February 2013 Reports

Apps collecting data from kids www.ftc.gov
A report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Mobile Apps for Kids, finds that despite a warning from the FTC this past September, software developers continue to create apps for kids that collect and then report information about them to third parties. Only about 20 percent of the apps for kids studied by the FTC made any attempt to disclose the app’s privacy practices, and 60 percent were sending information back to an advertising network or the app developer. The FTC plans to conduct nonpublic investigations to determine whether these actions constitute violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and is also considering launching a consumer education campaign intended to inform parents about mobile apps.

Costs of testing www.brookings.edu
A report from the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy, Strength in Numbers, finds that the cost of standardized testing for grades three through nine in the 45 jurisdictions studied averages out to $65 per student. The District of Columbia at $114 spent the most per student, followed by Hawaii, Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, and Massachusetts. New York spent the least: $7 per student. Pearson Education received most of the $669 million spent nationally (39 percent), followed by McGraw-Hill Education (14 percent), and the Data Recognition Corporation (13 percent).

Disabled parents’ rights www.ncd.gov
A study from the National Council on Disability, Rocking the Cradle, finds that the parental rights of disabled parents are frequently and unfairly infringed upon, with two-thirds of state child welfare laws permitting courts to declare a parent unfit solely on the basis of their disability. Custody removal rates for psychiatric (70-80) and intellectual (80 percent) disabilities in particular are strikingly high. The study also found these parents lacked peer networks and that disabled parents embroiled in family law proceedings face significant barriers to obtaining good, affordable legal representation.

Obesity greater risk to kids than hunger www.thelancet.com
“The Global Burden of Disease 2010,” recently published in the Lancet, has found that except for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, obesity has grown by 82 percent globally over the past 20 years. In the Middle East, obesity has grown by 100 percent since 1990. The health issues caused by obesity now far outweigh the health issues caused by hunger. While deaths from heart disease have decreased by 70 percent worldwide, the incidence of its diagnosis has skyrocketed. While adults are living more than 10 additional years worldwide, on average, they live the last 14 years of their lives in pain, disability, and illness.

Superintendent churn http://aer.sagepub.com
“Why Superintendents Turn Over,” a study of California superintendents appearing in the American Educational Research Journal, found that 43 percent of all superintendents left their districts within three years, but 71 percent of superintendents serving in districts with 29,000 students or more did the same. The study’s authors interviewed superintendents and board members about district climate and reasons for departures and found that superintendents usually traded up to larger districts, raising their salaries on average from $109,761 to $131,110 per annum in the process.

Technology for online assessments www.smarterbalanced.org
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) has released its Smarter Balanced Technology Strategy Framework and Systems Requirements Specifications for the technology districts will need to support upcoming electronic assessments. Smarter Balanced finds that computers, Chromebooks, iPads, and Android tablets running on newer operating systems will be adequate for online testing. Any device used for online assessments must have a 10-inch screen, a keyboard, Internet access, and allow features that could lead to cheating to be disabled during the assessment. Thirty-three states already offer online assessments with varying degrees of success. Wyoming switched to online testing in 2010, resulting in chaos and a lawsuit against standardized testing giant Pearson, according to digital.hechingerreport.org.

TIMSS and PIRLS http://timssandpirls.bc.edu/
First, the good news: In 2011, Florida fourth-graders participated in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and outperformed every other country and every other jurisdiction participating with the exception of Hong Kong. Florida’s reading score was 569, 13 points higher than the U.S. average score of 556 -- up 16 points from 2006. Now for the bad news: On the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), eight countries outperformed the U.S. in fourth-grade math, and 11 in eighth-grade math. Six systems outperformed the U.S. in fourth-grade science, and 12 in eighth-grade science. Finland, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and Taipei performed strongly in all subjects.

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.