Archive | June, 2014

University of Colorado Boulder study: Children need flexible play time

29 Jun

Creativity is important in finding solutions to problems. In What is a creativity index and why are states incorporating the index into education? moi wrote: The Martin Prosperity Institute of the University of Toronto began studying the “creativity index” several years ago. Here is a portion of the summary for their report, Creativity and Prosperity: The Global Creativity Index:

The economic crisis has challenged popular conceptions of economic growth, both in terms of what it is and how to measure it. While engendering growth and bolstering competitiveness remain high on the agenda, immediate attention has shifted to creating jobs, lifting wages, addressing inequality, and fostering long-term, sustainable prosperity. This new edition of the Global Creativity Index (GCI), which we first introduced in 2004, provides a powerful lens through which to assess these issues….
Download Creativity and Prosperity: The Global Creativity Index. (2.68 MB)
Read “Towards a Broader Conception of Economic Competitiveness“, our MPInsight discussing the Global Creativity Index.
The question is whether creativity can or should be taught? One way of fostering creativity is allowing children to have flexible time.

Moi wrote In the rush to produce geniuses, are we forgetting the value of play: Children are not “mini mes” or short adults. They are children and they should have time to play, to dream, and to use their imagination. Dan Childs of ABC News reports in the story, Recess ‘Crucial’ for Kids, Pediatricians’ Group Says:

The statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest salvo in the long-running debate over how much of a young child’s time at school should be devoted to academics — and how much should go to free, unstructured playtime.
The authors of the policy statement write that the AAP “believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”
“The AAP has, in recent years, tried to focus the attention of parents, school officials and policymakers on the fact that kids are losing their free play,” said the AAP’s Dr. Robert Murray, one of the lead authors of the statement. “We are overstructuring their day. … They lose that creative free play, which we think is so important.”
The statement, which cites two decades worth of scientific evidence, points to the various benefits of recess. While physical activity is among these, so too are some less obvious boons such as cognitive benefits, better attention during class, and enhanced social and emotional development.

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment.

Hannah Goldberg wrote in the Time article, Study: Less-Structured Time Correlates to Kids’ Success:

Research found that young children who spend more time engaging in more open-ended, free-flowing activities display higher levels of executive functioning, and vice versa
Parents, drop your planners—a new psychological study released Tuesday found that children with less-structured time are likely to show more “self-directed executive functioning,” otherwise known as the “cognitive processes that regulate thought and action in support of goal-oriented behavior.”
Doctoral and undergraduate researchers at University of Colorado, Boulder, followed 70 children ranging from six to seven years old, measuring their activities. A pre-determined classification system categorized activities as physical or non-physical, structured and unstructured….


Original Research ARTICLE
Front. Psychol., 17 June 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00593
Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning
Jane E. Barker1*, Andrei D. Semenov1, Laura Michaelson1, Lindsay S. Provan1, Hannah R. Snyder2 and Yuko Munakata1
• 1Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
• 2Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA
Executive functions (EFs) in childhood predict important life outcomes. Thus, there is great interest in attempts to improve EFs early in life. Many interventions are led by trained adults, including structured training activities in the lab, and less-structured activities implemented in schools. Such programs have yielded gains in children’s externally-driven executive functioning, where they are instructed on what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. However, it is less clear how children’s experiences relate to their development of self-directed executive functioning, where they must determine on their own what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. We hypothesized that time spent in less-structured activities would give children opportunities to practice self-directed executive functioning, and lead to benefits. To investigate this possibility, we collected information from parents about their 6–7 year-old children’s daily, annual, and typical schedules. We categorized children’s activities as “structured” or “less-structured” based on categorization schemes from prior studies on child leisure time use. We assessed children’s self-directed executive functioning using a well-established verbal fluency task, in which children generate members of a category and can decide on their own when to switch from one subcategory to another. The more time that children spent in less-structured activities, the better their self-directed executive functioning. The opposite was true of structured activities, which predicted poorer self-directed executive functioning. These relationships were robust (holding across increasingly strict classifications of structured and less-structured time) and specific (time use did not predict externally-driven executive functioning). We discuss implications, caveats, and ways in which potential interpretations can be distinguished in future work, to advance an understanding of this fundamental aspect of growing up.
Read Full Text
Keywords: cognitive development, self-directed executive function, leisure time, unstructured activities, verbal fluency
Citation: Barker JE, Semenov AD, Michaelson L, Provan LS, Snyder HR and Munakata Y (2014) Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning. Front. Psychol. 5:593. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00593
Received: 04 February 2014; Accepted: 27 May 2014;
Published online: 17 June 2014.
Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning

Here is the press release from University of Colorado Boulder:

Kids whose time is less structured are better able to meet their own goals
June 19, 2014 •
Social Sciences
Children who spend more time in less structured activities—from playing outside to reading books to visiting the zoo—are better able to set their own goals and take actions to meet those goals without prodding from adults, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.
The study, published online in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, also found that children who participate in more structured activities—including soccer practice, piano lessons and homework—had poorer “self-directed executive function,” a measure of the ability to set and reach goals independently.
“Executive function is extremely important for children,” said CU-Boulder psychology and neuroscience Professor Yuko Munakata, senior author of the new study. “It helps them in all kinds of ways throughout their daily lives, from flexibly switching between different activities rather than getting stuck on one thing, to stopping themselves from yelling when angry, to delaying gratification. Executive function during childhood also predicts important outcomes, like academic performance, health, wealth and criminality, years and even decades later.”
The study is one of the first to try to scientifically grapple with the question of how an increase in scheduled, formal activities may affect the way children’s brains develop.
Munakata said a debate about parenting philosophy—with extremely rigid “tiger moms” on one side and more elastic “free-range” parents on the other—has played out in the media and on parenting blogs in recent years. But there is little scientific evidence to support claims on either side of the discussion.
Jane Barker, a CU-Boulder doctoral student working with Munakata and lead author of the study, said, “These are societally important questions that come up quite often in social commentary and casual conversations among parents. So it’s important to conduct research in this area, even if the questions are messy and not easy to investigate.”
For the study, parents of 70 6-year-olds recorded their children’s daily activities for a week. The scientists then categorized those activities as either more structured or less structured, relying on existing time-use classifications already used in scientific literature by economists.
“These were the best and the most rigorous classifications we could find,” Barker said. “They still fail to capture the degree of structure within specific activities, but we thought that was the best starting point because we wanted to connect this with prior work.”
In that classification system, structured activities include chores, physical lessons, non-physical lessons and religious activities. Less-structured activities include free play alone and with others, social outings, sightseeing, reading and media time. Activities that did not count in either category include sleeping, eating meals, going to school and commuting.
The children also were evaluated for self-directed executive function with a commonly used verbal fluency test.
The results showed that the more time children spent in less structured activities, the better their self-directed executive function. Conversely, the more time children spent in more structured activities the poorer their self-directed executive function.
Because some of the existing time-use categories might not reflect the real amount of structure involved in an activity, the researchers also did several rounds of recalculation after removing categories that were questionable. In each case the findings still held. For example, the time-use categories classify media screen time as unstructured, but the degree of structure depends on whether a child is watching a movie or playing a video game. However, when media time was removed from the data, the results were the same.
“This isn’t perfect, but it’s a first step,” said Munakata. “Our results are really suggestive and intriguing. Now we’ll see if it holds up as we push forward and try to get more information.”
The researchers emphasize that their results show a correlation between time use and self-directed executive function, but they don’t prove that the change in self-directed executive function was caused by the amount of structured or unstructured time. The team is already considering a longitudinal study, which would follow participants over time, to begin to answer the question of cause.
Other study co-authors are undergraduate alumnus Andrei Semenov, doctoral student Laura Michaelson and professional research assistant Lindsay Provan, all from CU-Boulder, and Hannah Snyder, a former CU-Boulder doctoral student and current postdoctoral researcher at the University of Denver. The study was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Read the study at
– See more at: Kids whose time is less structured are better able to meet their own goals | University of Colorado Boulder

We must not so over-schedule children that they have no time to play and to dream. Our goal as a society should be:

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


The ‘whole child’ approach to education

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

Louisiana study: Fit children score higher on standardized tests

Seattle Research Institute study about outside play

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University of Buffalo study: Caffeine affects boys and girls differently

22 Jun

Moi wrote about caffeine and children in Energy drinks may pose a danger:
The American Academy of Pediatrics is reported at its site, Healthy Children.Org in the study, Energy Drinks Can Harm Children:

Energy drinks may pose a risk for serious adverse health effects in some children, especially those with diabetes, seizures, cardiac abnormalities or mood and behavior disorders.
A new study, “Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults,” in the March issue of Pediatrics (published online Feb. 14), determined that energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit to children, and both the known and unknown properties of the ingredients, combined with reports of toxicity, may put some children at risk for adverse health events.
Youth account for half of the energy drink market, and according to surveys, 30 percent to 50 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks. Typically, energy drinks contain high levels of stimulants such as caffeine, taurine, and guarana, and safe consumption levels have not been established for most adolescents. Because energy drinks are frequently marketed to athletes and at-risk young adults, it is important for pediatric health care providers to screen for heavy use both alone and with alcohol, and to educate families and children at-risk for energy drink overdose, which can result in seizures, stroke and even sudden death.

