Saturday, October 29, 2011

News Updates

From the NY Times, a story about a CDCP  advisory committee recommending vaccinating boys and young men against human papillomavirus (HPV).

The committee recommended that boys ages 11 and 12 should be vaccinated. It also recommended vaccination of males ages 13 through 21 who had not already had all three shots. Vaccinations may be given to boys as young as 9 and to men between the ages of 22 and 26.

HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease — between 75 percent and 80 percent of females and males in the United States will be infected at some point in their lives. Most will overcome the infection with no ill effects. But in some people, infections lead to cellular changes that cause warts or cancer, including cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women and anal cancers in men and women. A growing body of evidence suggests that HPV also causes throat cancers in men and women as a result of oral sex.

And not to get too graphic here, folks, but for those of you with younger children, you should understand that many teens today have this idea that oral sex is like a kiss or petting.  They like to say they don't have sex (intercourse) but many who are sexually active, do engage in oral sex.  

From another education blog, Greg Linden's, a story about the latest study published by the National Academies of Science: Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education.  Two conclusions:
  • Test-based incentive programs, as designed and implemented in the programs that have been carefully studied, have not increased student achievement enought to bring the U.S. close ot the levels of the highest achieving countries.

  • The evidence we have reviewed suggests that high school exit exam programs, as currently implemented in the U.S., decrease the rate of high school graduation without increasing achievement. 

  • An op-ed from the Texas Tribune (via the NY Times) about how some legislators may be tacitly ignoring the high school drop-out rate for their own benefit.  

    Every time a student drops out of public school, taxpayers save money. That’s one fewer student, at a savings of more than $11,000 per year from state and local sources.

    The dropout problem has a longer fuse. The reward for fixing it is somewhere in the future, way past the next election.

    The public schools are on a 13-year clock, starting with kindergarten and ending with the fourth year of high school. The budgeteers are on a two-year clock that starts and ends in even-numbered years. 

    Their horizons are determined by the election calendar. Politicians are actually pretty responsive. They react to the things that will hurt them politically, and to the things that will help them politically. And the judgments they’re concerned with are those delivered by voters.

    From The Grio website, a story about how Berkeley's school district has the best success with African-American students in the US.

    One of the school districts with over 75 percent of its African-American student body graduating is located on the West Coast. Out of 271 African-American students who attended Berkeley High School, 205 graduated last year. That's one of the highest African-American graduation rates in the country. 
     The Berkeley Unified School District made closing the education gap a top priority.

    Just three years ago the school district, led by a grassroots coalition of community, civic and religious organizations, including the group Parents of Children of African Descent initiated a program called the 2020 Vision program. The program's sole focus is to close the achievement gap in Berkeley public schools by the year 2020.

    From the Smithsonian website, Why are Finland's Schools Successful?

    “Whatever it takes” is an attitude that drives not just Kirkkojarvi’s 30 teachers, but most of Finland’s 62,000 educators in 3,500 schools from Lapland to Turku—professionals selected from the top 10 percent of the nation’s graduates to earn a required master’s degree in education. Many schools are small enough so that teachers know every student. If one method fails, teachers consult with colleagues to try something else. They seem to relish the challenges. Nearly 30 percent of Finland’s children receive some kind of special help during their first nine years of school. 

    The school where Louhivuori teaches served 240 first through ninth graders last year; and in contrast with Finland’s reputation for ethnic homogeneity, more than half of its 150 elementary-level students are immigrants—from Somalia, Iraq, Russia, Bangladesh, Estonia and Ethiopia, among other nations. “Children from wealthy families with lots of education can be taught by stupid teachers,” Louhivuori said, smiling. “We try to catch the weak students. It’s deep in our thinking.”

    Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

    This is a long article but worth reading if only for inspiration.


    dan dempsey said...

    WOWZERS ... Think about WA State's actions recently on funding and attendance etc.....

    From TX=>

    Every time a student drops out of public school, taxpayers save money. That’s one fewer student, at a savings of more than $11,000 per year from state and local sources.

    Guess if the Texas Shoe fits wear it.

    seattle citizen said...

    The Berkeley community that Melissa notes has rallied around the students, which of course what needs to be done nationally and in Seattle but isn't. Here and in most of the country, you read about data (*cough* state tests *cough*). Down there in Berkeley they tink that it's about the community and the "education gap," which I think it a fine thing to call the problem we face. From the article:
    "'It's not just the district. It's the city of Berkeley, the university, the people and faith-based organizations,' said Debbi D'Angelo District Director of Research and Berkeley Evaluation and Assessment. 'It's just so powerful. Everybody is working together.'...'I think that the things we have done is to make the education more personal,' says Karen Hemphill, an African-American mother of a recent Berkeley High School graduate [and school board member.]

    WV lives at the equator and tells its child not to tropot.

    Anonymous said...

    Friend of mine had throat cancer caused by HPV. He's male. Lots of nasty treatment but he's going to be ok.


    dan dempsey said...

    SC said:

    Here and in most of the country, you read about data (*cough* state tests *cough*). Down there in Berkeley they tink that it's about the community and the "education gap,"

    Just watch all the time devoted to MAP testing at the last Board meeting.... data - data - data

    but is there any evidence that the data is being used to increase student achievement?

    Lot of talking about data base lines for Kindergarteners so that achievement can be measured ...

    ... but where is the effort to raise student achievement rather than just get some numbers from some tool?

    and of course the data needed for Collective Bargaining Agreement.

    This District will not even do a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps. .. but rambling on about MAP testing etc. goes on and on and on.

    Greg Linden said...

    Minor typo in your post, Melissa, looks like that was from Greg Laden's education blog. So, Laden, not Linden.