Each week, LD OnLine gathers interesting news headlines about learning disabilities and ADHD issues. Please note that LD OnLine does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.
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"Most people think raw intellectual talent is the primary marker for academic success among children. But new insights are proving that motivation is perhaps even more important to learning than innate intelligence. One widely cited study, recently published in the journal Child Development, supports the view that motivation and cognitive learning strategies outweigh intelligence as the top factors driving long-term achievement, particularly in math."
"A new University of Melbourne study suggests that up to 10 per cent of the population is affected by specific learning disabilities (SLDs). Disabilities include problems with math (dyscalculia), reading (dyslexia) and autism, translating to two or three pupils in every classroom."
The Wall Street Journal
"U.S. public-education spending per student fell in 2011 for the first time in more than three decades, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data issued Tuesday. Spending for elementary and high schools across the 50 states and Washington, D.C. averaged $10,560 per pupil in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2011."
"As parents and teachers, we may be wondering if the introduction of technology into the lives of children is changing the way children play, learn, think and express their own creativity. Do the changes signal the demise of traditional toy and game play, or is it possible to encourage and manage both to the benefit of the child?"
"When I was in third grade, a teacher I didn't know walked into my reading class, called my name, and then led me down the hall and into her office. "Do you know why you're here?" she asked, offering me a seat at a table next to her desk..."
"With all of the high-stakes testing in our schools, and the resulting judgments and consequences for students and teachers, it is no wonder that schools are taking time away from activities like recess, breaks, art, music... to spend more time on academics. Yet I believe, based on what I have seen in schools, that we should move in the opposite direction, and take time out of academics in the early elementary years to focus on making students feel safe, secure, and confident in the classroom, in other words making them ripe for learning."
"High school students today are reading books intended for children with reading levels far below those appropriate for teens, according to a recent report. A compilation of the top 40 books teens in grades 9-12 are reading in school shows that the average reading level of that list is 5.3 -- barely above the fifth grade."
"Television appears to be embracing disability more widely with network executives announcing this week a handful of new shows that prominently feature characters with special needs. Of the 17 new shows NBC plans to debut during the 2013-2014 season, three have main characters with disabilities."
"Children are more than one test, once a year, in one sitting. It seems as if many schools and districts have lapsed into a deep state of amnesia of Maslow's hierarchy of needs -- a possible lingering hangover from NCLB. So here's a radical assertion: When assessing and teaching children, the time has more than come for education to embrace the whole child. This approach calls for schools and educators to curtail the deficit model and replace it with the abundance model."
Career Planning and Adult Development Network
"This article explains dyslexia and presents a Career Interest Inventory that is quick and easy to administer and will be useful to career counselors. A wide array of career choices is presented in an appendix that contains the names and professions of 60 highly successful successful men and women with dyslexia."
Huffington Post: Literacy
"Thousands of third-graders may have a sense of déjà vu on the first day of school this year: The number of states that require third-graders to be held back if they can’t read increased to 13 in the last year. Retention policies are controversial because the research is mixed for students who are held back, but a report published on August 16th by the Brookings Institution suggests that at least for younger children who struggle with reading, repeating a grade may be beneficial."
Huffington Post: Politics
'Thirty-two states have passed legislation designed to improve third-grade literacy, according to the Education Commission of the States. Retention is part of the policies in 14 states, with some offering more leeway than others. "Passing children up the grade ladder when we know they can't read is irresponsible – and cruel," said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback in announcing in his recent State of the State address that third-graders should demonstrate an ability to read before being promoted. He also proposed a $12 million program for improving third-graders' reading skills.'
U.S. Department of Education
"The National Education Technology Plan, Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, calls for applying the advanced technologies used in our daily personal and professional lives to our entire education system to improve student learning, accelerate and scale up the adoption of effective practices, and use data and information for continuous improvement."
Find out more about the plan's specific goals!"
LearningWorks for Kids
"If we are to help children generalize the use of game-based thinking skills to real-world activities, first us adults must recognize the potential that technology play has for improving the thinking and academic skills of our children. Maximizing the generalization, or transfer of learning, from one setting to another in the real world requires a series of steps to ensure that the skill is learned effectively, appropriately applied in a new context, and then maintained over time."
Find out how to make gameplay productive in this article!
The New York Times
"Various studies have estimated that as many as 35 percent of college students illicitly take these stimulants to provide jolts of focus and drive during finals and other periods of heavy stress. Many do not know that it is a federal crime to possess the pills without a prescription and that abuse can lead to anxiety, depression and, occasionally, psychosis."
"Although few experts dispute that stimulant medications can be safe and successful treatments for many people with a proper A.D.H.D. diagnosis, the growing concern about overuse has led some universities, as one student health director put it, 'to get out of the A.D.H.D. business.'"
The Washington Post
"ADHD, short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is indeed real. It is a complex condition with variable symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association (2000) estimates that 3-5 percent of kids have it. The biological basis is becoming better understood, but is still not completely clear. Fortunately, it is treatable, and the treatments that you have no doubt heard about—stimulant medications—are effective for most children. Unfortunately, there is not much evidence that purely behavioral or talk therapies are as effective as medications."
Smarthistory & Khan Academy
"Traditional textbooks are prohibitively expensive for many and do not take advantage of the digital technologies that are reshaping education. For example, textbooks often use only a single image to represent a work of art, they speak with an authoritative but impersonal voice, and they rarely incorporate the many valuable resources that universities, libraries and museums make available."
"We built Smarthistory to emphasize the experience of looking at art by using unscripted conversations recorded in front of the work of art whenever possible, by incorporating numerous images and video, and by curating links to high-quality resources on the web."
"Smarthistory joined Khan Academy in October 2011. Our missions are perfectly aligned—we are all working toward a 'free world-class education for anyone anywhere.'"
Special Education News
"Computers like laptops and desktops are a common sight in classrooms nowadays and children are being taught using various computer programs. However, special education schools are now starting to see the effectiveness of using iPods as part of educational tools."
The Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Education
"Some children with epilepsy experience marked learning problems. Children with epilepsy may or may not have learning weaknesses that fit the traditional definition of a “specific learning disability”. A learning disability (or disorder) refers to a condition in which a person is reading, writing and/or arithmetic skills are significantly weaker than expected based on their intellectual ability (i.e. their IQ). A learning disability needs to be distinguished from a low intellectual ability (e.g., a mental handicap or borderline intellectual functioning), which is typically associated with difficulties in most academic skill areas."
"Teaching performance is difficult to improve in part because the profession is so large. With about 4 million teachers in the profession, efforts to boost quality tend to take place on the margins. Many efforts focus on expanding the pool of new teachers entering the workforce, and on encouraging more teachers to work with special education and low-income students."