Several deaths have been attributed to energy drinks.

The Washington Post reported in the article Energy drink popularity booms at college, despite health concerns:

A 2008 study of undergraduates at a large public university found that 39 percent of students had consumed at least one energy drink in the past month, with considerably higher rates for males and white students. The study, funded with a National Institute on Drug Abuse grant, noted that energy drink marketing tactics are “similar to those used to sell tobacco and alcohol to youths….”
Red Bull, which hit the country in the late 1990s, is credited with creating this industry using a Thai recipe. Today there are hundreds of energy drinks on the market, ranging from 1.93-ounce 5-Hour Energy shots to 32-ounce cans of Monster. Even Starbucks has gotten into the game, producing sparkling energy drinks and canned espresso beverages.
That proliferation has intensified debate about a long-standing question: Are energy drinks safe?
The focus of that question is often one of the main ingredients: caffeine. Energy drinks contain from 2.5 to 35.7 milligrams of caffeine per ounce; energy shots may have as much as 170 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, according to researchers.

As more young people consume energy drinks, more problems are occurring.

Alexandra Sifferlin reported in the Time article, Boys and Girls Are Impacted By Caffeine Differently:

New research shows even low doses of caffeine impact kids, and bodies of boys and girls react differently
Boys and girls’ bodies react differently to caffeine after they hit puberty, new research shows.
It’s established that caffeine consumption can increase blood pressure and lower heart rate in adults, and researchers from University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, have shown in the past that the same side effects happen in kids. This new research, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that the different ways caffeine affects males and females starts at puberty, with boys’ hearts more affected than girls’.
The researchers are unsure why exactly there are reaction differences—it could be due to hormones or other physiological factors—but it’s concerning since doses were low, at 1 and 2 mg/kg, and since caffeinated energy drinks are popular among kids and teens….
Currently, the FDA does not require the amount of caffeine in a product to be included on food labels. Since the FDA says caffeine is a natural chemical found in items like tea leaves and coffee beans, it’s regulated as an ingredient not a drug. Energy drinks are not regulated because they are sold as dietary supplements. A 2012 Consumer Reports review of 27 best-selling energy drinks found that 11 do not list caffeine content. Among those that do, the tested amount was on average 20% higher than what was on the label.
The FDA says 400 milligrams a day, about four or five cups of coffee, is generally not considered dangerous for adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages caffeine consumption among young kids and adolescents.
The latest study did have weaknesses, since its study group was primarily among white, middle class, and well educated, and they could not completely confirm that control groups were totally abstinent when it came to consuming caffeine. Still, the research is important as medical and governmental groups take a closer look at how the stimulant may be impacting children’s health.


Cardiovascular Responses to Caffeine by Gender and Pubertal Stage
1. Jennifer L. Temple, PhDa,b,
2. Amanda M. Ziegler, MPHa,
3. Adam Graczyk, MSa,
4. Ashley Bendlin, BSa,
5. Teresa Sion, BSa, and
6. Karina Vattana, BSa
+ Author Affiliations
1. aDepartment of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, and
2. bCommunity Health and Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
BACKGROUND: Caffeine use is on the rise among children and adolescents. Previous studies from our laboratory reported gender differences in the effects of caffeine in adolescents. The purpose of this study was to test the hypotheses that gender differences in cardiovascular responses to caffeine emerge after puberty and that cardiovascular responses to caffeine differ across the phases of the menstrual cycle.
METHODS: To test these hypotheses, we examined heart rate and blood pressure before and after administration of placebo and 2 doses of caffeine (1 and 2 mg/kg) in prepubertal (8- to 9-year-olds; n = 52) and postpubertal (15- to 17-year-olds; n = 49) boys (n = 54) and girls (n = 47) by using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-response design.
RESULTS: There was an interaction between gender and caffeine dose, with boys having a greater response to caffeine than girls. In addition, we found interactions between pubertal phase, gender, and caffeine dose, with gender differences present in postpubertal, but not in prepubertal, participants. Finally, we found differences in responses to caffeine across the menstrual cycle in postpubertal girls, with decreases in heart rate that were greater in the midfollicular phase and blood pressure increases that were greater in the midluteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that gender differences in response to caffeine emerge after puberty. Future research will determine the extent to which these gender differences are mediated by physiological factors, such as steroid hormones, or psychosocial factors, such as more autonomy and control over beverage purchases.

Here is the press release from the University of Buffalo:

Caffeine affects boys and girls differently after puberty, study finds
Jennifer Temple
“In this study, we were looking exclusively into the physical results of caffeine ingestion.”
Jennifer Temple, associate professor of exercise and nutrition science
University at Buffalo
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Caffeine intake by children and adolescents has been rising for decades, due in large part to the popularity of caffeinated sodas and energy drinks, which now are marketed to children as young as four. Despite this, there is little research on the effects of caffeine on young people.
One researcher who is conducting such investigations is Jennifer Temple, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions.
Her new study finds that after puberty, boys and girls experience different heart rate and blood pressure changes after consuming caffeine. Girls also experience some differences in caffeine effect during their menstrual cycles.
The study, “Cardiovascular Responses to Caffeine by Gender and Pubertal Stage,” will be published online June 16 in the July 2014 edition of the journal Pediatrics.
Past studies, including those by this research team, have shown that caffeine increases blood pressure and decreases heart rate in children, teens and adults, including pre-adolescent boys and girls. The purpose here was to learn whether gender differences in cardiovascular responses to caffeine emerge after puberty and if those responses differ across phases of the menstrual cycle.
Temple says, “We found an interaction between gender and caffeine dose, with boys having a greater response to caffeine than girls, as well as interactions between pubertal phase, gender and caffeine dose, with gender differences present in post-pubertal, but not in pre-pubertal, participants.
“Finally,” she says, “we found differences in responses to caffeine across the menstrual cycle in post-pubertal girls, with decreases in heart rate that were greater in the mid-luteal phase and blood pressure increases that were greater in the mid-follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.
“In this study, we were looking exclusively into the physical results of caffeine ingestion,” she says.
Phases of the menstrual cycle, marked by changing levels of hormones, are the follicular phase, which begins on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation, and the luteal phase, which follows ovulation and is marked by significantly higher levels of progesterone than the previous phase.
Future research in this area will determine the extent to which gender differences are mediated by physiological factors such as steroid hormone level or by differences in patterns of caffeine use, caffeine use by peers or more autonomy and control over beverage purchases, Temple says.
This double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-response study was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.
It examined heart rate and blood pressure before and after administration of placebo and two doses of caffeine (1 and 2 mg/kg) in pre-pubertal (8- to 9-year-old; n = 52) and post-pubertal (15- to 17-year-old; n = 49) boys (n = 54) and girls (n = 47).
Co-authors are Amanda M. Ziegler, project coordinator for the Nutrition and Health Research Lab, and graduate student Adam Gracyzk, both in the UB Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions; Ashley Bendlin, undergraduate student in the Environmental Studies Program and the Department of Psychology, UB College of Arts and Sciences; Theresa Sion, undergraduate student in family nursing, UB School of Nursing; and Karina Vattana, who recently graduated with a BS in biomedical sciences, UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
For an embargoed copy of the study, contact Noreen Steward,, American Academy of Pediatrics Department of Public Affairs. For an interview with the lead author, contact Patricia Donovan, Office of Communications, University at Buffalo, 716-645-4602 or
Media Contact Information
Patricia Donovan
Senior Editor, Arts, Humanities, Public Health, Social Sciences
Tel: 716-645-4602
– See more at: Caffeine affects boys and girls differently after puberty, study finds – News Center

Because children are still growing and developing, caffeine affects their development.

