Friday, March 25, 2011

The Matthew Effect - poor reading skills in the elementary grades can lead to life-long learning problems

From Wikipedia:
In education the term Matthew effect has been adopted by Keith Stanovich from sociology, a psychologist who has done extensive research on reading and language disabilities. Stanovich used the term to describe a phenomenon that has been observed in research on how new readers acquire the skills to read: early success in acquiring reading skills usually leads to later successes in reading as the learner grows, while failing to learn to read before the third or fourth year of schooling may be indicative of life-long problems in learning new skills. This is because children who fall behind in reading, read less, increasing the gap between them and their peers. Later, when students need to "read to learn" (where before they were learning to read) their reading difficulty creates difficulty in most other subjects. In this way they fall further and further behind in school, dropping out at a much higher rate than their peers.
In the words of Keith Stanovich (Adams, 1990, pp. 59–60):[1]
Slow reading acquisition has cognitive, behavioral, and motivational consequences that slow the development of other cognitive skills and inhibit performance on many academic tasks. In short, as reading develops, other cognitive processes linked to it track the level of reading skill. Knowledge bases that are in reciprocal relationships with reading are also inhibited from further development. The longer this developmental sequence is allowed to continue, the more generalized the deficits will become, seeping into more and more areas of cognition and behavior. Or to put it more simply -- and sadly -- in the words of a tearful nine-year-old, already falling frustratingly behind his peers in reading progress, "Reading affects everything you do"
We have a crisis on our hands.
Of the fourth-graders who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test in 2009, 83% of children from low-income families—and 85% of low-income students who attend high-poverty schools—failed to reach the “proficient” level in reading.
How does this factor into the "boy problem"?
From elementary through high school, males are reading at lower levels than females.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pearl River school district renegotiates contracts

Pearl River school district:
The teachers and administrators unions have agreed to contract givebacks for the 2011-12 school year to stave off extensive cuts to programs and staffing positions.
The renegotiated contracts were approved Monday and will reduce salary increases for 217 teachers and 11 administrators. School officials said Tuesday that would realize between $900,000 and $1.5 million in savings for the district over the next four years.
The revised agreement cuts teacher salary increases from 2.6 percent to 0.6 percent for the 2011-12 school year. Administrators will see their 2.75 percent salary increase for 2011-12 reduced to zero.
These givebacks may save about 17 teacher positions and elementary music programs, middle school art and technology instruction, along with some high school courses.

But financial problems are likely to continue.
Superintendent Frank Auriemma praised the teachers and administrator s for the voluntary givebacks, although he warned that future reductions in the 2012-13 school year were likely.

The entire article is below.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The effects of the growing female to male ratio in college

The idea that sex ratios alter sexual behavior is well-established. Analysis of demographic data from 117 countries has shown that when men outnumber women, women have the upper hand: Marriage rates rise and fewer children are born outside marriage. An oversupply of women, however, tends to lead to a more sexually permissive culture. The same holds true on college campuses. In the course of researching our book Premarital Sex in America, my co-author and I assessed the effects of campus sex ratios on women's sexual attitudes and behavior. We found that virginity is more common on those campuses where women comprise a smaller share of the student body, suggesting that they have the upper hand. By contrast, on campuses where women outnumber men, they are more negative about campus men, hold more negative views of their relationships, go on fewer dates, are less likely to have a boyfriend, and receive less commitment in exchange for sex.
Found at When Boys Fail

How does this "man shortage" affect marriage rates?  For now, at least, a college degree is a status marker.
As just about everyone (from Dennis Prager to pickup artists) has figured out by now, women tend to want men of high status, men they look up to — literally, in terms of height, and figuratively, in terms of social standing, income, and education. If women systematically outpace men on these status markers — as they are beginning to — they will have to compete for men they deem suitable at a less-than-even ratio. There’s nothing we can do about this that I can think of, but it will not be good for marriage.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Most college graduates unqualified to work at most desired employers?

The Wall Street Journal reports that a survey asked college graduates with one to eight years of work experience to select five ideal employers.
While the top 10 on the list featured several high-tech companies, few young professionals likely have the skills to win jobs at such employers. According to the Education Department, the top majors for the class of 2008 were business, health sciences and social sciences and history. About nine times as many people majored in business in the class of 2008 as majored in computer science.
The top 20 list of employers:
  1. Google
  2. Apple
  3. The Walt Disney Company
  4. U.S. Department of State
  5. Amazon
  6. FBI
  7. Microsoft
  8. Central Intelligence Agency
  9. NASA
  10. Teach for America
  11. Peace Corps
  12. Nike
  13. Johnson & Johnson
  14. National Institutes of Health
  15. Mayo Clinic
  16. Centers for Disease Control
  17. Sony
  18. American Cancer Society
  19. U.S. Department of Energy
  20. Whole Foods Market

Pay cuts cause workers to slack off

These findings are disconcerting, but not surprising.
In experiments where workers were randomly assigned to receive wage cuts, they retaliated by slacking off.
In the comments to this story, it was pointed out that the experiments involved lower-paid workers whose pay was cut with no explanation, important points to consider.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"I think the employees have to become part of the solution."

The Port Chester school district:
"I don't really believe that a tax levy of over 6 percent will pass," board member James Dreves said of the proposed increase. "We run a really lean ship in Port Chester. I think the employees have to become part of the solution."...
Like other districts, Port Chester is coping with declining property values and increased pension costs.
Sounds familiar.

And this is just kicking the can down the road, shifting the burden onto future students.
On the spending side, the district expects to save $1.1 million next year as a result of a retirement incentive taken by 26 teachers and three administrative employees.
Pension reform is desperately needed.

The entire article:

"Directional university"

I learned a new term recently.
A state-supported university in the United States whose name includes a compass direction, e.g. "North state name State University." Many directional universities started out as teachers' colleges, broadening their educational missions in the 1950's or 1960's. In most instances a directional university has easier admissions standards than its state's flagship university ("The University of state name") and serves a greater proportion of commuter/part-time/older students.
California does not have directional universities. As an equivalent, it has universities with the word "State" in their names.  
Job hunting with a degree from a directional university is mighty tough.
Let's see if I can think of a few possible examples.
--  Southern Connecticut State University
--  Midwestern State University
--  Western Nevada College

And my favorite:
--  Eastern New Mexico University, also affectionately known as "Enema U"