GAO: Less Than Half of School Districts Test Water for Lead

WASHINGTON (AP) — A survey of school districts around the country finds that less than half test their water for lead, and among those that do more than a third detected elevated levels of the toxin, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

Lead can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in children.

The report, released by the Government Accountability Office, is based on a survey of 549 school districts across the United States. It estimates that 41 percent of school districts, serving 12 million students, did not test for lead in the water in 2016 and 2017.

Of the 43 percent that did test for lead, about 37 percent reported elevated levels. Sixteen percent of schools said they did not know whether they test for lead, the report says.

Full story at US News

Scared Of Math? Here’s One Way To Fight The Fear

Do you remember the day you decided you were no good at math?

Or maybe you had the less common, opposite experience: a moment of math excitement that hooked you for good?

Thousands of studies have been published that touch on the topic of “math anxiety.” Overwhelming fear of math, regardless of one’s actual aptitude, affects students of all ages, from kindergarten to grad school.

This anxiety extends to the daily lives of grown-ups; we put off planning for retirement, avoid trying to understand health risks and even try to get out of calculating a tip. And even teachers suffer from math anxiety, which has been shown to hurt their students’ scores, especially when the teachers and the students are both female; the theory is that anxiety interacts with negative stereotypes about women’s abilities.

Full story at NPR

Parenting In The Age Of Screens: Here’s What The Experts Do

Parents today struggle to set screen time guidelines.

One big reason is a lack of role models. Grandma doesn’t have any tried-and-true sayings about iPad time. This stuff is just too new.

But many experts on kids and media are also parents themselves. So when I was interviewing dozens of them for my book The Art of Screen Time, I asked them how they made screen time rules at home.

None of them held themselves up as paragons, but it was interesting to see how the priorities they focused on in their own research corresponded with the priorities they set at home.

Full story at ed.gov

Trump Administration Backs Off Reshuffling of Student Debt Collection

The Department of Education planned this month to begin reshaping the role of private debt collection firms in handling student loans by pulling defaulted borrower accounts from a handful of large private contractors.

Lawmakers who control the department’s budget had other ideas.

After a recent Senate spending package warned the department against dropping the debt collectors, the plan is on hold. And it’s not clear how those companies will figure into the Trump administration’s proposed overhaul of student loan servicing.

Private loan servicers handle payments from borrowers on their student loans and provide information on payment plan options. When borrowers go more than 270 days without making a payment on their loans, they are considered to be in default. Those companies are tasked with collecting on more than $84 billion in defaulted student loan debt.

Full story at Inside Higher ED

This College For Adult Learners Is A Refuge, Not Just A Career Boost

In the U.S., more than 4 out of 10 undergraduate college students are above the age of 25. When people talk about these adult students, you usually hear words like “job skills” and “quickest path to a degree.”

But for more than four decades, a special program in Washington state has sought to offer much more than that.

It’s called the Tacoma Program. Back in 1972, Maxine Mimms, a professor at The Evergreen State College, created a new kind of college at her kitchen table, designed to serve students who are starting over in life, and to give them access to deep, transformational learning.

Full story at NPR

Evenness vs. Isolation in Schools

HAVE U.S. SCHOOLS become more racially segregated in the past two decades? It should seem a simple question to answer, based on the racial composition of schools then and now. But it’s a raging debate among academics, journalists and policy advocates. It turns out that there are different ways to measure segregation or racial diversity and the different measures can sometimes point in opposite directions.

Consider the city of Providence, R.I. In 2000, just over a third, or 36 percent of the district’s 55 public schools were at least 90 percent minority – black, Hispanic or Asian. Fifteen years later, almost three quarters, or 74 percent, of the schools were 90 percent or more non-white. At first glance, that might look like a dramatic resegregation. It was the biggest jump in non-white schools of any district in the nation, according to Meredith Richards, an expert in school segregation at Southern Methodist University, who calculated these figures for The Hechinger Report.

Full story at US News

Gaming Addiction Disorder; White House Pitches Big Changes For Education Department

Gaming disorder is the newest addictive disorder listed in the World Health Organization’s medical diagnostic guide. Symptoms include prioritizing video games over responsibilities and other activities, having no control over impulses to play, and increasing time spent playing video games regardless of the consequences. To be diagnosed, a person must have “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning” in the last year, according to the WHO.

Gaming disorder was added because a number of treatment programs for adults and teens with this addiction have sprung up around the world, the organization said. Additionally, the WHO reviewed existing evidence and consulted with experts before the addition.

Dr. Michael Bishop runs a treatment program he calls “a summer camp for screen overuse,” and this spring he told NPR’s Anya Kamenetz that one category of teens he often sees is boys, overwhelmingly, who spend so much time playing video games that they “fall behind in their social skills.” Often they are battling depression or anxiety, or they may be on the autism spectrum.

Full story at npr.org

Educating Migrant Children in Shelters: 6 Things to Know

After weeks of insisting Democrats were ultimately responsible for the migrant-child crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, President Donald Trump did an about-face Wednesday, reversing a policy that has separated thousands of migrant children from their families—most of whom are coming from Central American countries. But meanwhile, thousands of children will remain in federal custody and are entitled to certain education services while they remain there.

Full story at edweek.org

How Virtual Advisers Help Low-Income Students Apply To College

Some high school students think of applying to colleges as a full-time job. There are essays and tests, loads of financial documents to assemble and calculations to make. After all that, of course, comes a big decision — one of the biggest of their young lives.

For top students who come from low-income families, the challenge is particularly difficult.

Research shows that 1 in 4 juggle all of that — the writing, the studying, the researching and applying — completely on their own. One approach to make this whole process easier? Pair students up with someone who can help, a mentor or adviser, virtually.

Full story at npr.org

Oregon Certificate Holders Can Double Earnings, Research Shows

Earning a bachelor’s degree used to be seen as the best way to guarantee getting a good job, but many students are now turning to certificates as an accessible, more-affordable route to professional opportunities.

Certificates are diplomas geared toward particular occupations. It takes less time to earn one than it does traditional post-secondary degrees — many certificates take several months to earn, compared to two years for an associate degree or four years for a bachelor’s. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, obtaining a certificate can help people increase their earnings later in life. Its report, “Certificates in Oregon: A Model for Workers to Jump-Start or Reboot Careers,” analyzes the effects of an academic certificate on the lives of their recipients in Oregon. The report found that the benefits of a certificate vary for workers depending on career, age and gender, but completing a college certificate typically boosts workers’ overall earnings by almost $5,000, or 19 percent, compared to their previous wages.

Full story at US News