Diet Health Club has some excellent information in the article, Caffeine and Teenagers:

Café shops have become a common place for teen’s hangout. But they don’t realize that they are just sitting with a cup of fat, sugar and caffeine, unless they choose skim milk instead of cream in their coffee.
Side effects of caffeine on teenagers
1. Caffeine when taken in moderate amounts can increase mental alertness. However when taken in higher doses, it can cause anxiety, headaches, moods, dizziness and may also interfere with normal sleep. Caffeine when taken in very high dose can be very harmful to the body.
2. Caffeine is addictive and if stopped abruptly can cause many withdrawal symptoms like headache, irritability, temporary depression and muscle ache.
3. Regular caffeine consumption can reduce caffeine sensitivity that means the caffeine required is higher to achieve the same effects. Thus more caffeine a teenager consumes the more will be its need to feel the same effects.
4. Caffeine is a diuretic it causes water loss from the body (through urination). Especially in summers caffeine is a very bad choice and it may cause dehydration.
5. Caffeine is not stored in the body and is passed through the urine, but if the person is sensitive to caffeine he/she might feel its effects up to six hours.
6. Caffeine when consumed in large amounts can cause loss of calcium and potassium from the body that can lead to sore muscles and delayed recovery time after any exercise.
7. Some teenagers may be unaware of the fact that caffeine in high amounts can cause nervous disorders and may also aggravate heart problems.
Try to cut down the caffeine in your diet gradually; moderation is the key (amounts less than 100 milligrams). Include healthy options like fresh fruit juices, water, milk, flavored seltzer, decaffeinated soda or tea instead of caffeinated beverages, soft drinks, sodas and other caffeine rich drinks. Make sure to read the nutritional fact labels for caffeine content before consuming the product.

Children and teens should limit their caffeine intake.


Energy Drinks (Audio Description)

Nutrition and Sports

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Tulane University Medical School study: Family violence affects the DNA of children

17 Jun

Moi reported about the effect stress has on genes in Penn State study: Stress alters children’s genomes A Tulane Medical School study finds that family violence or trauma alters a child’s genomes.

Science Daily reported in the article, Family violence leaves genetic imprint on children:

A new Tulane University School of Medicine study finds that the more fractured families are by domestic violence or trauma, the more likely that children will bear the scars down to their DNA.
Researchers discovered that children in homes affected by domestic violence, suicide or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres, which is a cellular marker of aging, than those in stable households. The findings are published online in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes that keep them from shrinking when cells replicate. Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risks for heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, diabetes, mental illness and poor health outcomes in adulthood. Researchers took genetic samples from 80 children ages 5 to 15 in New Orleans and interviewed parents about their home environments and exposures to adverse life events….
The study found that gender moderated the impact of family instability. Traumatic family events were more detrimental to young girls as they were more likely to have shortened telomeres. There was also a surprising protective effect for boys: mothers who had achieved a higher level of education had a positive association with telomere length, but only in boys under 10.
Ultimately, the study suggests that the home environment is an important intervention target to reduce the biological impacts of adversity in the lives of young children, Drury said.


Family violence leaves genetic imprint on children
Date: June 17, 2014
Source: Tulane University
Children in homes affected by violence, suicide, or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres -— a cellular marker of aging — than those in stable households. The study suggests that the home environment is an important intervention target to reduce the biological impacts of adversity in the lives of young children.
Journal Reference:
1. S. S. Drury, E. Mabile, Z. H. Brett, K. Esteves, E. Jones, E. A. Shirtcliff, K. P. Theall. The Association of Telomere Length With Family Violence and Disruption. PEDIATRICS, 2014; 134 (1): e128 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-3415

Here is the press release from Tulane University:

Study: Family violence leaves genetic imprint on children
June 16, 2014
Keith Brannon
Phone: 504-862-8789
A new Tulane University School of Medicine study finds that the more fractured families are by domestic violence or trauma, the more likely that children will bear the scars down to their DNA.
Researchers discovered that children in homes affected by domestic violence, suicide or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres, which is a cellular marker of aging, than those in stable households. The findings are published online in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes that keep them from shrinking when cells replicate. Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risks for heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, diabetes, mental illness and poor health outcomes in adulthood. Researchers took genetic samples from 80 children ages 5 to 15 in New Orleans and interviewed parents about their home environments and exposures to adverse life events.
“Family-level stressors, such as witnessing a family member get hurt, created an environment that affected the DNA within the cells of the children,” said lead author Dr. Stacy Drury, director of the Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Laboratory at Tulane. “The greater the number of exposures these kids had in life, the shorter their telomeres were – and this was after controlling for many other factors, including socioeconomic status, maternal education, parental age and the child’s age.”
The study found that gender moderated the impact of family instability. Traumatic family events were more detrimental to young girls as they were more likely to have shortened telomeres. There was also a surprising protective effect for boys: mothers who had achieved a higher level of education had a positive association with telomere length, but only in boys under 10.
Ultimately, the study suggests that the home environment is an important intervention target to reduce the biological impacts of adversity in the lives of young children, Drury said.

See, School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children

Our goal as a society should be:
A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children

School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children

Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools’


About.Com’s Depression In Young Children

Psych Central’s Depression In Young Children

Psychiatric News’ Study Helps Pinpoint Children With Depression

Family Doctor’s What Is Depression?

WebMD’s Depression In Children

Healthline’s Is Your Child Depressed?

Medicine.Net’s Depression In Children

If you or your child needs help for depression or another illness, then go to a reputable medical provider. There is nothing wrong with taking the steps necessary to get well.

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Nature article: Does Graduate Record Exam pose a barrier to grad school admission for women and those of color

16 Jun

The Council of Graduate Schools report Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2002to 2012 by Leila M. Gonzales, Jeffrey R. Allum, and Robert S. Sowell describes enrollment in U.S. graduate schools. California State at Long Beach has an excellent description of the application process and a good description of the tests required:

Admissions Examinations
• Graduate Records Exam (GRE)
• Miller Analogies Test (MAT)
• Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
• Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)
• Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
• Dental Aptitude Test (DAT)
• Veterinary Aptitude Test (VAT)
• Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)
• Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)
• Teacher Testing (PRAXIS)
Plan to take the appropriate entrance examination during your junior year or at the latest during the fall of your senior year if you plan to go on to graduate school immediately after college….

Many women and students of color seem to be eliminated from admission to top graduate science programs by the Graduate Record Exam.

Manhattan Prep describes the Graduate Record Exam or GRE:

Basics: What is the GRE®?
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE®) is a standardized test used by graduate programs to help determine who gets in and who receives grants and fellowships. The exam comes in two types: the general exam, which covers a range of non-specific skills developed over a long period of time and years of schooling, and the subject tests, which test depth of knowledge in eight different fields. Worldwide, about half a million people take the general test each year, while a much smaller number takes the subject exams.
The general test is computer-based and consists of three sections, verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing. Verbal and quant are each scored on a scale of 130-170, in 1-point increments, plus a percentile rank. The writing section is scored on a scale of 0-6, in half-point increments. The test does not cover specifics in any field of study, but rather a set of skills thought to be important for prospective grad students.
The subject tests, on the other hand, are paper-based and administered 3 times a year. Unlike the general test, the subject test assumes extensive knowledge. Tests cover the following areas: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; Chemistry; Computer Science; Literature in English; Mathematics; Physics; and Psychology. To determine whether you should take the general test or one of these subject-specific exams, you’ll need to check with the programs where you’re applying. For any field without a subject test, you’ll take the general exam….

An article questions the influence of the GRE in the college admission process.

Charlie Tyson reported in the Inside Higher Education article, Is the GRE Too Influential?

The low numbers of female and minority students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields has been fodder for much debate. A new analysis argues that the GRE, a standardized test that most U.S. graduate schools require, is in part to blame.
An article published in the June 12 issue of Nature contends that U.S. universities place too much stress on the GRE when making decisions about graduate admissions. Casey Miller, an associate professor of physics at the University of South Florida, and Keivan Stassun, a professor of physics and astronomy at Vanderbilt University and Fisk University, write that admissions committees, by focusing too squarely on the GRE, are shortchanging women and under-represented minorities and also failing to admit the best students into their Ph.D. programs.
The GRE is a poor predictor of success in the sciences, Miller and Stassun argue. Studies find “only a weak correlation” between high GRE scores and ultimate success in STEM fields.
The test does, however, reflect traits that are unrelated to scholarly potential – such as socioeconomic status, the authors say. (The SAT, a standardized test used in college admissions, perennially receives similar criticisms that high performance on the test is an artifact of family wealth.) The physicists put it bluntly: “the GRE is a better indicator of sex and skin colour than of ability and ultimate success.”
On the quantitative portion of the test, women in the physical sciences score 80 points lower, on average, than men do, according to data from the Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the GRE. African-American test-takers score 200 points lower than whites on the quantitative section.
Some admissions committees, Miller and Stassun report, filter applications using GRE scores. For example, a committee might reject any applicant who has scored below 700 on the GRE’s 800-point quantitative section. This use of GRE scores threatens to delete otherwise qualified female, black and Latino candidates from the applicant pool, Miller and Stassun argue.
The ETS’s guidelines explicitly advise against using cut-off scores for admissions.
The authors argue that admissions committees should attempt to identify applicants who demonstrate “grit and diligence” by (for example) conducting interviews instead of relying so heavily on GRE scores….

