Monday, April 24, 2017

Student loan repayment status and debt burden and of bachelor’s degree recipients 4 years after graduation.

=Approximately 72 percent of 2007-08 bachelor's degree recipients had borrowed to pay for their postsecondary education (either undergraduate or graduate), and 63 percent of bachelor's degree recipients still had student loan debt 4 years after completing their degree.

The National Center for Education Statistics released a new Statistics in Brief report entitled The Debt Burden of Bachelor's Degree Recipients. The report explores student loan repayment and outstanding debt for 2007-08 bachelor's degree recipients 4 years after graduation, as well as how these loan repayment outcomes varied by employment and further degree enrollment. The study found that:

Among borrowers with no additional postsecondary enrollment, 69 percent were repaying their loans 4 years after graduation, while 17 percent had paid off their loans, 9 percent were not paying but still owed, and 5 percent had defaulted;

Borrowers who had no postsecondary enrollment after completing their bachelor's degree owed an average of $24,200, and those who had borrowed for further postsecondary education owed an average of $61,300; and

Among borrowers who were in repayment, employed, and had no further enrollment, their average debt burden (monthly loan payment as a percent of monthly salary) was 10 percent. About 22 percent of this group carried a debt burden over 12 percent.

The data used in this study are drawn from the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative, longitudinal survey of students who completed the requirements for a bachelor's degree during the 2007–08 academic year.


Research Supporting Reading Interventions for Students in Grades 1–3


This review by Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast provides updated information on the evidence supporting the use of reading interventions for students who are at risk of reading difficulty in grades 1–3.

The review team identified 27 studies of 20 different interventions that they determined met What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards. All but one of the reading interventions had positive or potentially positive effects in at least one area of reading performance. Outcomes were strongest in decoding of words and pseudowords and were strong in passage reading fluency and reading comprehension. There were no effects found in vocabulary.

However, the conditions in most of the studies do not reflect common response to intervention (RTI) practice in schools. Most of the interventions included high levels of ongoing support and monitoring for the interventionists, much more than schools typically provide. Additionally, a slight majority involved one-on-one interventions, as opposed to small group interventions, which are used more often in schools.

In young bilingual children 2 languages develop simultaneously but independently


A new study of Spanish-English bilingual children by researchers at Florida Atlantic University published in the journal Developmental Science finds that when children learn two languages from birth each language proceeds on its own independent course, at a rate that reflects the quality of the children's exposure to each language.

In addition, the study finds that Spanish skills become vulnerable as children's English skills develop, but English is not vulnerable to being taken over by Spanish. In their longitudinal data, the researchers found evidence that as the children developed stronger skills in English, their rates of Spanish growth declined. Spanish skills did not cause English growth to slow, so it's not a matter of necessary trade-offs between two languages.

"One well established fact about monolingual development is that the size of children's vocabularies and the grammatical complexity of their speech are strongly related. It turns out that this is true for each language in bilingual children," said Erika Hoff, Ph.D., lead author of the study, a psychology professor in FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, and director of the Language Development Lab. "But vocabulary and grammar in one language are not related to vocabulary or grammar in the other language."

For the study, Hoff and her collaborators David Giguere, a graduate research assistant at FAU and Jamie M. Quinn, a graduate research assistant at Florida State University, used longitudinal data on children who spoke English and Spanish as first languages and who were exposed to both languages from birth. They wanted to know if the relationship between grammar and vocabulary were specific to a language or more language general. They measured the vocabulary and level of grammatical development in these children in six-month intervals between the ages of 2 and a half to 4 years.

The researchers explored a number of possibilities during the study. They thought it might be something internal to the child that causes vocabulary and grammar to develop on the same timetable or that there might be dependencies in the process of language development itself. They also considered that children might need certain vocabulary to start learning grammar and that vocabulary provides the foundation for grammar or that grammar helps children learn vocabulary. One final possibility they explored is that it may be an external factor that drives both vocabulary development and grammatical development.

"If it's something internal that paces language development then it shouldn't matter if it's English or Spanish, everything should be related to everything," said Hoff. "On the other hand, if it's dependencies within a language of vocabulary and grammar or vice versa then the relations should be language specific and one should predict the other. That is a child's level of grammar should predict his or her future growth in vocabulary or vice versa."

Turns out, the data were consistent only with the final possibility -- that the rate of vocabulary and grammar development are a function of something external to the child and that exerts separate influences on growth in English and Spanish. Hoff and her collaborators suggest that the most cogent explanation would be in the properties of children's input or their language exposure.

