Archive for April, 2011

Promoting Early Language and Literacy Development

April 30, 2011 Comments off

Promoting Early Language and Literacy Development (PDF)
Source: Zero to Three

Positive early language and literacy development can give children a window to the world, helping to ensure that each child can seize his or her potential for future success. During the first 3 years of life, the brain undergoes its most dramatic development and children acquire the ability to think, speak, learn, and reason. When this early development is not nurtured, the brain’s architecture is affected and young children begin to fall behind. Many low-income children arrive at school already behind in communication and language, a disadvantage that only persists over time.

Parents and early childhood professionals play a critical role in the development of a child’s early literacy skills. By supporting them in this role, we reap significant dividends throughout a child’s entire scholastic career.

The literacy gap hinders our nation’s ability to create the workforce needed to compete in the global market and ensure future prosperity. Sound policy should be grounded in the fact that young children’s language and literacy development begins long before they walk through the door of a kindergarten classroom. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides an opportunity to begin early in addressing the lagging literacy skills of students in the United States, through sound policy and practice.

OECD — Doing Better for Families

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Doing Better for Families
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
From press release:

Poverty in households with children is rising in nearly all OECD countries. Governments should ensure that family support policies protect the most vulnerable, according to the OECD’s first-ever report on family well-being.

Doing Better for Families says that families with children are more likely to be poor today than in previous decades, when the poorest in society were more likely to be pensioners.

Download the underlying data in Excel

 The share of children living in poor households has risen in many countries over the past decade, to reach 12.7% across the OECD. One in five children in Israel, Mexico, Turkey, the United States and Poland live in poverty. (The OECD defines poor as someone living in a household with less than half the median income, adjusted for family size).

+ Chapter 1. Families are changing (PDF)

Individual country reports also freely available. Full report available for purchase.

STEM Vital Signs

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STEM Vital Signs
Source: Change the Equation

The push for higher standards in K-12 education has been underway for the better part of two decades. But even as some states have created clearer and more rigorous academic standards, many have lowered the bar on their state tests. The result? Too many states are lulling parents and their children into a false sense of security at a time when all students need a much stronger foundation in math and science to thrive in a global economy.

This must change. Change the Equation created “Vital Signs” reports on the condition of STEM learning in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to help measure state performance—and dig deeper into the nation’s education challenges. We aim to arm both business leaders and state leaders with the information they need to make the case for truly high expectations for our nation’s students.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Individual state reports also available.

The State of Preschool 2010

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The State of Preschool 2010
Source: National Institute for Early Education Research

The 2010 State Preschool Yearbook is the eighth in a series of annual reports profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. This latest Yearbook presents data on state-funded prekindergarten during the 2009-2010 school year. The first report in this series focused on programs for the 2001-2002 school year and established a baseline against which we may now measure progress over nine years. Tracking these trends is essential, since changes in states’ policies on preschool education will influence how successfully America’s next generation will compete in the knowledge economy.

The 2010 Yearbook is organized into three major sections. The first section offers a summary of the data, and describes national trends for enrollment in, quality of, and spending on preschool. The second section presents detailed profiles outlining each state’s policies with respect to preschool access, quality standards, and resources for the 2009-2010 program year. In addition to providing basic program descriptions, these state profiles describe unique features of a state’s program and recent changes that can be expected to alter the future Yearbook statistics on a program. Profile pages are again included for states without state-funded programs. A description of our methodology follows the state profiles. The last section of the report contains appendices, which are available online only. The appendices include tables that provide the complete 2009-2010 survey data obtained from every state, as well as Head Start, child care, U.S. Census, and special education data.

Safety of Probiotics Used to Reduce Risk and Prevent or Treat Disease

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Safety of Probiotics Used to Reduce Risk and Prevent or Treat Disease
Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Objectives: To catalog what is known about the safety of interventions containing Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, and/or Bacillus strains used as probiotic agents in research to reduce the risk of, prevent, or treat disease.

Data Sources: We searched 12 electronic databases, references of included studies, and pertinent reviews for studies addressing the safety of probiotics from database inception to August 2010 without language restriction.

Review Methods: We identified intervention studies on probiotics that reported the presence or absence of adverse health outcomes in human participants, without restriction by study design, participant type, or clinical field. We investigated the quantity, quality, and nature of adverse events.

Results: The search identified 11,977 publications, of which 622 studies were included in the review. In 235 studies, only nonspecific safety statements were made (“well tolerated”); the remaining 387 studies reported the presence or absence of specific adverse events. Interventions and adverse events were poorly documented.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Occupational Highway Transportation Deaths — United States, 2003–2008

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Occupational Highway Transportation Deaths — United States, 2003–2008
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Highway transportation crashes are the leading cause of fatal injuries in the United States for both workers and the general population (1,2). Prevention of work-related highway transportation deaths, and highway transportation deaths in general, are long-standing public health priorities (1,3). To assess trends and help guide the prevention of occupational highway transportation deaths, CDC analyzed data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for 2003–2008 (2).

A total of 8,173 workers died from highway transportation incidents during 2003–2008, representing 24% of all fatal occupational injuries for the period. The annual average fatality rate for workers was 0.9 highway transportation deaths per 100,000 workers; that rate decreased an average of 2.8% annually during the period. Workers employed in the trucking industry accounted for the greatest number (2,320) and highest rate of highway transportation deaths (19.6 per 100,000 workers). Public health, highway safety, labor, and state agencies; highway designers; and transportation-related associations need to work together to implement effective interventions to reduce the risk for highway transportation deaths for all workers. Employers should adopt, communicate, and enforce safety policies designed to reduce highway transportation deaths (e.g., requiring the use of safety belts in fleet vehicles, restricting cellular telephone use while driving, and allowing for adequate travel time), and ensure these policies are followed by employees.

Interagency Working Group Seeks Input on Proposed Voluntary Principles for Marketing Food to Children

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Interagency Working Group Seeks Input on Proposed Voluntary Principles for Marketing Food to Children
Source: Federal Trade Commission

In an effort to combat childhood obesity – the most serious health crisis facing today’s youth – a working group of four federal agencies today released for public comment a set of proposed voluntary principles that can be used by industry as a guide for marketing food to children.

Led by former Sen. Sam Brownback and Sen. Tom Harkin, Congress directed the Federal Trade Commission, together with the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to establish an Interagency Working Group of federal nutrition, health, and marketing experts to develop recommendations for the nutritional quality of food marketed to children and adolescents, ages 2 to 17. The working group seeks public comment on the proposed voluntary nutrition and marketing principles it has developed. After public comment, the working group will make final recommendations in a report to Congress. This is not a proposed government regulation.

The proposed voluntary principles are designed to encourage stronger and more meaningful self-regulation by the food industry and to support parents’ efforts to get their kids to eat healthier foods. While the goals they would set for food marketers are ambitious and would take time to put into place, the public health stakes could not be higher. One in three children is overweight or obese, and the rates are even higher among some racial and ethnic groups.

+ Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children: Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts and Request for Comments (PDF)
+ Statement of the Commission Concerning the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children: Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts (April 2011) (PDF)
+ Food for Thought: Interagency Working Group Proposal on Food Marketing to Children