Here is the press release from Nature:

A test that fails
• Casey Miller
• & Keivan Stassun
Nature 510, 303-304 (2014)

Published online
11 June 2014
This article was originally published in the journal Nature
A standard test for admission to graduate school misses potential winners, say Casey Miller and Keivan Stassun.
Universities in the United States rely too heavily on the graduate record examinations (GRE) — a standardized test introduced in 1949 that is an admissions requirement for most US graduate schools. This practice is poor at selecting the most capable students and severely restricts the flow of women and minorities into the sciences.
We are not the only ones to reach this conclusion. William Sedlacek, professor emeritus of education at the University of Maryland, College Park, who has written extensively on the issue, notes that studies find only a weak correlation between the test and ultimate success in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields. De-emphasizing the GRE and augmenting admissions procedures with measures of other attributes — such as drive, diligence and the willingness to take scientific risks — would not only make graduate admissions more predictive of the ability to do well but would also increase diversity in STEM.
Test disparities
The GRE, like most standardized tests, reflects certain demographic characteristics of test-takers — such as family socioeconomic status — that are unrelated to their intellectual capacity or academic preparation. The exam’s ‘quantitative score’ — the portion measuring maths acumen, which is most commonly scrutinized in admissions to STEM PhD programmes — correlates closely with gender and ethnicity (see ‘The great divide’). The effect is powerful. According to data from Educational Testing Service (ETS), based in Princeton, New Jersey, the company that administers the GRE, women score 80 points lower on average in the physical sciences than do men, and African Americans score 200 points below white people. In simple terms, the GRE is a better indicator of sex and skin colour than of ability and ultimate success.
These correlations and their magnitude are not well known to graduate-admissions committees, which have a changing rota of faculty members. Compounding the problem, some admissions committees use minimum GRE scores to rapidly filter applications; for example, any candidate scoring below 700 on the 800-point quantitative test section may be discarded. Using GRE scores to filter applicants in this way is a violation of ETS’s own guidelines.
This problem is rampant. If the correlation between GRE scores and gender and ethnicity is not accounted for, imposing such cut-offs adversely affects women and minority applicants. For example, in the physical sciences, only 26% of women, compared with 73% of men, score above 700 on the GRE Quantitative measure. For minorities, this falls to 5.2%, compared with 82% for white and Asian people.
” In simple terms, the GRE is a better indicator of sex and skin colour than of ability and ultimate success. ”
The misuse of GRE scores to select applicants may be a strong driver of the continuing under-representation of women and minorities in graduate school. Indeed, women earn barely 20% of US physical-sciences PhDs, and under-represented minorities — who account for 33% of the US university-age population — earn just 6%. These percentages are striking in their similarity to the percentage of students who score above 700 on the GRE quantitative measure.
Why is the GRE misused? Admissions committees are busy, and numerical rankings are easy to sort. We believe that faculty members also often presume that higher scores imply that the test-taker has a greater ability to become a PhD-level scientist. Yet research by ETS indicates that the predictive validity of the GRE tests is limited to first-year graduate-course grades, and even that correlation is meagre in maths-intensive STEM fields.
Why should graduate-admissions committees care about fixing the problem? First, diversity, in the form of individuals with different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences, is a key component of innovation and problem solving, a concept that business and industry have come to recognize. Less diversity in STEM graduate programmes means slower progress in tackling today’s scientific and technical challenges. Second, the overall PhD completion rate in US STEM graduate programmes is a disappointing 50%. Although graduate programmes certainly produce successful students who continue on to productive science careers, we think that many faculty members would agree that such a low PhD completion rate is a poor return on the investment in recruiting and training students. Indeed, STEM graduate programmes are failing not only from the diversity standpoint, but also from a success standpoint.
Alternative selection
So what should universities do? Instead of filtering by GRE scores, graduate programmes can select applicants on the basis of skills and character attributes that are more predictive of doing well in scientific research and of ultimate employability in the STEM workforce. Appraisers should look not only at indicators of previous achievements, but also at evidence of ability to overcome the tribulations of becoming a PhD-level scientist.
A few innovative PhD programmes, including the bridge programmes at the University of South Florida in Tampa and Fisk–Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee (in which we are involved) are doing this. They have achieved completion rates above 80%, well above the national average, and are greatly boosting participation by women and minorities (see Nature 504, 471–473; 2013). The admissions process includes an interview that examines college and research experiences, key relationships, leadership experience, service to community and life goals. The result is a good indication of the individual’s commitment to scientific research and a good assessment of traits such as maturity, perseverance, adaptability and conscientiousness atop a solid academic foundation. The combination of academic aptitude and these other competencies points to the likelihood of high achievement in graduate school and in a STEM career.
How have the students admitted to these courses performed? In the Fisk–Vanderbilt programme, 81% of the 67 students who have entered the programme — including 56 under-represented minorities and 35 women — have earned, or are making good progress towards, their PhDs. And all students who have completed PhDs are employed in the STEM workforce as postdocs, university faculty members or staff scientists in national labs or industry. From the standpoint of optimal outcomes — earning a PhD and obtaining employment in the STEM workforce — the GRE has proved irrelevant. Indeed, 85% of these young scientists would have been eliminated from consideration for PhD programmes by a GRE quantitative cut-off score of 700.
The only downside is that interviews take about 30 minutes each. But the number of interviews need not be large, and the tremendous insight garnered justifies the time. ETS is even marketing a tool for referees to evaluate applicants’ personal attributes. The company developed it in part as a response to calls from applicants and graduate programmes for alternative measures of student potential for long-term achievement that is not captured by GRE.
We often hear admissions committee members say, ‘We would admit women and minorities if they were qualified’. This mindset reflects long-standing admissions practices that systematically, if inadvertently, filter out women and minorities. At the same time, these practices are no better than a coin flip at identifying candidates with the potential — and the mettle — to earn a PhD.
Let us be frank: we believe that many STEM faculty members on admissions committees and upper-level administrators hold a deep-seated and unfounded belief that these test scores are good measures of ability, of potential for doing well in graduate school and of long-term potential as a scientist, and that students who score poorly on standardized exams are not likely to become PhD-level scientists. These assumptions are false.
This is not a call to admit unqualified students in the name of social good. This is a call to acknowledge that the typical weight given to GRE scores in admissions is disproportionate. If we diminish reliance on GRE and instead augment current admissions practices with proven markers of achievement, such as grit and diligence, we will make our PhD programmes more inclusive and will more efficiently identify applicants with potential for long-term success as researchers. Isn’t that what graduate school is about?

Dave Jameson wrote at the American Psychological Association site in the article, The GRE: What it tells us, and what it doesn’t:

Fortunately, the question of the GRE’s validity has spawned its own subgenre of academic literature. Culled from the empirical data published over the last decade, here are a few things we know — and don’t know — about how well this examination predicts the future.
• There’s no way to know whether a low GRE score translates into failure. Students with the lowest GRE scores aren’t admitted into graduate psychology programs, so they never become psychologists. As a result, there’s no way for researchers to know whether the very lowest-scoring students would have gone on to prove their predictors wrong. “It’s certainly true that there’s a restriction of range,” says Robert Sternberg, PhD, a psychologist and provost at Oklahoma State University who’s examined the GRE in his research. “If you had [greater] range, the predictive value of these studies would increase.” This catch-22 makes some researchers wonder why the GRE looms so large in admissions decisions to begin with.
• GRE scores do help reveal which students will do well in the classroom and which won’t. Many studies have found that students with lower GRE scores are more likely to fail their preliminary examinations. Students with total scores higher than 1,167 usually end up with better grade-point averages than their classmates, more published papers and better ratings from faculty, according to a 2004 study by Dale Phillips, PhD, and Kristen McAuliffe in the School Psychologist Newsletter (Vol. 52, No. 2). “Based on the data that’s out there, the GRE is consistently the strongest [predictor] we have of student success,” says Nathan Kuncel, PhD, author of a 2001 GRE meta-analysis published in Psychological Bulletin (Vol. 127, No. 1).
• The GRE’s predictive powers diminish over time. In his 1997 study published in American Psychologist, (Vol. 52, No. 6) Sternberg found that GRE scores tell us most about how students will perform in the first year of grad school. That’s because “you need the same kinds of skills in introductory courses as you do for the GRE,” he says — namely, the basics, such as general reading and quantitative skills — but not necessarily imagination. As grad school grinds on, more abstract skills become increasingly important — for instance, intuiting which journal would be most likely to accept a particular kind of paper. “The GRE doesn’t measure that,” says Sternberg.
• GRE scores are less reliable when it comes to predicting whether a student will eventually complete a psychology program. The exams may predict classroom performance fairly well, but grades aren’t everything. Several researchers have found that the GRE tells us less about whether someone will finish school. Phillips and McAuliffe, for instance, found that GRE scores didn’t differ much between students who eventually graduated and students who didn’t. “Nothing predicts finishing very well,” says Kuncel. In many cases, students drop out because of life circumstances — leaving to take care of an ailing parent, for example. Phillips’s and McAuliffe’s study support that claim: Only 9 percent of students who dropped out said it was because they couldn’t hack the coursework.
• The GRE’s subject test in psychology tells us the most about a student’s potential. Kuncel’s meta-analysis found that the subject test outperformed the verbal, quantitative and analytical tests when it came to predicting students’ grades and whether they’ll eventually earn a degree. “That only makes sense,” says Stephen J. Dollinger, PhD, a psychology professor at Southern Illinois University who’s studied the validity of the GRE. “The student who enters graduate school knowing more psychology should have an easier time starting a thesis [and] passing prelims.”

