Recent Developments

Corrections to 2011 Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses – 15-FEB-2012

Other Items You May Find Useful:

All Publication 502 Revisions

Publication 969, Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans

Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

Schedule A (Form 1040), Itemized Deductions

Form 8853, Archer MSAs and Long-Term Care Insurance Contracts

Form 8885, Health Coverage Tax Credit

Other Current Products

Comment on Publication 502Send us an email or use the Comment on Tax Forms and Publications web submission form to provide us feedback on the content of the products we give you to help you comply with tax law.

Caution: If you have a tax-related question, please go to Help With Tax Questions or call our toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040 (Individuals) or 1-800-829-4933 (Business). We cannot respond to tax-related questions submitted from this page.

Although we cannot respond individually to each email, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 2012-08-04

All Children Have A Right to A Good Basic Education.


Early warning signs of a learning disability

How to know if your child has a learning disability

If You Suspect a Child Has a Learning Disability

Learning Disabilities in Children                          

Learning Disabilities (LD)                                               

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                       

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                      

Johns Hopkins study finds ‘Positive Behavior Intervention’ improves student behavior

22 Oct

Moi wrote about Positive Behavior Intervention (PBIS) in A strategy to reduce school suspensions: ‘School Wide Positive Behavior Support’ Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has released an randomized control study about the impact of PBIS. Science Daily reports about the study in the article, School-Wide Interventions Improve Student Behavior:

The study, conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is the first randomized control trial to examine the impact of SWPBIS programs over multiple school years.

The results were published October 15 in the journal Pediatrics as an eFirst publication.

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

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

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

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

See, Schools Deploying Positive Behavioral Interventions Improve


Effects of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports on Child Behavior Problems

  1. Catherine P. Bradshaw, PhD, MEd,
  2. Tracy E. Waasdorp, PhD, MEd, and
  3. Philip J. Leaf, PhD

+ Author Affiliations

  1. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, Baltimore, Maryland


OBJECTIVE: School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) is a universal prevention strategy currently implemented in >16 000 schools across the United States. SWPBIS intends to reduce students’ behavior problems by altering staff behaviors and developing systems and supports to meet children’s behavioral needs. The current study reports intervention effects on child behaviors and adjustment from an effectiveness trial of SWPBIS.

METHODS: The sample of 12 344 elementary school children was 52.9% male, 45.1% African American, and 46.1% Caucasian. Approximately 49% received free or reduced-priced meals, and 12.9% received special education services at baseline. The trial used a group randomized controlled effectiveness design implemented in 37 elementary schools. Multilevel analyses were conducted on teachers’ ratings of children’s behavior problems, concentration problems, social-emotional functioning, prosocial behavior, office discipline referrals, and suspensions at 5 time points over the course of 4 school years.

RESULTS: The multilevel results indicated significant effects of SWPBIS on children’s behavior problems, concentration problems, social-emotional functioning, and prosocial behavior. Children in SWPBIS schools also were 33% less likely to receive an office discipline referral than those in the comparison schools. The effects tended to be strongest among children who were first exposed to SWPBIS in kindergarten.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings provide support for the hypothesized reduction in behavior problems and improvements in prosocial behavior and effective emotion regulation after training in SWPBIS. The SWPBIS framework appears to be a promising approach for reducing problems and promoting adjustment among elementary school children.

PBIS appears to be a strategy that works to reduce the number of suspensions and disciplinary actions.

Crisis Prevention defines Positive Behavior Intervention:

What Is PBIS?

There are many ways to define or explain the concept of PBIS. Some of the most common ways include:

  • The application of behavior analysis and systems change perspectives within the context of person-centered values to the intensely social problems created by behaviors such as self-injury, aggression, property destruction, pica, defiance, and disruption (1).
  • A dynamic, problem-solving process involving goal identification, information gathering, hypothesis development, support plan design, implementation, and monitoring (2).
  • An approach that blends values about the rights of people with disabilities with a practical science about how learning and behavior change occur (1).

Top 10 Positive Behavior Support (PBIS) Online Resources

A comprehensive Positive Behavior Support Plan includes a range of intervention strategies that are designed to prevent the problem behavior while teaching socially appropriate alternative behaviors. The goal is an enhanced quality of life for individuals involved and their support providers in a variety of settings.  

The key features of PBIS, as identified by a pioneer in the field, George Sugai, include (6):

  • A prevention-focused continuum of support
  • Proactive instructional approaches to teaching and improving social behaviors
  • Conceptually sound and empirically validated practices
  • Systems change to support effective practices
  • Data-based decision making.

The June 2003 Executive Summary titled “Research Synthesis on Effective Intervention Procedures” from the University of South Florida Center for Evidence-Based Practice: Young Children with Challenging Behavior lists the categories of PBIS as (3):

  • Functional Behavioral Assessment and assessment-based interventions
  • Functional communication training
  • Self-management/monitoring
  • Choice making

Download our Positive Behavior Support Alignment [PDF] that shows the correlation between PBIS concepts, premises, and strategies and the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program.

In Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure, moi said:

Family First Aid has a good discussion about the types of behavior problems that result in suspension or expulsion.  Dore Francis has a guide, which lists what parents should do if their child is suspended. The guide gives detailed instructions to these steps and other steps. Francis also lists what questions to ask after meeting with school officials.

Additionally, Family First Aid discusses the education questions a parent or guardian should ask when their child has been permanently excluded from a school setting because of behavior problems. 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.


Association for Positive Behavior Support                                

Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional   Intervention for Young Children


The Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative

Jonathan Cohn’s ‘The Two Year Window’

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                     

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                       

Do online badges give a more realistic appraisal than grades?

21 Oct

Moi discussed free online universities in Can free online universities change the higher education model?

