August 01, 1998 3 min read

First Grade Fallout: A disorderly 1st grade classroom may be a breeding ground for middle school troublemakers. So concluded Sheppard Kellam and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University after following 680 Baltimore children who entered 1st grade in 1985. Half the pupils were in disruptive classrooms where teachers were unable to maintain order. The rest were randomly assigned to more orderly classrooms in which teachers used a behavior-management strategy known as the “Good Behavior Game.”

The system, developed in the 1960s, uses peer pressure and rewards to coax children to cooperate. The two cohorts of children were grouped in this manner for two years. Afterward, the students were assigned classrooms just like other children.

The researchers checked back in on the kids when they reached the 6th grade to see how disruptive children from either kind of 1st grade classroom were faring. They found that disruptive boys from the poorly managed 1st grade classrooms were more likely to continue acting up in middle school tha

The Wrong Track?: Nearly three out of four U.S. elementary schools use a transitional or developmental 1st grade classroom to give immature kindergartners an extra year before placing them in a regular 1st grade setting. But a study published recently in the Journal of Educational Psychology suggests that the decision to place children in such a setting often depends on more than their skill or maturity levels. A complex web of other forces, such as their teachers’ years of experience and teaching styles, also plays a role.

Panayota Mantzicopoulos, an associate professor of educational psychology at Purdue University, and Stacey Neuharth-Pritchett, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia at Athens, studied 223 kindergartners from two schools in a suburban Midwestern district, 50 of whom were later assigned to a transitional 1st grade program. As might be expected, those children were an average of three months younger than their classmates, scored lower on developmental tests, and were less confident of

Heart Of The Matter: Health screenings that could detect the risk of sudden cardiac death in student athletes either don’t exist or aren’t detailed enough in many states, concludes a study published this summer in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, two physicians--David Glover of St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and Barry Maron of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation--surveyed directors of high school athletic associations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They determined that health questionnaires, which most schools require students to complete before participating in sports, are often inadequate for detecting heart problems. And the school employees who sign off on student health forms, the article says, range widely in position and levels of expertise. The Kansas City-based National Federation of State High School Associations, an umbrella organization for athletic-governing bodies, recommends that schools require students to have a detailed health scree Heart Association. These included questions on family history of heart disease and personal history of heart murmur, hypertension, excessive fatigue, fainting, or chest pain. Seventeen states, the article says, had questionnaires with at least nine of the 13 recommendations. But questions deemed essential for detecting abnormalities were missing from more than half the state forms. “Physical-examination forms often demonstrated limitations that could reduce the chances for detecting or suspecting cardiovascular disease during the screening process,” the authors write.

--Debra Viadero and Kerry A. White