But the subject test — usually 205 multiple-choice questions — measures more than just psychology knowledge, says Kuncel. A student who is especially passionate about psychology may outperform a fellow student who has been deemed brighter by the GRE’s verbal and quantitative tests. Still, most master’s programs and about half of doctoral programs in psychology don’t insist that you take it. According to Kuncel, many admissions programs probably worry that they’d alienate prospective students by giving them another hoop to jump through.

“That’s the irony,” he says. “The best single predictor is also not required at many programs.” Still, Kuncel “highly recommend[s]” that prospective students take the test anyway, if only to convey their enthusiasm for the field.
In the end, your GRE score will certainly affect which program you get into, but it won’t necessarily predict how well you do once you get there…..

See, Decide Between GMAT, GRE

The question is how to teach critical thinking skills. David Carnes wrote the excellent Livestrong article, How to Build Critical Thinking Skills in Children.


What , if anything, do education tests mean?

Complete College America report: The failure of remediation

What the ACT college readiness assessment means

The importance of the National Assessment of Educational Progress

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Vanderbilt study: ‘No Child Left Behind’ not as bad for teachers as previously thought

11 Jun

Melanie Smollin has an excellent post at Take Part, Five Reasons Why Teacher Turnover Is On The Rise:

With approximately 1.6 million teachers set to retire in the next decade, replenishing America’s teaching force should be a top priority. But filling classrooms with new teachers is only half the battle. Retaining them is equally important.
Numerous studies show that teachers perform best after being in the classroom for at least five years. According to a McKinsey study, 14 percent of American teachers leave after only one year, and 46 percent quit before their fifth year. In countries with the highest results on international tests, teacher turnover rates are much lower—around 3 percent.
This constant cycling in and out of new teachers is a costly phenomena. Students miss being taught by experienced educators, and schools and districts nationwide spend about $2.2 billion per year recruiting and training replacements.
Why are so many new teachers fleeing the profession after so few years in the classroom? Here are the top five reasons teacher turnover is an ongoing challenge:
5. BURNOUT: A recent U.C. Berkeley study of Los Angeles charter schools found unusually high rates of teacher turnover. At the 163 charter schools studied, teacher turnover hovered around 40 percent, compared to 15 percent at traditional public schools…..
4.THREAT OF LAYOFFS: In response to annual budget shortfalls, districts nationwide have sent pink slips to tens of thousands of teachers each spring for the past four years. In 2011, California sent out 30,000….
3. LOW WAGES: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently said that teachers should earn between $60,000 and $150,000 per year. That’s a far cry from the current national average starting salary for teachers, which is $35,139….
2. TESTING PRESSURE: Since the No Child Left Behind Act was introduced in 2001, standardized test scores in math and reading have become the most important accountability measure used to evaluate schools….
1. POOR WORKING CONDITIONS: When the Gates foundation polled 40,000 teachers about job satisfaction, the majority agreed that supportive leadership, time for collaboration, access to high quality curriculum and resources, clean and safe buildings, and relevant professional development were even more important than higher salaries.
But working conditions in many public schools remain far from this ideal—especially for beginning teachers, who are most likely to be assigned to the highest-need schools. Despite the added challenges they face, these teachers are often given few resources and little professional support.

Since many teachers will be leaving the profession in the next few years, the question is what effect teacher departures have on students and are there traits of teachers who choose to remain in the classroom which should be studied.

Holly Yettick reported in the Education Week article, Study Links Teacher ‘Grit’ with Effectiveness, Retention:

In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about gritty students. Now grit researchers are turning their attention to teachers. In a study published in the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal Teachers College Record, University of Pennsylvania researchers Claire Robertson-Kraft and Angela Duckworth found that, for novice teachers in high-poverty school districts, higher levels of “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” (aka “grit”) were associated with higher rates of effectiveness and retention.
“No single factor alone should determine a hiring decision for a teacher,” said Robertson-Kraft, a doctoral candidate in education policy and former 3rd grade teacher. “But the study does suggest that grit is one factor that could be considered among many….”

According to a study by Jason A. Grissom, Vanderbilt University, Sean Nicholson-Crotty, Indiana University and James R. Harrington of the University of Texas at Dallas, the effect of teacher dissatisfaction with “No Child Left Behind” may have been overrated.

Rebecca Klein reported in the Huffington Post article, Turns Out No Child Left Behind May Have Actually Been Good For Teachers:

When Vanderbilt University professor Jason A. Grissom started exploring how the No Child Left Behind Act has affected teachers, he expected to find that the 2001 Bush-era law made their work harder.
“More testing, higher-stakes testing … a lot of teachers don’t like testing,” Grissom, an assistant professor of public policy and education, told The Huffington Post by phone.
However, after comparing a major teacher survey from the years before No Child Left Behind with more recent versions, Grissom and two fellow researchers found nearly the opposite to be true.
“We don’t find evidence of these big negative impacts that I think we and other people would expect to find,” Grissom said.
The study by Grissom, Sean Nicholson-Crotty of Indiana University, and James R. Harrington of University of Texas at Dallas, was released Tuesday in an American Educational Research Association article titled, “Estimating the Effects of No Child Left Behind on Teachers’ Work Environments and Job Attitudes.” The paper finds that since No Child Left Behind, teachers report feeling more autonomous, more supported by school administrators and have higher levels of job satisfaction. At the same time, teachers are working longer hours and may feel less cooperation with fellow educators.
While prior studies have looked at teachers’ views of the law, “most evidence on the matter has been gathered in limited or non-representative samples,” the researchers write. The National Center for Education Statistics’ Schools and Staffing Survey –- analyzed by Grissom and his colleagues –- is a nationally representative survey of K-12 teachers. The researchers compared the survey’s results from 1993-1994, 1999-2000, 2003-2004, and 2007-2008. They looked at responses to questions about the number of hours worked, autonomy, support, satisfaction and commitment.
No Child Left Behind requires annual statewide achievement tests to gauge whether schools meet performance goals. The paper points out that conventional wisdom generally holds that No Child Left Behind had a negative impact on classrooms. But the researchers found that “while teachers’ hours worked have increased, so have their feelings of classroom control and their perceptions of support from peers, administrators, and parents. Concomitantly, teacher job satisfaction and commitment to the profession appear to have increased over this time period as well….”


Estimating the Effects of No Child Left Behind on Teachers and Their Work Environment

Published online first in: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
June 10, 2014

Jason A. Grissom, Vanderbilt University
Sean Nicholson-Crotty, Indiana University
James R. Harrington, University of Texas at Dallas


Several recent studies have examined the impacts of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on school operations and student achievement. We complement that work by investigating the law’s impacts on teachers’ perceptions of their work environments and related job attitudes, including satisfaction and commitment to remain in teaching. Using four waves of the nationally representative Schools and Staffing Survey, which cover the period from 1994 to 2008, we document overall trends in teacher attitudes across this time period and take advantage of differences in the presence and strength of prior state accountability systems and differences in likely impacts on high- and low-poverty schools to isolate NCLB effects. Perhaps surprisingly, we show positive trends in many work environment measures, job satisfaction, and commitment across the time period coinciding with the implementation of NCLB. We find, however, relatively modest evidence of an impact of NCLB accountability itself. There is some evidence that the law has negatively affected perceptions of teacher cooperation but positively affected feelings of classroom control and administrator support. We find little evidence that teacher job satisfaction or commitment has changed in response to NCLB.

