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Nurturing Children’s Language Skills Could Help Shield Them From Depression

The U.S. News and World Report – Michael O. Schroeder

“At the earliest stages of development, kids learn language by interacting with parents, through being read to and listening to conversations in which they aren’t involved. These language skills will prove critical to forming relationships with family and peers as they grow. And recent research suggests stimulating this type of early language development in the home environment may help reduce a child’s risk for developing depression later on – where, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2 percent of children ages 3 to 17 have a current diagnosis of depression.”(more)

Children need to know stress is normal, not necessarily a mental health problem

The Guardian – Dave Clements

“There is a statistic often quoted by children’s mental health campaigners: 10% of children and young people (aged five to 16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem. It comes from a 2004 report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) (pdf), but its methodology is questionable – the diagnoses were made using transcripts of ONS interviews, by clinicians who never met the children in question. But what’s really revealing is the researchers’ broad definition of a mental health problem.”(more)

Survey: Parents prefer texting and mobile communication from schools

E-School News – Laura Devaney

“Determining the right mix of traditional and digital tools to best engage with parents and district stakeholders remains a primary challenge for district communications, according to a new report. A large part of a school district’s ability to implement successful initiatives or pass bonds lies in its communications and its ability to connect with community members. Now, a new report from Blackboard and Project Tomorrow outlines the different roles district communications officials play in today’s schools. The results reflect the increasingly important yet challenging role of communications in today’s K-12 districts.”(more)

Nobel Lessons for Education Researchers and Policymakers

Education Next – Derek Neal

“This year, Bengt Holmstrom received the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on contract theory. Holmstrom does not work on education per se, but he has spent much of his career writing about the use of incentive contracts in settings where worker actions are hard to observe and worker output is difficult to quantify, e.g. educators in schools. We live in an information age, and for decades we have seen organizations employ new measurement technologies and create new performance metrics for workers, teams, or organizations. Many non-economists assume that economists believe that more performance metrics and more performance pay always mean more efficiency. However, Holmstrom’s work teaches us that the world is not so simple. The details of performance pay schemes matter, and new incentive schemes built around new performance metrics do not always improve performance.”(more)

Personalized learning: How kids are getting into college by mastering their skills

The Hechinger Report – Brian Stack

“A student-centered personalized-learning model known as competency education has gained traction over the past five years as states have developed policies to promote its adoption in both elementary and secondary schools. Born from the notion that the old system has significant limitations and flaws in both its structure and its execution in the schools of today, competency education uses a student’s ability to transfer knowledge and apply skills to organize learning. Students refine these skills based on goal-setting, ungraded feedback known as the formative assessment. When they are ready, the students demonstrate their understanding by performing thoughtfully developed tasks that determine how much learning has taken place. This evaluation is called the summative assessment.”(more)

Why top US education official wants to lift cap on charter schools

The Christian Science Monitor – Amanda Hoover

“Education Secretary John King jumped into the charter school debate Wednesday to praise the schools and call for a lift of the “arbitrary caps” on the institutions. The publicly-funded, privately-operated schools have become an increasingly contentious and partisan issue. Supporters argue that they provide families, especially those in urban areas, with increased choices when traditional public schools fail. Opponents cite cases of mismanagement and claim that the schools drain funds from the non-charter public school system. On Nov. 8, voters in Massachusetts will confront the issue first hand with a ballot question regarding the expansion of charter schools in their state. It’s the only state with a charter school ballot initiative this year.”(more)