Beckie Supiano and Elyse Ashburn have written With New Lists, Federal Government Moves to Help Consumers and Prod Colleges to Limit Price Increases in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the U.S. Department of Education’s new site about college costs. As college becomes more unaffordable for more and more people, they are looking at alternatives to college.

Jon Marcus reports in the Washington Post article, Online course start-ups offer virtually free college:

An emerging group of entrepreneurs with influential backing is seeking to lower the cost of higher education from as much as tens of thousands of dollars a year to nearly nothing.

These new arrivals are harnessing the Internet to offer online courses, which isn’t new. But their classes are free, or almost free. Most traditional universities have refused to award academic credit for such online studies.

Now the start-ups are discovering a way around that monopoly, by inventing credentials that “graduates” can take directly to employers instead of university degrees.

If I were the universities, I might be a little nervous,” said Alana Harrington, director of Saylor.
, a nonprofit organization based in the District. Established by entrepreneur Michael Saylor, it offers 200 free online college courses in 12 majors.

Another nonprofit initiative is Peer-to-Peer University, based in California. Known as P2PU, it offers free online courses and is supported by the Hewlett Foundation and Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox Web browser.

A third is University of the People, also based in California, which offers more than 40 online courses. It charges students a one-time $10 to $50 application fee. Among its backers is the Clinton Global Initiative.

The content these providers supply comes from top universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, Tufts University and the University of Michigan. Those are among about 250 institutions worldwide that have put a collective 15,000 courses online in what has become known as the open-courseware movement.

The universities aim to widen access to course content for prospective students and others. At MIT, a pioneer of open courseware, half of incoming freshmen report that they’ve looked at MIT online courses and a third say it influenced their decision to go there.

The New York Times reported about the online education trend in the article, Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path to a College Degree

Often these online ventures will offer a certificate or badge to show completion of a course of study. Education Portal defines the difference between a certificate and diploma:

Certificate Overview

A certificate is earned by a student after taking a series of courses relating to a subject. Students often earn certificates to get a step ahead in the professional field of their interest and certificates may be offered in similar programs as degrees. For instance, there are certificates in business, literature and technical programs. In some technical programs, a certificate may be required.

There are also graduate certificates, often taken either alone or alongside a graduate degree program. In some programs, the student may use his or her electives to fulfill a certificate in order to make him or herself more desirable to a potential employer.

Certificate programs taken alone are similar to associate’s degree programs. However, they take less time because core academic programs are not required.

Diploma Overview

Diplomas are similar to certificates but often earned at clinical schools. For instance, a diploma of nursing is offered as an option besides an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. This diploma program is only offered at hospitals with specialty programs that provide training. A diploma often takes two years and involves as much clinical work as classroom.

Degree Overview

An academic degree can be earned at many levels, including associate’s, which takes two years, bachelor’s, which takes four years, master’s, which is two years beyond a bachelor’s degree, and doctoral, which is several years beyond a master’s degree.

A degree program differs from certificates and diploma programs in that it often requires the student to take core courses to support a more rounded education. For instance, at many universities, those earning their bachelor’s degree are required to take English, math, science, philosophy and history. Earning a degree also opens up many more potential doors to the student than would a certificate or diploma. Many careers require that the student has earned at least a bachelor’s degree; several career options require more than this.

Some online universities are awarding badges. Lynn O’Shaughnessy reports in the U.S. News article, Digital Badges Could Significantly Impact Higher Education.                                                                                                            

There is increasing pressure on colleges to look at ways of containing college costs.

Jeffrey R. Young has written an interesting Chronicle of Higher Education article, Grades Out, Badges In:

Grades are broken. Students grub for them, pick classes where good ones come easily, and otherwise hustle to win the highest scores for the least learning. As a result, college grades are inflated to the point of meaninglessness—especially to employers who want to know which diploma-holder is best qualified for their jobs.

That’s a viewpoint driving experiments in education badges. Offered mostly by online start-ups, the badges are modeled on the brightly colored patches on Boy Scout uniforms but are inspired primarily by video games: Just as most video games offer ways for players to “level up” frequently, to keep them excited, most education-badge projects involve rewarding achievements more fine-tuned than passing (or acing) a course. In a remedial math course, for instance, a badge might be awarded for mastering a concept, whether “surface area” or “median and mode.” Or badges might certify soft skills not usually measured at all in college courses, like teamwork or asking good questions.

So what if colleges replaced grades with badges?Erin Knight, leader of an education-badge project run by the Mozilla Foundation that provides a platform for students to display such badges on their Web sites, argues that grades shift students’ goals from learning to earning, because the stakes are so high when the result of an entire course is reduced to a single letter.

“If you tell people in a class to blog because they’re going to get a grade for it, they will do that,” she said in a recent interview in The Chronicle’s technology podcast. “But the types of interaction and participation you’re going to see are going to be very different than if it’s organic and people feel like they’re a community of learners and really want to contribute and have their own voice.”

One key benefit of education badges could simply be communicating what happens in the classroom in a more employer-friendly form…

employers do end up hitting the “like” button on badges, they may challenge the need for traditional college degrees altogether. If a student can sew enough patches on his or her online résumé from courses at a variety of institutions, why stay at one place for four years just to get a certificate suitable for framing?

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. In answer to the question of whether online college is a threat to traditional bricks and mortar universities, it depends. The market will answer that question because many students do not attend college to receive a liberal arts education, but to increase employment opportunities. If the market accepts badges and certificates, then colleges may be forced to look at the costs associated with a traditional college degree.


Study: What skills are needed for ’21st-century learning?’

Online K-12 education as a cash cow for ‘Wall Street’

Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person

Producing employable liberal arts grads                    

Borrowing from work: Schools teach career mapping

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                       

Dr. Wilda ©