K-12 Recent News Roundup: Sept. 14, 2018

With so many stories in the news every day, it’s easy to miss developments that are relevant to you and your district, school, or classroom. We’ve gathered a variety of highlights in education news so you can stay up to date on issues that matter to you. 

New Study Highlights a Rise in ADHD Diagnoses in Children

A new study reports a significant increase in the number of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) between 1998 and 2016, according to Disability Scoop. The cited research evaluated the prevalence of ADHD diagnoses in children ages 4-17, which has reached a high of more than 10 percent.

To explain this rise, some have pointed to overdiagnosing in recent years. The researchers say this have found no evidence to verifying that claim. Others argueing that the condition is better understood now than it was 20 years ago, and access to health care has improved. Also, the stereotype that surrounds ADHD—that it only develops in white, middle-class boys—has faded over time, allowing children of other genders, races, and socioeconomic status to be properly diagnosed. The prevalence of ADHD diagnoses by race in the late 1990s was 7.2 percent of white children, 4.7 percent of black children, and 3.6 of Hispanic children. In 2016, this changed to 12 percent white, 12.8 percent black, and 6.1 percent Hispanic.

Whatever the reason, this new information highlights the importance of accessible lessons and classrooms.

California Migrant Students No Longer Forced to Move Mid-Year

A policy in California, known as the “50-mile regulation,” required migrant families living in state-subsidized housing to move at least 50 miles away for several months between harvests, displacing many students mid-school year. According to CALmatters, a new exemption will allow migrant workers with families to remain in town until the school year ends.

Children who frequently move or miss school have a lower likelihood of graduating and risk retention. Classrooms with high mobility can also have detrimental effects for the students who remain behind, as this upheaval disrupts their learning experience. The stability provided by this new bill could have a positive impact on all California students affected by migratory movements.

Nation Averages ‘C’ Grade in Education Week’s Yearly Achievement Index

Education Week has updated its yearly Achievement Index report on the state of K-12 public education in the U.S., with the average grade rounding out to 72.7. While an overall grade of “C” may be lower than one would hope, it does reveal a slow but steady positive trend. The national average in 2008 was 69.4, and it has increased ever since.

Massachusetts leads the nation for the 11th year in a row, with a score of 88, followed by New Jersey (84.7) and Virginia (79.8). Louisiana and New Mexico earned the lowest scores, 60.9 and 61.5, respectively.

Education Week calculates this index using 18 markers, prioritizing data such as National Assessment of Educational Progress results, AP exam scores, and graduation rates. Besides academic status, states are also graded on equity and change over time. The equity grade is calculated by examining the gaps in test scores for students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. In general, most states ranked higher in their equity rating than they did in other areas.

How One District Used VR to Transform the Learning Experience  

In an interview with EdTech, Kris Hupp, the Cornell School District’s director of technology and instructional innovation, spoke about the impact that VR has had on his students. The new technology is one of many new features Hupp’s school has implemented, including interactive displays, collaborative furniture, and an outdoor learning space.

When asked why his district is uniquely capable to introduce VR, Hupp cited professional development and his colleagues’ willingness to take risks. His district first experimented with the new technology in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University. Graduate students worked with teachers and students to create a VR experience that would directly relate to their lessons. By exploring virtual environments, students can now personally experience marvels such as the Great Pyramids that were once relegated to pictures and textbooks.

Some advice for other school districts interested in investing in VR: “Start small,” Hupp suggested, and “make sure you have a strong wireless network.”

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HMH publishes a news roundup every other Friday. Check out the next one on Sept. 28.