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New York Times Magazine
Never before has the pressure to perform on high-stakes tests been so intense or meant so much for a child’s academic future. As more school districts strive for accountability, standardized tests have proliferated. The pressure to do well on achievement tests for college is filtering its way down to lower grades, so that even third graders feel as if they are on trial.
The New York Times (NY)
In a follow-up to his May 5 story, John Tierney fields queries from readers about the science of paying attention. Robert Desimone, the director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at M.I.T., and Winifred Gallagher, the author of Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life answer questions about how the brain pays attention.
People who have it sometimes like to call it their superpower, but in reality, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a learning disability. Still, it's surprisingly common among high-achieving business founders, and entrepreneurs afflicted with it are in good company, with Kinko's founder Paul Orfalea and JetBlue founder David Neeleman among the many who talk openly about their having attention-deficit issues. It stands to reason that ADHD would thrive among those calling the shots. While they are often labeled as misfits inside big organizations, their restless creativity dovetails with the high-drama problem-solving associated with running a start-up.
After a week of unabashed hysteria about Scottish chanteuse Susan Boyle, it's time to pause and ask: What's that all about? A psychological boost for a world battered by economic calamity? Or maybe it's just a new reminder of an old truism: You can't judge a book by its cover. Last week, she was on TV from early morning to late night, telling her Cinderella back story (learning-disabled and bullied as a child, singer in the choir, possessor of big dreams) to all who trekked in person or by satellite to her Scottish village outside Edinburgh.
KQED: Mind Shift
Can enhancing spatial thinking improve outcomes in STEM? A new study by David Uttal, David Miller, and Nora Newcombe published in Current Directions in Psychological Science notes that “a recent quantitative synthesis of 206 spatial training studies found an average training improvement of 0.47 standard deviations.” The authors suggest that including spatial thinking in STEM curricula would “enhance the number of Americans with the requisite cognitive skills to enter STEM careers.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Next year Wisconsin students with disabilities could attend a public school outside their home district or a private school with a taxpayer subsidy, under a bill coming before the state Assembly on Tuesday. The proposal is just one of a series of education bills on a daunting legislative calendar as the Legislature wraps up its session this week.
Increasing the spacing between characters and words in a text improves the speed and quality of dyslexic children's reading, without prior training. They read 20% faster on average and make half as many errors. This is the conclusion reached by a French-Italian research team, jointly headed by Johannes Ziegler of the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université).
The Montreal Gazette (Canada)
Like his creator — author and actor Henry Winkler — the hero of the best-selling "Hank Zipzer: The World's Greatest Underachiever" series isn't so hot with words or numbers. Also like Winkler, Hank is a popular class clown whose adventures, and misadventures, revolve around the fifth-grader trying to compensate for his learning disabilities.
Downey Patriot (CA)
West Middle School and its library have not been the same since identical twins Brittany and Brianna Winner, 13, held an assembly on Nov. 6 called, "If You Can Dream It, You Can Write It." The creators of "The Strand Prophecy" are the youngest award winning authors in the United States and they are dyslexic.
As implementation of the redesigned GED approaches, test-takers are rushing to complete the old GED test before Jan. 1, when the new version makes its debut. The 2014 version of the test will have more rigorous questions to align itself with the Common Core standards. It will also combine what were previously the writing and literature sections, bringing the number of test sections down from five to four. It will also now be completely computerized and test-takers will be required to use computer calculators.
Los Angeles Times
She took on successive bureaucracies, demanding a proper education for Michael while he sat in juvenile hall and then county jail, his learning stagnating as he awaited trial. Now that he's in state prison, another fight may be on the horizon.
The Age (Australia)
There's a simple, powerful example Traci Fidler uses to show how her four-year-old son's social and learning problems have eased — Brodie gets more invitations to birthday parties. The occupational and speech therapy Brodie receives every week as well as working on his motor skills is helping him a lot.
For tens of thousands of children, special education offers an opportunity for lives of contribution and achievement. But for others, especially those with profound disabilities, that promise has been marred by a public education system that is inconsistent, stretched to the limit and challenged by children with a confounding array of complex disabilities. It is so flawed that some Colorado parents of disabled children have given up on the inclusive education they, and their predecessors, fought to get.
Arizona Daily Star
In the fifth grade, her school placed Linda Payne in a special-education class. Clearly she had a learning disability but no one bothered to find out exactly what. She entered adulthood lost, believing it was her fault she could not read. A turning point for Payne came 12 years ago. She was diagnosed as dyslexic and a new world began to spell out to her.
The Berkshire Eagle (MA)
Learning disorders can be complex in origin and definition. But at Tuesday's Hillcrest Educational Centers conference on the topic in Pittsfield, MA, they were summed up on the side of a candy bar. Each of the 135 participants yesterday were given a familiar-looking chocolate bar in dark mocha-colored wrapper. But instead of the bold-faced silver lettering reading "Hershey's," for example, the bar was labeled "Dyslexia."
Times Picayune (LA)
Floyd Allen's story speaks to the entangling forces that can keep scores of New Orleans students, often left to fend for themselves through turbulent lives, from graduating on time — or at all. Diagnosed with a learning disability in middle school, Allen did not always receive the extra attention he needed.
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (NY)
The general public, including employers, is recognizing that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder isn't limited to children wriggling in their seats. Estimates suggest between 30 percent and 70 percent of children show some symptoms into adulthood.
Compared with other children, those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder have more inconsistent responses when doing short-term memory tasks, a new study finds.
More complaints of disability-related job discrimination were filed last year than ever before. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 26,379 claims of job bias citing disability issues in the 2012 fiscal year.
The Leaf Chronicle (TN)
If you have a child with a disability or a special need, you have an advocate in STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) says Trudy Sanders. Sanders is a state certified child advocate who has been instrumental is scheduling a Nov. 18 workshop called "First Step: Basic Rights: A Parent's Introduction to Special Education" sponsored by Progressive Directions, Inc.