"Children may hear very rich language use in Spanish and less rich use in English, for example, if their parents are more proficient in Spanish than in English," said Hoff. "If language growth were just a matter of some children being better at language learning than others, then growth in English and growth in Spanish would be more related than they are."

Detailed results of the study are described in the article, "What Explains the Correlation between Growth in Vocabulary and Grammar? New Evidence from Latent Change Score Analyses of Simultaneous Bilingual Development."

"There is something about differences among the children and the quality of English they hear that make some children acquire vocabulary and grammar more rapidly in English and other children develop more slowly," said Hoff. "I think the key takeaway from our study is that it's not the quantity of what the children are hearing; it's the quality of their language exposure that matters. They need to experience a rich environment."


The relationship between what students eat at lunch and physical activity during recess


A new study finds that the duration and timing of lunch and recess is related to food choices and physical activity of school children. These findings could help schools make policies that promote healthier school lunches and increased physical activity during recess.

Gabriella McLoughlin, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, will present the new research at the American Society for Nutrition Scientific Sessions and annual meeting during the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting, to be held April 22-26 in Chicago.

"Most research has focused solely on nutritional intake or physical activity during recess," said Naiman Khan, PhD, assistant professor and leader of the research team. "This is the first study to objectively measure food intake at lunch in conjunction with physical activity and consider the influence of duration and timing."

For the study, the researchers assessed the lunch intake and physical activity of 151 fourth and fifth grade students from two low-income schools. Each school scheduled lunch either just before or immediately after recess.




The researchers found that:

  • Although less food was wasted when recess was held before lunch, children consumed a greater proportion of vegetables when lunch was offered before recess.
  • When children had a longer time for a combined lunch and recess period, children were proportionally more physically active when lunch was offered before recess.
  • When the lunch-recess period was shorter, children were more active when recess was offered before lunch.
"Overall, our findings suggest that recess and lunch behaviors are interrelated," said McLoughlin. "However, the specific food choices and activity levels children engage in may be subject to the timing and duration of lunch and recess." The relationships between food intake at lunch and physical activity were independent of factors previously shown to contribute to recess activity such as a child's weight status and gender.

The current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend scheduling recess before lunch to reduce overall food waste. Although the new study also showed reduced food waste when recess is before lunch, the findings suggest that current recommendations may have unintended consequences for the types of foods consumed and could affect physical activity during recess, depending on the duration of the recess-lunch period.

"We plan to communicate our findings to school teachers, administrators and policymakers to facilitate the implementation of evidence-based policies that support children's ability to meet their daily physical activity and nutritional recommendations," said Khan.

Now that the researchers have extensive data on children's physical activity patterns and lunch choices, the investigators are seeking federal funding to create feasible and sustainable school interventions based on their findings. They would also like to study whether policies regarding lunch and recess affect risk for obesity, success in academics and other markers of cognitive development in children.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How playing on the swings helps kids learn to cooperate


University of Washington
IMAGE
IMAGE: Two girls maneuver an object through a puzzle. view more
Credit: I-LABS
A favorite childhood pastime -- swinging on the playground swing set -- also may be teaching kids how to get along.

The measured, synchronous movement of children on the swings can encourage preschoolers to cooperate on subsequent activities, University of Washington researchers have found.
A study by the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) shows the potential of synchronized movement in helping young children develop collaborative skills. The study is published online in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

"Synchrony enhances cooperation, because your attention is directed at engaging with another person, at the same time," explained Tal-Chen Rabinowitch, a postdoctoral researcher at I-LABS. "We think that being 'in time' together enhances social interaction in positive ways."

Previous studies, including others by Rabinowitch, have linked music and being in sync with other pro-social behaviors, such as helping, sharing and empathizing, among young children: Marching together to a song, for example, might prompt one child to share with another.

In this study, Rabinowitch, along with I-LABS co-director and psychology professor Andrew Meltzoff, sought to focus on movement alone, without music, and examined how children cooperated with one another afterward. Cooperation -- adapting to a situation, compromising with someone else, working toward a common goal -- is considered a life skill, one that parents and teachers try to develop in a child's early years.

