Tag Archives: Study Shows

University of Texas Center for Brain Health study: Cognitive training can improve poor students performance

30 Dec

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/early-learning-standards-and-the-k-12-contiuum/
Rebecca Klein of Huffington posted in the article, This Is What Could Close The Achievement Gap Among Young Kids, Study Says:

Just a few years of high-quality early childhood education could close the academic achievement gap between low-income and affluent students, a new study suggests.
The study, conducted by two university professors, analyzed previous data from a now-defunct program that offered free preschool to students from different social backgrounds.
Using this data, the researchers found that after providing low-income children with quality preschool early in life, the kids had the same IQs as their wealthier peers by age… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/07/preschool-achievement-gap_n_4556916.html

A King’s College study is intriguing because it points to the value of early cognitive stimulation. See, Children’s drawings indicate later intelligence, study shows   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140818204114.htm

Science Daily reported in the article, Cognitive training can improve brain performance of students in poverty:

The cognitive effects of poverty can be mitigated during middle school with a targeted intervention, according to researchers at the Center for Brain Health at The University of Texas at Dallas.

In a paper published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers for the first time examine the efficacy of cognitive training in a large and diverse group of 7th and 8th grade public middle school students as compared to typically developing students who received no specific training.

“Previous research has shown that growing up in poverty can shape the wiring and even physical dimensions of a young child’s brain, with negative effects on language, learning and attention,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino, director of the Center for Brain Health’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative and assistant research professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas. “What this work shows is that there is hope for students in poverty to catch up with their peers not living in poverty.”

The research team studied 913 middle school students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, accounting for any diagnosed medical or learning differences. Five hundred and fifty six students received the cognitive intervention and 357 served as a comparison group. The protocol included pre- and post-training assessments, in which all adolescents were asked to read several texts and then craft a high-level summary, drawing upon inferences to transform ideas into novel, generalized statements, and recall important facts. For the 556 students who received the Center for BrainHealth-developed cognitive training called SMART (Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training), they completed 10 45-minute sessions over a one-month period. The SMART program was provided by research clinicians and consists of hierarchical cognitive processes that are explained and practiced through group interactive exercises and pen and paper activities using student instructional manuals.

“Much focus has been put on early childhood learning and brain development — and for good reason,” said Dr. Gamino. “However, extensive frontal lobe development and pruning occurs during adolescence making middle school a prime opportunity to impact cognitive brain health.”

“Existing studies show that a large percentage of students in middle school are not developing inferential thinking entering high school,” explained Dr. Gamino. “The cognitive gains demonstrated after short-term, intensive training in this research suggest that middle school is an appropriate and beneficial time to teach students strategies to enhance understanding and the ability to infer global meanings from information beyond the explicit facts.”

Cognitive tests indicate that students living in poverty showed as much as a 25% increase in gist reasoning, or the ability to derive abstracted meaning from information presented, after training, comparable to the gains made by their peers living above the poverty line. Additionally, the SMART-trained group, regardless of socioeconomic status, showed significant generalized gains and as much as an 18% improvement in increased memory for facts, even though this skill was not specifically targeted in training….

Findings revealed gender differences among the students studied as well. Seventh and eighth grade girls showed significant improvement after receiving the SMART program, as did 8th grade boys, regardless of socioeconomic level. After training, 7th grade boys showed improvement in fact retention but not gist reasoning.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141210080748.htm

Citation:

Cognitive training can improve brain performance of students in poverty

Date:         December 10, 2014

 Source:     Center for Brain Health

Summary:

The cognitive effects of poverty can be mitigated during middle school with a targeted intervention, according to researchers who, for the first time, examined the efficacy of cognitive training in a large and diverse group of 7th and 8th grade public middle school students as compared to typically developing students who received no specific training.

Here is the press release from the University Texas Center for Brain Health:

Study shows cognitive training can improve brain performance of students in poverty

By: The Center for Brain Health

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The cognitive effects of poverty can be mitigated during middle school with a targeted intervention, according to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.

In a paper published today in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers for the first time examine the efficacy of cognitive training in a large and diverse group of 7th and 8th grade public middle school students as compared to typically developing students who received no specific training.

