Education Week - October 23, 2013 - (Page 5)

REPORT ROUNDUP Test-Makers Forge Pact For Concussion Management Two major developers of concussion-management tools have announced a partnership that could expand the way youth-athletes are evaluated for head injuries. ImPACT Applications Inc., the developer of the ImPACT neurocognitive test, and the maker of the King-Devick Test have partnered to "promote a multidimensional approach to assessing concussions in athletes," according to the announcement this month. The ImPACT test aims to guide return-to-play decisions by measuring a student-athlete's "baseline" during the preseason of his or her sport. The King-Devick Test helps guide remove-from- or return-to-play decisions right on the sideline. Neither is necessarily 100 percent accurate. The hope is that the combination of tests will improve reliability. -BRYAN TOPOREK More Students Expected To Take PSAT An estimated 3.6 million high school students were expected to take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test last week, about 100,000 more than last year, according to the College Board. Generally, students pay a $14 exam fee, but a growing number of states and districts are covering the cost for all students. Fee waivers are available for low-income students, and nearly 150,000 qualified last year. On average, students who took the PSAT scored 136 points more on the SAT than those who did not, according to the most recent report from the College Board. -CARALEE ADAMS Few Disciplined in Probe Of Pa. Test Irregularities More than a year after then-state education Secretary Ron Tomalis vowed to file "well over 100" complaints against Pennsylvania educators over alleged cheating on state tests, the state has disciplined five. Action was taken against four in Philadelphia and one in Erie, ranging from a public reprimand to a surrender of some teaching certificates. State education officials say they never comment on complaints that are under review. A report analyzing irregularities arrived at the state education department in July 2009, but officials said it basically sat on a shelf. It came to light in 2011 when an online publication ran an article about it, triggering Mr. Tomalis to order an investigation. It focused on atypical erasure patterns in which unusual numbers of answers were changed from wrong to right on state tests in 2009, 2010, and 2011. -MCT Regulators Find Deficiencies At Conn. Child-Care Centers Connecticut child-care facilities had a noncompliance rate greater than 10 percent on seven of 13 state requirements, state regulators found during unannounced visits, according to an analysis published in this month's American Journal of Public Health. Playground safety posed the biggest problem, with nearly half the centers failing to meet standards, the report says. Indoor safety and health violations were also documented. For example, plastic bags, balloons, and Styrofoam were within reach of young children, and rules for diaper changing were not always followed, the study says. The visits to 676 child-care cen- ters, or 41 percent of those operating at the time, took place from 2006 to 2008. -JULIE BLAIR Ore. Elementary Charters Found Lacking in Diversity The six least-diverse Oregon elementary schools all are charter schools, according to a new state education department analysis. They have the fewest low-income students, students who speak English as a second language, and students who are black, Latino, Pacific Islander, or Native American. Four of those six schools registered top-tier performance on this year's school report cards. Rather than being assigned to a charter school based on where they live, families have to apply, be admitted by lottery if there are too many applicants, and provide their own transportation to the school. -MCT Learning-Time Initiative Proceeds in New York New York is looking for school districts to come up with promising proposals that lengthen the amount of time students spend in school. The state education department last month issued a request for proposals outlining the state's vision. The Extended Learning Time Grant Program will provide $20 million in competitive grants to districts over each of the next three years. At least 25 percent more time must be added to the academic calendar or 300 more hours per year. Applications are due this month. -LAURA HEINAUER MELLETT Hawaii Prepares for Change In Kindergarten Age Hawaii officials are emphasizing an upcoming change in the age children can enter kindergarten as an opportunity for late-born pupils to receive an extra year to prepare for school. Starting next school year, children must be at least 5 on July 31 to enter kindergarten the same year. The current cutoff is Dec. 31. The education department estimates about 5,000 children won't be entering kindergarten next school year. Many affected families are worried about how to afford another year of preschool. State officials are looking at the impact on low-income families and exploring ways to reduce the co-pay tiers for the state's preschool program. -AP FOSTER CHILDREN "The Invisible Achievement Gap" In a first-of-its-kind academic portrait of California's foster children, researchers last week unveiled a report showing that students living in foster homes are twice as likely to drop out of school as other students and significantly trail their low-income peers on other academic measures. Twenty-nine percent of students in foster care reached proficiency or higher on the California state exam in English/language arts in 2009-10, compared with 40 percent of students who are from low-income families and 53 percent of all students. In 2010, 58 percent of students in foster care graduated from high school. By comparison, 79 percent of lowincome students and 84 percent of all students in the class of 2010 earned a high school diploma. The report was published by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, in San Francisco. -LESLI A. MAXWELL COLLEGE AID "Aid Like a Paycheck: Incremental Aid to Boost Student Success" Instead of giving low-income college students their financial assistance in a lump sum, a pilot program disburses the money every two weeks, and a new paper reports that the arrangement may promote academic success and smart financial management. The study by the nonprofit re- search organization MDRC analyzes the Aid Like a Paycheck project launched by the Institute for College Access and Success in 2009 and pilot-tested at two