For the I-LABS study, researchers built a swing set that enabled two children to swing in unison, in controlled cycles of time. Pairs of 4-year-olds -- who were unfamiliar to one another -- were randomly assigned to groups that either swung together in precise time, swung out of sync with each other, or didn't swing at all. The pairs in all three groups then participated in a series of tasks designed to evaluate their cooperation. In one activity, the children played a computer game that required them to push buttons at the same time in order to see a cartoon figure appear. Another, called the "give and take" activity, involved passing objects back and forth through a puzzle-like device.

Researchers found that the children who swung in unison completed the tasks faster, indicating better cooperation than those who swung out of sync, or not at all. On the button-push task, for instance, the pairs who had been swinging together showed a greater tendency to strategically raise their hands before they pushed the button so as to signal their intent to the other child, which proved to be a successful tactic for the task.

For 4-year-olds, moving in sync can create a feeling of "being like" another child that, consequently, may encourage them to communicate more and try to work together, Rabinowitch said.

"Cooperation has both a social and cognitive side, because people can solve problems they couldn't solve alone," Meltzoff said. "We didn't know before we started the study that cooperation between 4-year-olds could be enhanced through the simple experience of moving together. It's provocative that kids' cooperation can be profoundly changed by their experiences."

Rabinowitch believes the results of this study can have implications outside the lab. Teachers and parents can provide "in sync" opportunities for groups of children, whether through music, dance or play.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Delaying middle school, high school start times is beneficial to students


A new position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) asserts that the school day should begin at 8:30 a.m. or later for middle school and high school students.

Data show that later start times provide adolescents the opportunity to get sufficient sleep on school nights, which optimizes daytime alertness, reduces tardiness and improves school attendance. A later school start time supports peak academic performance, more opportunities for learning, better mental health, and enhanced driving safety.

"Early school start times make it difficult for adolescents to get sufficient sleep on school nights, and chronic sleep loss among teens is associated with a host of problems, including poor school performance, increased depressive symptoms, and motor vehicle accidents," said lead author and AASM Past President Dr. Nathaniel Watson. "Starting school at 8:30 a.m. or later gives teens a better opportunity to get the sufficient sleep they need to learn and function at their highest level."

The position statement is published in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The AASM recommends that teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health. However, CDC data show that 68.4 percent of high school students report sleeping 7 hours or less on school nights. Early middle school and high school start times work contrary to adolescent circadian physiology and truncate students' sleep opportunity, resulting in chronic sleep loss.

Studies show that short sleep in adolescents is associated with the following:

  • Poor school performance
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic dysfunction and cardiovascular morbidity
  • Increased depressive symptoms
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Athletic injuries
Insufficient sleep also is associated with an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, which account for 35 percent of all deaths and 73 percent of deaths from unintentional injury in teenagers. Research suggests that crash rates decline by 16.5 percent following a school start time delay of 60 minutes.

Delaying middle school and high school start times is associated with a variety of benefits for teen students:

  • Longer total sleep time
  • Reduced daytime sleepiness
  • Increased engagement in class activities
  • Reduced first-hour tardiness and absences
  • Reduced depressive symptoms and irritability
  • Improved reaction time
The authors noted that while adequate sleep duration is vital, other sleep-related factors are involved in ensuring optimal student performance. Maintenance of good sleep quality, appropriate timing and regularity of sleep, and effective treatment of sleep disorders are essential. Teens also should avoid using sleep-disrupting electronic devices near bedtime or during the night.

The AASM encourages primary academic institutions, school boards, parents, and policy makers to raise public awareness to promote a national standard of middle school and high school start times of 8:30 a.m. or later. Starting school at 8:30 a.m. or later will help ensure that middle school and high school students begin the day awake, alert, and ready to learn.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Principal Licensure Exams Discriminate and Don't Measure Future Job Performance


Many states require prospective principals to pass a licensure exam as a condition of obtaining an administrative license. Little is known, however, about the potential effects of principal licensure exams on the pool of available principals or whether exams are predictive of later job performance. 
 
This study investigates the most commonly used exam, the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA), using ten years of data on test-takers in Tennessee. 
 
The analysis uncovers two main results. First, there are substantial differences in passage rates by test-taker race and gender. In particular, nonwhites with otherwise similar characteristics are 17-18% less likely than whites to obtain the required cut score. Second, although applicants with higher scores are more likely to be hired as principals, we find no evidence that SLLA score predicts potential measures of principal job performance, including supervisor ratings from the statewide evaluation system or leadership ratings from a statewide teacher survey. 
 
The results raise questions about whether conditioning administrative licensure on SLLA passage is consistent with the goal of a diverse principal workforce.