Read the full article

Here is the press release from Vanderbilt:

Study: ‘No Child Left Behind’ is getting a bad rap
by Joan Brasher | Posted on Tuesday, Jun. 10, 2014 — 8:47 AM
The commonly held notion that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has eroded teacher job satisfaction and undermined job retention is off the mark, according to new Vanderbilt research. A survey of 140,000 public school teachers yielded surprising results that may change public perception of this controversial reform, according to lead investigator Jason Grissom.
Grissom (Vanderbilt)
“The results of the study just don’t support the idea that No Child Left Behind has made teachers less satisfied with their jobs or less committed to staying in the teaching profession,” said Grissom, assistant professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development. “This may be because, as our findings suggest, NCLB has had some negative impacts on teachers’ work lives, but also some positive ones—which we don’t always think about—to balance them out.”
Overall, the data showed that the implementation of NCLB did not undermine job satisfaction and commitment to the profession. In fact, the percentage of teachers who said they intended to remain in the profession until retirement actually increased by 12 percent.
The results of the study were published online today in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.
Diving into the Data
Grissom analyzed a nationally representative sample of 140,000 regular, full-time public school teachers from four waves of the National Center for Education Statistics’ Schools and Staffing Survey. He measured the impact of NCLB on teachers’ job demands, perceived autonomy, workplace support and job satisfaction. Two of the waves collected data during the 1993-94 and 1999-00 academic years—prior to the NCLB’s implementation in 2002-03—while the other two did so during the 2003-04 and 2007-08 academic years.
Teachers’ Dedication is part of the Equation
Grissom, who partnered with researchers at Indiana University and University of Texas at Dallas to conduct the study, found that while there is some evidence that NCLB’s accountability pressures reduced feelings of cooperation among teachers, its implementation also may have improved their sense of classroom autonomy and administrator support.
“I don’t think you can discount that teachers are resilient,” Grissom explained. “They have come to expect policy change. Most of them got into teaching because they enjoy working with young people and want to make a difference in their lives. While for some teachers the mandates of NCLB were a distraction, the law didn’t fundamentally change that desire and ability to make a difference.”
As NCLB implementation continues to undergo changes and Congress works to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, “our research makes clear that administrators and policymakers can’t rely solely on conventional wisdom to evaluate a policy’s effect on teachers,” Grissom said.
Read the full abstract of this study.

Follow Jason Grissom on Twitter at @JasonAGrissom.
Joan Brasher, (615) 322-NEWS

Every population of kids is different and they arrive at school at various points on the ready to learn continuum. Schools and teachers must be accountable, but there should be various measures of judging teacher effectiveness for a particular population of children. Perhaps, more time and effort should be spent in developing a strong principal corps and giving principals the training and assistance in evaluation and mentoring techniques. Teachers must be compensated fairly for their work. Dave Eggers and NÍnive Clements Calegari have a provocative New York Times article, The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries The Center for American Progress has a report by Frank Adamson and Linda Darling Hammond, Speaking of Salaries: What It Will Take to Get Qualified, Effective Teachers In All Communities


No Child Left Behind A Parents Guide

MSNBC video: Why Do Good Teachers Leave?

Debate: Are Teachers’ Unions the Problem—or the Answer?

Quiet Riot: Insurgents Take On Teachers’ Unions,8599,2087980,00.html#ixzz1zgjC7qGS

Can Teachers Unions Do Education Reform?

Let a New Teacher-Union Debate Begin

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Promoting positive peer pressure: The Posse Foundation

7 Jun

Moi wrote in It’s the culture and the values, stupid:
Every week in the Seattle Stranger there is a column I, Anonymous , which gives one reader the chance to rant anonymously about any topic or person that has provoked such a reaction that venting and a good old fashion rant is necessary. Sometimes, the rants are poetic or touching. Most of the time, they are just plain hilarious. This is a past rant, which is from a teacher, not an educator:

I say hello with a big smile every morning as you shuffle in the door, but I secretly seethe with hatred for almost each and every one of you. Your stupidity and willful ignorance know no bounds. I have seen a lot of morons in my 10 years of teaching high school, but you guys take the cake. Your intellectual curiosity is nonexistent, your critical thinking skills are on par with that of a head trauma victim, and for a group of people who have never accomplished anything in their lives, you sure have a magnified sense of entitlement. I often wonder if your parents still wipe your asses for you, because you certainly don’t seem to be able to do anything on your own.
A handful of you are nice, sweet kids. That small group will go on and live a joyful and intellectual life filled with love, adventure, and discovery. The vast majority of you useless fuckwits will waste your life and follow in the footsteps of your equally pathetic parents. Enjoy your future of wage slavery and lower-middle-class banality.
Amazing how teachers are blamed for the state of education in this country. Look what you give us to work with. I am done trying to teach the unteachable.

Moi doesn’t blame most teachers for the state of education in this country, but puts the blame on the culture and the unprepared and disengaged parents that culture has produced. Moi also blames a culture of moral relativism as well which says there really are no preferred options. There are no boundaries, I can do what I feel is right for ME.

Carolee J. Adams reported in the Education Week article, Posse program puts social motivation to good use:

The Posse Foundation chooses diverse groups of high school seniors from nine major cities who have strong leadership skills and academic potential but who may not have stellar test scores and could be overlooked in the traditional college-selection process. Besides New York, the cities involved are: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, and Washington. The selected students are given full-tuition scholarships by one of 51 elite partner institutions, including Vanderbilt University in Nashville; Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; and the University of California, Berkeley. Last year, 15,000 students were nominated by their schools for 670 scholarships, which are not need-based.
It’s a sought-after scholarship, in part because of the results. While typical college-graduation rates hover around 57 percent, about 90 percent of Posse scholars finish in four years. And nearly 80 percent of Posse scholars have either founded an organization or been the president of an existing organization on campus.
The foundation has basked in some high-level attention of late. President Barack Obama mentioned the success of a Posse scholar in this year’s State of the Union Address and highlighted the foundation’s work at the recent White House summit on college access for disadvantaged students.
Rooted in Research
Research shows that cohort models and learning communities can help students academically and socially.
“Students who share an experience together, especially an educational one, tend to do better together,” said Vincent Tinto, the author of “Completing College: Rethinking Institutional Action” and a professor emeritus at Syracuse University, in New York. It’s critical to focus efforts on helping students get off to a solid start in the beginning of college, said Mr. Tinto. Of all students who leave college before getting a degree, nearly half do so before the start of the second year, he added.
The Posse Foundation is one of many initiatives that use social levers to motivate students. The nonprofit College for Every Student, based in Essex, N.Y., works with 20,000 students in 24 states to promote student success through peer mentoring and leadership training. The St. Paul, Minn.-based College Possible helps groups of low-income students navigate the college-application process together and extends that support with coaches through the first year of college. And, in an effort to retain students, campuses are trying peer-mentoring programs, among other interventions, to nurture perseverance….

Here is a bit about the Posse Program:

College Access and Leadership Development
Founded in 1989, Posse identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Posse extends to these students the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams—Posses—of 10 students. Posse partner colleges and universities award Posse Scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships.
A worthwhile investment
For 25 years, Posse partner colleges and universities have welcomed Posse Scholars onto their campuses. They have awarded an incredible $687 million in leadership scholarships to these young people and have seen their success not only as leaders on campus, but in these students’ 90 percent persistence and graduation rate. Posse’s partners are investing time, energy and resources in the promotion of equity in education and social justice. They believe in the intelligence, talent and dreams of young people who might not always show up on their radar screens, and are giving them a chance to excel.

Here is a bit about the career component:

Preparing Scholars to excel in the workforce
One of the primary aims of The Posse Foundation is to train the leaders of tomorrow. The Career Program provides Posse Scholars with the tools and opportunities needed to secure the most competitive and career-enhancing internships and jobs. In order to achieve this, Posse partners with exceptional companies and organizations worldwide. The Career Program has three core components: 1) The Internship Program, 2) Career Services, and 3) The Alumni Network.
Internship Program
The Career Program is a powerful way for industry-leading companies and organizations to make a significant contribution to the development of tomorrow’s leaders. Posse partners with these organizations, which in turn provide meaningful internship opportunities to Posse Scholars. These internships are essential to Scholars’ professional development and success. Many of these Career Partners offer a comprehensive program involving mentorship, professional development opportunities and performance evaluations. Posse currently has more than 175 career partners.
To apply for the Posse Summer Leadership Award, visit the Posse Job/Internship Board to review the guidelines for your Posse city. You will need to upload your resume and a completed PSLA application form onto the Posse Job/Internship Board for your application to be complete.
Career Services
Career Services offers career planning assistance to Posse Scholars. The Career Program develops workshops that focus on resume writing, interviewing skills and other professional development areas. These sessions are offered during the summer and winter breaks. This component aims to educate Posse Scholars about potential careers and to guide them through the process, from targeting an industry to securing a job.
Alumni Network
Posse alumni remain actively involved with the Foundation. As leaders, they are succeeding in a variety of fields in the workforce. Posse alumni are doctors, teachers, engineers, graduate students, lawyers, social workers and bankers. Of Posse alumni with two or more years of professional experience, 41 percent have a graduate degree or are currently pursuing a graduate degree. Posse alumni also act as an excellent resource for each other and for current Posse Scholars.

