Education

Scholarly Citings

November 20, 2002 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

While experts worry that schools are “teaching to the test” on some high- pressure state exams, a pair of economists have suggested yet another way schools can boost scores: by “feeding to the test.”

The full study, “Food for Thought: The Effects of School Accountability Plans on School Nutrition,” is available from the National Bureau of Economic Research. A summary of the report has also been posted. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Researchers David N. Figlio and Joshua Winicki took a look at elementary school lunch menus in 23 randomly chosen districts across Virginia, where schools face penalties if most of their students continue to fail state Standards of Learning tests.

The researchers found that, on state test days, districts with schools under threat of penalties served higher-calorie lunches than those in districts where no schools faced such pressure. The average difference came to 140 calories.

“This is on a base of 800 calories, so it’s substantial,” said Mr. Figlio, an economist at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. “There’s a substantial literature on how calories affect short- term cognitive performance.”

The researchers also compared the test-day lunch menus with menus at the same schools for nontest periods and found no similar spurts in caloric content.

Mr. Figlio and Mr. Winicki suspect that the schools facing the most pressure to succeed may have been innocuously “gaming the system” by adding mostly empty calories to their lunch menus.

If that was the plan, the study suggests it may have worked. The authors found a statistically significant increase in the resulting mathematics scores for the schools that packed in the calories. For other subjects tested, the link was positive but not significant.

Testing experts consulted last week said they were skeptical of the findings, however. And even the authors urged caution, because the number of threatened schools in the study sample was small.

What’s more, it’s still unclear whether students actually took the tests before or after eating the calorie-laden lunches.

—Debra Viadero

A version of this article appeared in the November 20, 2002 edition of Education Week as Scholarly Citings

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Senators Put YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat on the Defensive on Kids' Online Safety
Senators questioned executives from YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat about what they’re doing to ensure young users’ safety on their platforms.
5 min read
The Youtube, left, and Snapchat apps on a mobile device in New York, on Aug. 9, 2017. The leaders of a Senate panel have called executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat to face questions on what the companies are doing to ensure young users’ safety. The hearing Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, comes as the panel bears down on hugely popular social media platforms and their impact on children.
The Youtube, left, and Snapchat apps on a mobile device in New York, on Aug. 9, 2017. The leaders of a Senate panel have called executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat to face questions on what the companies are doing to ensure young users’ safety. The hearing Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, comes as the panel bears down on hugely popular social media platforms and their impact on children.
Richard Drew/AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 27, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Vulnerable Students Left Behind as Schooling Disruptions Continue
The effects of unpredictable stretches at home can mirror those of chronic absenteeism and lead to long-term harm to learning.
4 min read
Students board a school bus on New York's Upper West Side on Sept. 13, 2021. Even as most students return to learning in the classroom this school year, disruptions to in-person learning, from missing one day because of a late school bus to an entire two weeks at home due to quarantine, remain inevitable as families and educators navigate the ongoing pandemic.
Students board a school bus on New York's Upper West Side on Sept. 13, 2021. Even as most students return to learning in the classroom this school year, disruptions to in-person learning, from missing one day because of a late school bus to an entire two weeks at home due to quarantine, remain inevitable as families and educators navigate the ongoing pandemic.
Richard Drew/AP
Education 'Widespread' Racial Harassment Found at Utah School District
The federal probe found hundreds of documented uses of the N-word and other racial epithets, and harsher discipline for students of color.
1 min read
A CNG, compressed natural gas, school bus is shown at the Utah State Capitol, Monday, March 4, 2013, in Salt Lake City. After a winter with back-to back episodes of severe pollution in northern Utah, lawmakers and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will discuss clean air legislation and call for government and businesses to convert to clean fuel vehicles.
Federal civil rights investigators found widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian American students in the Davis school district north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP Photo