“Previous research has shown that growing up in poverty can shape the wiring and even physical dimensions of a young child’s brain, with negative effects on language, learning and attention,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino, director of the Center for BrainHealth’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative and assistant research professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas. “What this work shows is that there is hope for students in poverty to catch up with their peers not living in poverty.”

The research team studied 913 middle school students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, accounting for any diagnosed medical or learning differences. Five hundred and fifty six students received the cognitive intervention and 357 served as a comparison group. The protocol included pre- and post-training assessments, in which all adolescents were asked to read several texts and then craft a high-level summary, drawing upon inferences to transform ideas into novel, generalized statements, and recall important facts. For the 556 students who received the Center for BrainHealth-developed cognitive training called SMART (Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training), they completed 10 45-minute sessions over a one-month period. The SMART program was provided by research clinicians and consists of hierarchical cognitive processes that are explained and practiced through group interactive exercises and pen and paper activities using student instructional manuals.

“Much focus has been put on early childhood learning and brain development – and for good reason,” said Dr. Gamino. “However, extensive frontal lobe development and pruning occurs during adolescence making middle school a prime opportunity to impact cognitive brain health.”

“Existing studies show that a large percentage of students in middle school are not developing inferential thinking entering high school,” explained Dr. Gamino. “The cognitive gains demonstrated after short-term, intensive training in this research suggest that middle school is an appropriate and beneficial time to teach students strategies to enhance understanding and the ability to infer global meanings from information beyond the explicit facts.”

Cognitive tests indicate that students living in poverty showed as much as a 25% increase in gist reasoning, or the ability to derive abstracted meaning from information presented, after training, comparable to the gains made by their peers living above the poverty line. Additionally, the SMART-trained group, regardless of socioeconomic status, showed significant generalized gains and as much as an 18% improvement in increased memory for facts, even though this skill was not specifically targeted in training.

“The ability to use inference to abstract meaning from incoming information as trained in the SMART program is a skill crucial to future life success and applies to both academic and informal learning activities such as reading a school assignment, listening and taking notes from a lecture, watching a movie or television program, or having a conversation with a friend,” Dr. Gamino continued.

Findings revealed gender differences among the students studied as well. Seventh and eighth grade girls showed significant improvement after receiving the SMART program, as did 8th grade boys, regardless of socioeconomic level. After training, 7th grade boys showed improvement in fact retention but not gist reasoning.

The Center for Brain Health’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative has provided training to more than 300 teachers and 30,000 teens across the country. The research team is planning to expand their study to determine if cognitive training closes the academic achievement gap by conducting longitudinal research and comparing standardized test scores.

The research was funded by the State of Texas, The AT&T Foundation, The Meadows Foundation and The Pickens Foundation.

http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/blog_page/study-shows-cognitive-training-can-improve-brain-performance-of-students-in?utm_source=BrainHealth+Breakthrough+12.09.2014+Brain+Training+and+Socioeconomic+Status&utm_campaign=BHBT+12.09.14&utm_medium=email

Money spent on early childhood programs is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.

Related:

What is the Educare preschool model?                                                                                          https://drwilda.com/2012/11/09/what-is-the-educare-preschool-model/

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Foundation for Child Development study: Immigrant children lose gains over time

24 Jul

Moi wrote in What is the DREAM Act?
University of Washington Daily has published two excellent articles by Lauren Kronebusch of the Daily staff. In Making The Dream A Reality, Kronebusch reports:

#“They grow up American in many ways,” Gonzales said. “They have American-born peers and friends, they’re moving together with a group of American born peers and friends, they do all of the things other kids do. … But at around 16, 17, 18 years old, they start to realize that as their friends are moving forward, … they find themselves stuck.”  http://dailyuw.com/news/2012/may/31/making-dream-reality/

See, ‘Nobody Can Take Education Away From You’ http://dailyuw.com/news/2012/may/31/nobody-can-take-education-away-you/
Nina Terrero reports in the NBC Latino post, Children of immigrants start life better off than U.S.-born children-but advantages erased over time:

Children of Latino immigrants begin life with a substantial advantage over the children of U.S.-born Hispanics, faring better across areas such as education, health and economics, says a new study released today by the Foundation for Child Development.   Yet over time, the study finds persistent disparities in income, health insurance coverage and education disproportionately affect the children of Latino immigrants.
According to “Diverse Children: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in America’s New Non-Majority Generation,” the children of Latino immigrants are more likely than the children of Latino U.S.-born parents to live in a family with at least one securely employed parent and are less likely to live in a one-parent family. These children were also less likely to be born at a low birth rate and also had lower rates of infant mortality. They were also healthier than the children of Latino U.S.-born parents and less likely to have a physical disability. The children of Hispanic immigrant parents were also more likely to be in school or working in their teen years.
“This study shows that contrary to what many people think of immigrants, their children do begin life well in the United States,” says Dr. Donald J. Hernandez, a professor of Sociology at Hunter College in New York City and the study’s lead author. “Hispanics come here with strong family structures, traditional cultural diets and a work ethic which motivates them to find and maintain employment.”
The study is the first of its kind to compare the well-being of children born to both immigrant and U.S.-born parents across black, Asian, Hispanic and white groups. It examined how children fare across 19 different indicators including family economic resources, parental employment status, reading and math proficiency, as well as health care insurance enrollment rates. Using national 2010 statistics compiled by federal databases including the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), researchers found the children of Hispanic immigrants begin life with an advantage over the children of U.S. born-Hispanics.
Over time, the advantages of immigrant children are erased, explains Hernandez.
The overall well-being of Hispanic children with immigrant parents ranked just behind that of black children with U.S. parents – ranked the most disadvantaged group – across of all 19 indicators. Seventy-one percent of Hispanic children fell twice below the federal poverty threshold (compared to 65 percent of all black children with U.S.-born parents). The median family income for Hispanic children with immigrant parents was also ranked lower than other groups at ($29,977) but just ahead of black children with U.S.-born parents ($33,396). Researchers found that Hispanic children of immigrant parents also had a lower rates of health insurance coverage than other groups, but were still ahead of black children with U.S.-born parents (19 percent compared to 15 percent).
Pre-kindergarten enrollment among Latino immigrant children in 2010 was lower than any other group at just 37 percent. Among Hispanic children of U.S.-born parents, only 42 percent were enrolled in pre-k, compared to other race-ethnic groups with enrollment rates of 50 and 55 percent.
http://nbclatino.com/2013/07/24/children-of-immigrants-start-life-better-off-than-u-s-born-children-but-advantages-erased-over-time/#.UfBSoE1uLX8.email

Here is the summary from Foundation for Child Development:

Race Ethnicity and Immigration Report
Author: Donald J. Hernandez, Hunter College & The Graduate Center, CUNY, & Jeffrey S. Napierala, University at Albany / July 24, 2013
Diverse Children: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in America’s  New Non-Majority Generation
There are significant disparities in the education, economic well-being, and health of children in the U.S. based on their race-ethnicity and whether or not their parents are immigrants, according to Diverse Children: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in America’s New Non-Majority Generation, the first report ever to draw these comparisons.
The report details the wellbeing of children in eight groups, distinguished by their race-ethnicity and whether they are children of immigrants or children of U.S.-born parents. It examines well-being across 19 key indicators that address family economic resources, health, educational attainments, and demographic circumstances.
“The data show the important advantages that immigrant families bring to this country and the strong foundation they give to their children,” says Donald J. Hernandez, author of the report. “But we also found evidence of enormous disparities in child well-being, along not only immigration lines, but also along race-ethnicity lines.”
Among the many findings, the report reveals that:
Hispanic children with immigrant parents were found to be just as likely to live with a securely employed parent as Hispanic children with U.S.-born parents, and substantially more likely to live with two parents and to be born healthy. They are, nevertheless more likely to live in poverty, to lack PreKindergarten education and health insurance, and to die between the ages of 1 and 19.
Children of immigrants (as compared to those with U.S.-born parents) in each of the race-ethnic groups, in fact, were found to be at least as likely to have a securely employed parent, more likely to be born at a healthy birth weight and to survive the first year of life, and more likely to live in a two-parent family. It is also true of each race-ethnic group that children of immigrants were found less likely to be covered by health insurance or to be enrolled in PreKindergarten.
Hispanic children of immigrant parents and Black children of U.S.-born parents fell behind all other groups for nearly half of all indicators studied. They were most at risk of growing up in poverty or near-poverty, of living in a family with low median income, at highest risk for child mortality (ages 1-19), and least likely to have very good or excellent health.
When it comes to education, all groups of U.S. children were found to be at risk, regardless of their race-ethnicity and whether their parents were born in the U.S. There were critically low rates of reading and math proficiency across the board; the lowest rates were for Hispanic and Black children. PreKindergarten enrollment was also low for all groups, and extremely low for Hispanic children — especially those with immigrant parents. 
The report puts these findings in the context of a new milestone in U.S. history: Today’s population of American children is more diverse than ever, and children of immigrants account for one out of every four children in the United States; most children of immigrants (89 percent) are American citizens.
The report includes detailed policy recommendations for improving the lives and wellbeing of children, especially those most at risk. Recommendations include expanding access to and enhancing early education, removing barriers to health insurance so that all children are covered, and providing families with ways to improve their economic security and future prospects.

