November 2011 Reports

ADHD cases increasing
New statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the percentage of U.S. children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has risen over the past decade, increasing from 7 percent to 9 percent nationally from 1998-2009. Rates of diagnosis vary across regions, and have reached 10 percent in the Midwest and South. Mexican children consistently showed the lowest incidence of ADHD, says the report, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Among Children Aged 5-7 Years in the United States, 1998-2009.

Civics and democracy
A report from the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools recognizes an American trend towards civic ignorance and offers common-sense solutions to parents, schools, and policymakers to help re-engage U.S. students in their own democracy. The report, Guardian of Democracy: Civic Mission of Schools, recommends that schools’ civics curriculum be integrated across subjects, focus on how citizens can participate in civic life, and continue into college. Parents are encouraged to review civic learning within their child’s school and help their children stay informed on current events.

Degree rate dropping
A study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Education at a Glance 2011, says that 26 percent of all postsecondary individuals within the G20 countries are in the U.S., followed by China (12 percent) and then Japan (11.5 percent). Forty-one percent of the U.S. adult population has a postsecondary degree. However, attainment levels among those just entering the job market (aged 25-34) are lower than those leaving the job market (aged 55-64). The rate of degree attainment in the U.S. is actually declining.

Good teaching lasts
A study confirms that good teachers do make a difference and have lasting effects on student achievement. The study by a Michigan State University researcher, Teacher Effects in Early Grades, finds that students exposed to teachers at the 85th percentile of the teacher effectiveness distribution for three consecutive grades (kindergarten through second grade) experience an increase at third grade of nearly one-third of a year’s growth in reading achievement, compared to students who were not exposed to the highly effective teachers. These results are similar to those achieved by reducing class size.

Race, poverty, and security
The authors of Reproducing Social Inequality through School Security: Effects of Race and Class on School Security Measures find only a weak association between student behavior and crime and the level and kinds of security measures in force at their schools. Results say metal detectors are much more likely to be used in schools with large minority populations. In elementary and middle schools, a high rate of poverty was the most reliable indicator that metal detectors, surveillance cameras, full-time law enforcement officers, monitored and locked gates, and drug-sniffing dogs would all be used.

Spatial ability: nurture
Data from a study comparing how quickly villagers from matrilineal or patrilineal societies solved a puzzle strongly indicate that gender gaps in spatial ability are the result of nurture, not nature. The authors of Nurture Affects Gender Differences in Spatial Abilities, published by the National Academy of Sciences, argue that because none of the tested villagers had previous experience working with puzzles, because they shared the same genetic background, and because they all had the same means of subsistence, gender differences in their spatial ability are clearly shown to be the result of nurture.

Television and the brain
Fast-paced television shows could interfere with children’s brain function. The authors of The Immediate Impact of Different Types of Television on Young Children’s Executive Function, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, say that just nine minutes of watching Nickelodeon’s fast-paced SpongeBob SquarePants significantly and negatively affected the immediate executive function of 4-year-olds participating in their study. Nickelodeon has questioned the veracity of the study’s results, citing the lack of diversity among the study’s participants and the subjective nature of a questionnaire completed by parents, which was used as part of a regression analysis when factoring test results, as well as other issues.  

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.