In Paul E. Peterson will piss you off, you might want to listen, moi said:
Moi has been saying for decades that the optimum situation for raising children is a two-parent family for a variety of reasons. This two-parent family is an economic unit with the prospect of two incomes and a division of labor for the chores necessary to maintain the family structure. Parents also need a degree of maturity to raise children, after all, you and your child should not be raising each other.

Moi said this in Hard truths: The failure of the family:
This is a problem which never should have been swept under the carpet and if the chattering classes, politicians, and elite can’t see the magnitude of this problem, they are not just brain dead, they are flat-liners. There must be a new women’s movement, this time it doesn’t involve the “me first” philosophy of the social “progressives” or the elite who in order to validate their own particular life choices espouse philosophies that are dangerous or even poisonous to those who have fewer economic resources. This movement must urge women of color to be responsible for their reproductive choices. They cannot have children without having the resources both financial and having a committed partner. For all the talk of genocide involving the response and aftermath of Katrina, the real genocide is self-inflicted. It is interesting that the ruling elites do not want to touch the issue of unwed births with a ten thousand foot pole. After all, that would violate some one’s right to _____. Let moi fill in the blank, the right to be stupid, probably live in poverty, and not be able to give your child the advantages that a more prepared parent can give a child because to tell you to your face that you are an idiot for not using birth control is not P.C.

It will not be popular on many fronts to acknowledge that motivation and effort are also part of the academic achievement solution.

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NBER working paper: Medicaid expansion leads to fewer high school dropouts

5 Jun

Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of society’s problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. There is a lot of economic stress in the country now because of unemployment and underemployment. Children feel the stress of their parents and they worry about how stable their family and living situation is.

The best way to eliminate poverty is job creation, job growth, and job retention. 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 a good bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview There will not be a good quality of life for most citizens without a strong education system. One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education in this state, we are the next third world country.

Shadee Ashtari reported in the Huffington Post article, Medicaid Expansion Leads To Fewer High School Dropouts And More College Graduates: Study:

Amid the ongoing debate over 24 states’ refusal to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, a recent report by the National Bureau of Economic Research has found that expanding health insurance coverage for low-income children resulted in fewer high school dropouts, higher college attendance rates and a better likelihood of attaining a bachelor’s degree.
Cornell and Harvard researchers examined the effects of Medicaid expansion among eligible children in the 1980s and 1990s in states that broadened their public insurance programs and concluded “better health is one of the mechanisms driving our results by showing that Medicaid eligibility when young translated into better teen health.” Better health, in turn, led to substantial long-term educational benefits.
According to the working paper, published in May, states that increased childhood Medicaid eligibility by 10 percent reduced high school dropout rates by 5.2 percent and increased college attendance and BA attainment by 1.1 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
After examining two decades of Medicaid eligibility expansion in various states, the authors argued that in addition to immediately improving children’s health statuses, public health expansion renders long-term benefits by working to reduce “inequality and higher economic growth that stems from the creation of a more skilled workforce.”
The researchers attributed the outcomes to two plausible explanations. First, children with health insurance benefited from healthier lifestyles -– they missed less school due to illness, were less likely to engage in risky sexual activity, had lower likelihoods of obesity and fewer mental health problems.
Indirectly, the authors explained that by spending less money on health care, low-income families eligible for Medicaid were able to shift a greater share of their resources toward helping their children succeed in school.
As of 2013, roughly 10 percent of children in the U.S. — or 7.9 million — remain uninsured. About 70 percent of them are eligible for coverage under Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Under the Affordable Care Act, that number is estimated to decrease by 40 percent.


The Effect of Child Health Insurance Access on Schooling: Evidence from Public Insurance Expansions
Sarah Cohodes, Samuel Kleiner, Michael F. Lovenheim, Daniel Grossman
NBER Working Paper No. 20178
Issued in May 2014
NBER Program(s): CH ED HC PE
Public health insurance programs comprise a large share of federal and state government expenditure, and these programs are due to be expanded as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Despite a large literature on the effects of these programs on health care utilization and health outcomes, little prior work has examined the long-term effects of these programs and resultant health improvements on important outcomes, such as educational attainment. We contribute to filling this gap in the literature by examining the effects of the public insurance expansions among children in the 1980s and 1990s on their future educational attainment. Our findings indicate that expanding health insurance coverage for low-income children has large effects on high school completion, college attendance and college completion. These estimates are robust to only using federal Medicaid expansions, and they are mostly due to expansions that occur when the children are older (i.e., not newborns). We present suggestive evidence that better health is one of the mechanisms driving our results by showing that Medicaid eligibility when young translated into better teen health. Overall, our results indicate that the long-run benefits of public health insurance are substantial.

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The increased rate of poverty has profound implications if this society believes that ALL children have the right to a good basic education. Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Because children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family.


Hard times are disrupting families

3rd world America: The link between poverty and education

3rd world America: Money changes everything

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University of St. Thomas study: Sleep problems equal to marijuana use and drinking in predicting poor academic performance in college

4 Jun

Moi has posted quite a bit about the effect of sleep deprivation on children and teens. A study of older men published in the Journal Sleep details the effect of sleep deprivation on older men. The bottom line is that no matter one’s age, in order to fully function, people need adequate rest. See, Study: Poor sleep quality can lead to cognitive problems in older men

Sarah Klein reported in the Huffington Post article, Sleep Problems Equal To Binge Drinking, Marijuana Use In Predicting Poor Academic Performance:

While the temptations to stay up late are many, a small new study suggests a very good reason for college students to hit the hay. Those who are poor sleepers are more likely to get worse grades and to withdraw from a course, according to a new study. In fact, the effects of poor sleep were about as strong as binge drinking and marijuana use on a student’s academic performance.
The researchers analyzed data from over 43,000 students included in the spring 2009 American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment (NCHA). After controlling for potentially confounding factors that might predict how a college student fares academically, like clinical depression, feelings of isolation or chronic health problems, the researchers found that getting poor sleep was a strong predictor of problems at school.
While few students are likely to have a clinical sleep disorder, Roxanne Prichard, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota tells The Huffington Post, about 60 percent say they have some kind of problem sleeping. But for all the effort colleges put into anti-drinking and de-stressing campaigns, little time or money is spent to promote better sleep — and doing so could help both students and the colleges themselves, she says….


Poor sleep equal to binge drinking, marijuana use in predicting academic problems

Date: June 2, 2014
Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine
College students who are poor sleepers are much more likely to earn worse grades and withdraw from a course than healthy sleeping peers, new research shows. Results show that sleep timing and maintenance problems in college students are a strong predictor of academic problems. The study also found that sleep problems have about the same impact on grade point average (GPA) as binge drinking and marijuana use.
See, Poor sleep equal to binge drinking, marijuana use in predicting academic problems

Here is the press release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:

American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Sunday, June 1, 2014

CONTACT: Lynn Celmer, 630-737-9700, ext. 9364,

Poor sleep equal to binge drinking, marijuana use in predicting academic problems
DARIEN, IL – A new study shows that college students who are poor sleepers are much more likely to earn worse grades and withdraw from a course than healthy sleeping peers.
Results show that sleep timing and maintenance problems in college students are a strong predictor of academic problems even after controlling for other factors that contribute to academic success, such as clinical depression, feeling isolated, and diagnosis with a learning disability or chronic health issue. The study also found that sleep problems have about the same impact on grade point average (GPA) as binge drinking and marijuana use. Its negative impact on academic success is more pronounced for freshmen. Among first-year students, poor sleep— but not binge drinking, marijuana use or learning disabilities diagnosis—independently predicted dropping or withdrawing from a course. Results were adjusted for potentially confounding factors such as race, gender, work hours, chronic illness, and psychiatric problems such as anxiety.
“Well-rested students perform better academically and are healthier physically and psychologically,” said investigators Roxanne Prichard, PhD, associate professor of psychology and Monica Hartmann, professor of economics at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented Tuesday, June 3, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at SLEEP 2014, the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.
Data from the Spring 2009 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment (NCHA) were analyzed to evaluate factors that predict undergraduate academic problems including dropping a course, earning a lower course grade and having a lower cumulative GPA. Responses from over 43,000 participants were included in the analysis.
According to Prichard, student health information about the importance of sleep is lacking on most university campuses.
“Sleep problems are not systematically addressed in the same way that substance abuse problems are,” she said. “For colleges and universities, addressing sleep problems early in a student’s academic career can have a major economic benefit through increased retention.”
For a copy of the abstract, “What Is The Cost Of Poor Sleep For College Students? Calculating The Contribution to Academic Failures Using A Large National Sample,” or to arrange an interview with Roxanne Prichard or an AASM spokesperson, please contact AASM Communications Coordinator Lynn Celmer at 630-737-9700, ext. 9364, or
Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. With about 9,000 members, the AASM is the largest professional membership society for physicians, scientists and other health care providers dedicated to sleep medicine. For more information, visit

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic.