colleges. Initial response to the program from college staff and students has been positive, with enthusiasm generally exceeding researchers' expectations, according to the report. Students said the new system helps them spend their money wisely, reduce their work hours, and put more energy into their schoolwork. -CARALEE J. ADAMS FINANCIAL COMPETITION "Charter Schools Pose Growing Risks for Urban Public Schools" A report released last week by Moody's Investors Service found that while most public school districts have weathered the rise of charter schools without a negative fiscal impact, some risk factors are making it harder for districts in economically challenged areas to remain financially viable as charters continue to grow. The report outlines four major factors that can lead to charters taking a toll on a district's finances: declining enrollment, districts' inability to adjust operations in response to charter school growth, state policies that can make it difficult for districts to operate with charter schools, and the lack of integration between districts and local government. The study looked at a variety of urban districts with high numbers of charter schools, including the beleaguered Detroit and Philadelphia systems, to examine how these issues play out. -KATIE ASH STUDENT RETENTION "Retained Students and Classmates' Absences in Urban Schools" Retaining students has implications for the attendance and academic performance of their nonretained classmates, finds a new study of California students. For the report, author Michael Gottfried, an assistant professor in urban education at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles, examined data for elementary children in an unnamed California district. He found that students in classrooms with a higher percentage of retained children also had more unexcused-but not excused- absences during the school year. Because studies have linked unexcused absences to academic disengagement, Mr. Gottfried suggests that retained students may have a negative effect on their classmates' learning. -ALYSSA MORONES ACCOUNTABILITY "Oklahoma School Grades: Hiding Poor Achievement" As few as three correct responses on Oklahoma state tests can separate those schools receiving an A grade from those receiving an F under the state's accountability system, says a paper by the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. The study, released this month, is based on raw scores on the state's reading and mathematics tests from 15,000 students in 63 urban schools and science scores for about 4,900 students. When averaging the scores across all three tests, the study found that about three to six correct responses separated the best schools from the worst, based on the A-F system. On the math tests, researchers note that some scores from D and F schools topped those from B and C schools. The study concludes that the system has many flaws, among them that it hides the poor performance of racial-minority and lowincome students. -ANDREW UJIFUSA TEACHERS AND AGING "Occupational Differences Between Alzheimer's and Aphasic Dementias: Implication for Teachers" As if there weren't already enough hazards to entering the teaching profession, a new study by the Mayo Clinic, in Scottsdale, Ariz., finds educators at greater risk of losing the ability to communicate as they age. A team led by Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. Keith Josephs found that teachers were disproportionately represented among patients with degenerative speech and language disorders-but not among patients with Alzheimer's disease. Patterns among the group of about 500 total patients were consistent with larger trends in 2008 census data. Those speech-and-language dis- orders-in which patients forget which words to use or try to speak around them-are progressive and typically lead to death eight to 10 years after diagnosis, the study found. -SARAH D. SPARKS EDUCATION WEEK | October 23, 2013 | | 5 Poverty's Effects Vary by Environment "Working Memory Differences Between Children Living In Rural and Urban Poverty" Students in poverty have been repeatedly shown to have poorer working memory than higher-income students, but students living in urban versus rural poverty show different types of working-memory problems, finds a new study in the fall issue of the Journal of Cognition and Development. Michele Tine, an assistant education professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., gave a series of tests of verbal and visual-spatial working memory to 186 6th graders in three low-income rural schools, one low-income urban school, and one high-income school each in rural and urban areas. The tests included reciting strings of remembered numbers in reverse order for verbal memory, and recalling the positions and patterns of shapes for spatial memory, among others. Higher-income rural and urban students performed about equally well in verbal and visual-spatial memory tasks, at about the 60th percentile. However, while students in urban poverty performed at just below the 40th percentile in both verbal and spatial working memory, students in rural poverty performed better in verbal-memory tasks- at the 45th percentile-and significantly worse in visual-spatial working memory, at the 29th percentile. "I was surprised to see the visualspatial weakness in the rural population," Ms. Tine said. The Dartmouth professor suggested that rural students may have to navigate less-complex spatial environments, leading to weaker spatial memory, but causes of the differences aren't clear. -SARAH D. SPARKS

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 23, 2013

Education Week - October 23, 2013
Colorado Tax Boosting K-12 Up to Voters
Paddling Persists in U.S. Schools
Health-Care Law Raises Questions For Districts
K12 Inc. Learning Difficult Lessons This School Year
News in Brief
Report Roundup
New Student Majority in South and West: Poor Children
School Poverty Said to Hurt College Access
Media Group Calls on Companies To Protect Students’ Personal Data
D.C. Teachers Improved After Overhaul Of Evaluations, Pay
Blogs of the Week
K-12 Advocates Remain Braced For Fiscal Fight
Illinois Among Outliers With No NCLB Waiver
Appeal Argued on Affirmative-Action Ban
The Public School Ownership Gap
We Need a National Monument to Teachers
Changing the World, One Student at a Time
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Common Core’s Power for Disadvantaged Students

Education Week - October 23, 2013