Citation:

Download

DiverseChildren – Full Report.pdf (2276K)
http://fcd-us.org/sites/default/files/DiverseChildren%20-%20Full%20Report.pdf 

Sarah D. Sparks reports of the difficulties native-born Black children face in the Education Week analysis of the study, Child Well-Being in Immigrant Families Differs by Race, Study Shows:

Immigrants overwhelmingly come to America seeking a better life for themselves and particularly their children, but the well-being of immigrant students varies far more based on their race and economic position than their immigration status, according to a new study by the Foundation for Child Development. In fact, for some racial and ethnic groups, children of immigrants are doing better than the children of their U.S.-born counterparts.
For example, overall, black children of U.S.-born parents fared worse than all or nearly all other groups, both immigrant and U.S.-born, on 15 out of 19 indicators. By contrast, black children of immigrant parents fared better then their native counterparts in income level, parent education and employment, and high school graduation.
“The groups that are worse off are Hispanic children of immigrant parents and black children of U.S. parents,” said Donald J. Hernandez, the study’s author and a sociology professor at Hunter College, at the City University of New York. “It is kind of surprising because we typically think of children of immigrants as not doing as well, and it’s really a more nuanced picture that cuts over multiple indicators.”
“People often just look at the immigrant group and compare it to nonimmigrant groups,” Hernandez said. “By distinguishing the race and ethnic groups, we are focusing on children who have similar types of exposure to poverty and schools. The results really help to break through the stereotypes we have about these children by comparing them to children who had similar experiences.”
Taken as a whole, children of immigrant families are more likely to be poor and to struggle academically than are children of native families, but “Diverse Children: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in America’s New Non-Majority Generation,” which the New York City-based foundation released this morning, paints a more complex picture of the immigrant child experience by breaking out national child well-being indicators by Hispanic, black, white, and Asian background.
DREAM Act kids notwithstanding, nearly nine out of 10 children of immigrants, regardless of their parents’ nationality, were born in the United States and have grown up in American schools. Regardless of ethnicity, children of immigrant parents were as or more likely than children of native families to have parents with secure jobs, and less likely to live in one-parent families. Moreover, for all groups except Asians, immigrant families tend to move less frequently than U.S.-born families; that could be a benefit, in terms of stability and school continuity, but less helpful if it signals families trapped in segregated low-income neighborhoods.http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2013/07/child_well-being_in_immigrant_.html?intc=es

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

Yes

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

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

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

Of all the threats to human society, including war, disease and natural disaster, one outranks all others. It is the ageing of the human population.
No invading army, volcanic eruption or yet undreamt of plague can rival ageing in the breadth or depth of its impact on society. Over the next half century the proportion of people aged 60-plus around the world is expected to more than double. By 2050, for the first time in human history, old people will outnumber child-ren on the planet.
In some developed counties the number of older people will be twice the number of children. The impact of this transformation will be felt in every area of life, including economic growth, labour markets, taxation, the transfer of property, health, family composition, housing and migration. And the “demographic agequake” is already under way. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/why-an-ageing-population-is-the-greatest-threat-to-society-656997.html

A argument for immigration is that younger people are added to the population base and helps the aging problem. Bottom line is that ALL children in this society must have a good basic education.

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