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    #133829 - 07/12/12 09:26 AM Re: Quota system would dilute school's quality [Re: ultramarina]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3290
    Loc: California
    Originally Posted By: ultramarina
    Originally Posted By: Val
    As I mentioned, IMO, the best way to help disadvantaged kids would be to give them free nutritious food at school twice a day starting in kindergarten.


    This sounds very nice and all that, but how about some back-up?


    Google "malnutrition affects intelligence" or something similar on Google or Google Scholar.

    Malnutrition In Early Years Leads To Low IQ And Later Antisocial Behavior, USC Study Finds.

    or

    Effects of nutrition on learning


    One hit from Google scholar says a lot:

    "Many policymakers propose early childhood nutrition programs as a way to increase students’ academic achievement. This paper investigates the nutrition–learning nexus using a unique longitudinal data set that follows a large sample of Filipino children from birth until the end of their primary education. We find that better nourished children perform significantly better in school, partly because they enter school earlier and thus have more time to learn but mostly because of greater learning productivity per year of schooling. Our cost–benefit analysis suggests that a dollar invested in an early childhood nutrition program in a developing country could potentially return at least three dollars worth of gains in academic achievement, and perhaps much more." (Glewwe et al Journal of Public Economics 2000; 81:345).


    There are reams and reams of studies supporting this idea. I also mentioned the importance of making high-quality prenatal care available to poor people.

    Originally Posted By: ultramarina
    Especially look at the Abcedarian project:

    http://evidencebasedprograms.org/wordpress/?page_id=70


    A much larger study repeated the Abcedarian project and found that early gains had been lost by age five in the target children (low birthweight). They also found a positive correlation with high-birthweight children, but it was after the fact, and they hadn't made this prediction when they started the study. Thus they probably didn't control for it properly during study design. I believe that this is a statistical no-no (could be wrong).

    AFAIK, Abcedarian project wasn't a randomized study; I'm not sure. If it wasn't, there could have been a bias that affected the results (another statistical no-no). It was definitely small.

    I'm not saying that early intervention isn't worthwhile. I'm just saying that the evidence I've seen doesn't support the dramatic claims that some people make.


    Originally Posted By: ultramarina


    Here's more information on both Perry and Abcedarian.

    [/quote]

    Top
    #133834 - 07/12/12 10:17 AM Re: Quota system would dilute school's quality [Re: Bostonian]
    ultramarina Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/24/10
    Posts: 3423
    Val, those studies are looking at malnutrition in developing countries and in birds. The article on Filipino children you cite includes this info: "Almost half of the children in the sample are currently stunted, i.e., their height-for-age is at least two standard deviations below the mean for a healthy US population." We are talking about apples and oranges here. I'm certainly not disputing that malnutrition of the type seen in developing countries affects development, growth, and learning. I'm sure a degree of actual *hunger*, which, true, isn't as rare as we might think, also affects some American children's ability to learn, but it's not typically developing-world style hunger, andwe already have free and reduced-price lunch and breakfast. I quite agree that the quality of these meals is poor and would like to see it improved. However, I quite strongly disagree that we have the evidence to say that THIS is where the money should go to improve academic outcomes in low-income kids. Show me a large study, randomized, where school lunch and breakfast quality was dramatically improved and test scores went way up. It would be a bombshell and I would love to use it in my line of work!


    Edited by ultramarina (07/12/12 10:27 AM)
    Edit Reason: additional info

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    #133835 - 07/12/12 10:20 AM Re: Quota system would dilute school's quality [Re: Bostonian]
    ultramarina Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/24/10
    Posts: 3423
    Quote:
    AFAIK, Abcedarian project wasn't a randomized study; I'm not sure.


    You are incorrect.

    "This program was evaluated in one randomized controlled trial of 111 participating children, followed through 21 years of age."

    Here's a nice article that summarizes a recent article that came out on the participants, who are still being followed. Very few programs get results like this.

    http://uncnews.unc.edu/content/view/5032/107/


    Edited by ultramarina (07/12/12 10:23 AM)

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    #133837 - 07/12/12 10:26 AM Re: Quota system would dilute school's quality [Re: Val]
    AlexsMom Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/01/10
    Posts: 741
    Originally Posted By: Val
    As I mentioned, IMO, the best way to help disadvantaged kids would be to give them free nutritious food at school twice a day starting in kindergarten. [...] There are reams and reams of studies supporting this idea.


    Supporting the idea that starting adequate nourishment in kindergarten, limited to 180 days a year, reverses the effects of 5 years of inadequate nutrition? The two human studies you provided were working with much younger kids.

    I could get behind "free nutritious food every day, starting significantly prior to conception," as a best way, but free school breakfast and lunch is a day late and a dollar short.

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    #133838 - 07/12/12 10:52 AM Re: Quota system would dilute school's quality [Re: Bostonian]
    ultramarina Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/24/10
    Posts: 3423
    Also, I'm naturally going to be skeptical of the practice of citing Charles Murray as though he is a neutral academic.

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    #133843 - 07/12/12 11:29 AM Re: Quota system would dilute school's quality [Re: AlexsMom]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3290
    Loc: California
    Originally Posted By: AlexsMom
    Originally Posted By: Val
    As I mentioned, IMO, the best way to help disadvantaged kids would be to give them free nutritious food at school twice a day starting in kindergarten. [...] There are reams and reams of studies supporting this idea.


    Supporting the idea that starting adequate nourishment in kindergarten, limited to 180 days a year, reverses the effects of 5 years of inadequate nutrition? The two human studies you provided were working with much younger kids.