In the article, Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Epidemic, the CDC reports:

How Much Sleep Do We Need? And How Much Sleep Are We Getting?
How much sleep we need varies between individuals but generally changes as we age. The National Institutes of Health suggests that school-age children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, teens need 9-105 hours, and adults need 7-8 hours. According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, nearly 30% of adults reported an average of ≤6 hours of sleep per day in 2005-2007.3 In 2009, only 31% of high school students reported getting at least 8 hours of sleep on an average school night.4
Sleep Hygiene Tips
The promotion of good sleep habits and regular sleep is known as sleep hygiene. The following sleep hygiene tips can be used to improve sleep.
• Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
• Avoid large meals before bedtime.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
• Avoid nicotine.
(Sleep Hygiene Tips adapted from the National Sleep Foundation )

More Americans of all ages need to begin getting a good night’s sleep.


National Sleep Foundation’s Teens and Sleep

Teen Health’s Common Sleep Problems

CBS Morning News’ Sleep Deprived Kids and Their Disturbing Thoughts

Psychology Today’s Sleepless in America

National Association of State Board’s of Education Fit, Healthy and Ready to Learn

U.S. Department of Education’s Tools for Success


Another study: Sleep problems can lead to behavior problems in children

Stony Brook Medicine study: Teens need sleep to function properly and make healthy food choices

University of Massachusetts Amherst study: Preschoolers need naps Does school start too early?

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Massachusetts study: School nurses provide economic benefit

2 Jun

The National Association of School Nurses provides the following information about school nurses:

How many school nurses are there in the United States?
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), there are 73,697 registered nurses working as school nurses (HRSA, 2010).

Click to access rnsurveyinitial2008.pdf

How are school nurses funded?
Local school district budget, state budget, EPSDT, Title I, Medicaid (accessed by only 42% of schools), and community sponsors.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported in School Nurse Shortage May Imperil Some Children, RWJF Scholars Warn:

Demand for school nurses is growing.
Medical advances are allowing more premature babies and others with severe health conditions to survive into adulthood, but these children often require complex, continuous care at home and at school. There is a rising incidence of diseases with life-threatening implications such as diabetes, seizures, asthma, bleeding disorders, and severe allergies, according to a 2010 report on the future of nursing by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). And there is an increase in mental health disorders, such as substance abuse problems, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and aggression. “What we saw 20 years ago in acute care hospitals is what we’re seeing now in the schools,” Newell said.
Growing poverty rates are also taking a toll, Newell added. She sees students with rotting teeth who can’t afford dental care; students who share asthma inhalers and insulin strips with relatives because their families cannot afford enough supplies for each individual member; and students who go to school sick because their parents can’t afford to take unpaid time away from work to care for them.
Under these circumstances, an inadequate supply of school nurses can be deadly. In September, Laporshia Massey, 12, died after suffering a severe asthma attack at a Philadelphia school on a day when no nurse was present. Massey’s father has said that an on-site school nurse could have saved his daughter’s life. “We’re worried that more tragedies like this will occur” if students don’t have access to a school nurse, Maughan said.
A Vital Role
School nurses serve nearly 50 million students nationwide in nearly 100,000 public schools, according to the IOM report. They are a subset of the nation’s public health nursing workforce; learn more about this workforce in a 2013 RWJF report….

See, Are school nurses disappearing?

Denisa Superville and Evie Blad reported in the Education Week article, Philadelphia Tragedy Highlights Role of School Nurses:

The value of full-time, registered school nurses is not limited to the medical assistance they provide; there is also an economic benefit to society, according to a study published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers studied 78 Massachusetts districts that participated in the state’s Essential School Health Services Program during the 2009-10 school year to demonstrate the benefits of having a full-time registered nurse on staff. The program cost $79 million, but researchers estimated that it saved $20 million in medical-care costs; $28.1 million in parents’ productivity loss; and $129.1 million in teachers’ productivity loss, generating a net benefit of $98 million.
Despite their medical and economic value, nurses are often among the first to go when districts face budget constraints because not every state requires a nurse to be in every school building, according to experts in the field. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a ratio of one full-time, registered school nurse to every 750 students. The National Association of School Nurses suggests a lower ratio for schools with high numbers of students with special health needs, chronic illnesses, or developmental disabilities.
But in a 2013 survey of nearly 7,000 school nurses by the National Association of School Nurses, only 48 percent of respondents said they worked in environments that met or exceeded the federal recommendation—an improvement over 2011, when 43 percent met or exceeded that standard.
In the 2013 survey, 21.7 percent of the responding nurses reported that they covered several buildings and thus trained unlicensed co-workers to perform daily routines. And 16.2 percent of respondents said school nurse jobs in their areas had been threatened by cuts. Nearly 6 percent of nurses surveyed said other nurses in their district had been cut…


Cost-Benefit Study of School Nursing Services
Li Yan Wang, MBA, MA1; Mary Vernon-Smiley, MD, MPH1; Mary Ann Gapinski, MSN, RN, NCSN2; Marie Desisto, RN, MSN3; Erin Maughan, PhD, MS, RN, APHN-BC4; Anne Sheetz, MPH, RN, NEA-BC2
[+] Author Affiliations
JAMA Pediatr. Published online May 19, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.5441
Importance In recent years, across the United States, many school districts have cut on-site delivery of health services by eliminating or reducing services provided by qualified school nurses. Providing cost-benefit information will help policy makers and decision makers better understand the value of school nursing services.
Objective To conduct a case study of the Massachusetts Essential School Health Services (ESHS) program to demonstrate the cost-benefit of school health services delivered by full-time registered nurses.
Design, Setting, and Participants Standard cost-benefit analysis methods were used to estimate the costs and benefits of the ESHS program compared with a scenario involving no school nursing service. Data from the ESHS program report and other published studies were used. A total of 477 163 students in 933 Massachusetts ESHS schools in 78 school districts received school health services during the 2009-2010 school year.
Interventions School health services provided by full-time registered nurses.
Main Outcomes and Measures Costs of nurse staffing and medical supplies incurred by 78 ESHS districts during the 2009-2010 school year were measured as program costs. Program benefits were measured as savings in medical procedure costs, teachers’ productivity loss costs associated with addressing student health issues, and parents’ productivity loss costs associated with student early dismissal and medication administration. Net benefits and benefit-cost ratio were calculated. All costs and benefits were in 2009 US dollars.
Results During the 2009-2010 school year, at a cost of $79.0 million, the ESHS program prevented an estimated $20.0 million in medical care costs, $28.1 million in parents’ productivity loss, and $129.1 million in teachers’ productivity loss. As a result, the program generated a net benefit of $98.2 million to society. For every dollar invested in the program, society would gain $2.20. Eighty-nine percent of simulation trials resulted in a net benefit.
Conclusions and Relevance The results of this study demonstrated that school nursing services provided in the Massachusetts ESHS schools were a cost-beneficial investment of public money, warranting careful consideration by policy makers and decision makers when resource allocation decisions are made about school nursing positions.

According to Truth About school nurses are a first defense against disease and injury. See, Why School Nurses Are Good for Children and Schools

In Why do we need school nurses? Truth About Nursing summarizes the importance of school nurses:

School nurses save lives, increase student attendance and decrease early dismissals. Here’s what school nurses do. They:
• are the first line of defense against epidemics and disease outbreaks, monitoring the health of the overall population and connecting with public health officials;

• are the first responders to critical incidents on school property;

• provide direct health services for students;

• identify threats to health in the school community (peanut butter, dogs, traffic, broken equipment and facilities, bullies, lack of clean water or hand soap) and work to elimate those problems as a cause of ill health;

• provide leadership for the provision of health services, health policies and programs;

• provide a critical safety net for the most fragile students;

• provide screening and referral for health conditions such as vision, hearing;

• promote a healthy school environment;

• enable children with chronic health conditions to attend school;

• promote student health and learning;

• serve as a liaison between school personnel, family, community, and health care providers.
Important information from the National Association of School Nurses:
“The Role of the School Nurse”
Student-to-School Nurse Ratio Improvement Bills

Also see:
“Unlocking the Potential of School Nursing: Keeping Children Healthy, In School, and Ready to Learn,” by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The study indicates that in the long run school nurses save money and increase the quality of life for children, their parents, and their communities. There is a nursing shortage and financially challenged school districts are in no position to compete for the scarce supply of nurses.

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