    I could get behind "free nutritious food every day, starting significantly prior to conception," as a best way, but free school breakfast and lunch is a day late and a dollar short.


    I never said that you can reverse the effects of 5 years of inadequate nutrition (??). Please don't make unfounded accusations that derail a debate and turn it into a shouting match.

    I did say (more than once) that access to prenatal care is very important. I absolutely agree that our society should help poor kids get nutritious food starting very early. I also think that the easiest place to start is in school, because free lunch programs are already in place. But they need to substitute good food for fried food and get rid of soda machines (as I also mentioned earlier).

    As for the Abcedarian project, the study was very small and the larger study didn't get the same results. Also, this peer-reviewed critique of the project says that the IQ differences found at ages two and three had disappeared by age five. The abstract notes that "these results are typical of early intervention studies." The paper itself presents a detailed critique of the study and raises specific points that weren't addressed by the Abcedarian authors. This is not typically a good sign. It also raises some signficant weaknesses with Abcedarian. If anyone wants the critique, PM me and I'll email it.

    I've read many education studies that claim incredible/miraculous/fantastic results. On close inspection, the studies have more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese (this one stands out as being a particularly bad example of pseudoscience), yet it's been widely cited. But the problem is that most people accept what the authors claim at face value. People rarely take the time to carefully analyze miraculous findings of an education study. When someone DOES make a criticism, s/he's often ignored or shouted down with epithets that distract from the actual criticism.

    Honestly, this stuff drives me nuts because I see so many of these kinds of studies being funded and published, and we waste money and effort chasing fantasies.

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    #133846 - 07/12/12 11:40 AM Re: Quota system would dilute school's quality [Re: ultramarina]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3290
    Loc: California
    Originally Posted By: ultramarina
    Also, I'm naturally going to be skeptical of the practice of citing Charles Murray as though he is a neutral academic.


    I agree that his most recent book didn't make strong points and relied too much on emotional arguments.

    But The Bell Curve and Real Education use numerous peer-reviewed citations to support their contentions. I read some of the papers they cited and didn't find evidence that the conclusion of the original authors had been manipulated. And Murray didn't write The Bell Curve by himself; his co-author was a respected academic from Harvard.

    The problem, IMO, is that people don't like what the books say and react emotionally to them. I think that people also make invalid assumptions about what those books say. The books (especially The Bell Curve) are reporting results of studies other people did, not making their own original judgments.

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    #133848 - 07/12/12 11:45 AM Re: Quota system would dilute school's quality [Re: Bostonian]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    The truth is that... well, there probably aren't any silver bullet solutions which will improve outcomes for all children.

    There are also probably any number of interventions which are simply a good idea because they are, from a humanitarian standpoint, a good thing to be doing for children who are disadvantaged in one way or another.

    But it's quite a leap to suggest that any of those things is "The Solution" to educational disparity, much less that they'll result in performance parity.

    Some kids no doubt are smarter than others via genetics. No doubt, also, that some kids are stunted intellectually by poor environment.

    In between is a vast gulf of hairs to split and experimental error to lose ourselves within. Maybe there is no one "best way" to solve all problems here, hmm?

    Just a thought.
    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #133877 - 07/12/12 03:17 PM Re: Quota system would dilute school's quality [Re: Val]
    AlexsMom Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/01/10
    Posts: 741
    Originally Posted By: Val
    Please don't make unfounded accusations that derail a debate and turn it into a shouting match.


    Please support your assertions with relevant research, rather that citing studies that don't support your claim, or by referring to "reams and reams of studies" not in evidence.

    Originally Posted By: Val
    I also think that the easiest place to start is in school


    If you'd said "easiest," to begin with, I'd have no issue with your earlier statement. "Easiest" is why there's already free school breakfast and lunch in the US. My gripe was with the unsupported assertion that free breakfast and lunch are "best" - if we're already doing the best thing, there's no need to do anything else.

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    #133880 - 07/12/12 03:51 PM Re: Quota system would dilute school's quality [Re: ultramarina]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3290
    Loc: California
    Originally Posted By: ultramarina
    Show me a large study, randomized, where school lunch and breakfast quality was dramatically improved and test scores went way up. It would be a bombshell and I would love to use it in my line of work!


    This one studied over a thousand kids.

    Longitudinal study; not randomized: behavior improved significantly, including fewer dropouts. The article also says this:

    Quote:
    The behavior of the students in Appleton is consistent with previous, more rigorous scientific studies that suggest that better school lunches improve student performance, says the WELL Said post:

    Proof exists that reducing sugar and fat intake leads to higher IQ’s and improved grades in school. Stephen Schoenthaler, professor of criminal justice at California State University proved that much when he conducted a study on students at 803 low-income neighborhood schools in New York City. With a supervised change in the students’ diets, passing final exam grades went from 11% below the national average to 5% above it.


    See page 5 of this report, which has references at the end:

    Quote:
    A growing body of research connects better nutrition with higher achievement on standardized tests; increased cognitive function, attention, and memory; and an array of positive behavioral indicators, including better school attendance and cooperation. Hungry teens are more likely to be suspended from school, experience difficulty getting along with other children, and have no friends. Undernourished children are more likely to repeat a grade and require more special education and mental health services. Nutrient deficiencies, refined sugars and carbohydrates, pesticide residues, preservatives, and artificial colorings in food have all been associated with altered thinking and behavior as well as neurodevelopmental disorders.


    Or just do a Google search.

    Look, I'm not saying that improving food quality is a magic solution to solving underachievement. But I've seen enough to know that it's a good start.

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