The Disturbing Link Between ADHD and Conservative Education Reform

If your child has been prescribed medication for ADHD, consider this...

The CDC now estimates that 12 percent of school age kids, and as many as 20 percent of teenage boys have been diagnosed with ADHD.

The ADHD Explosion,“ by Stephen Hinshaw and Richard Scheffler, considers all kinds of factors that may contribute to the surge,...

Hinshaw and Sheffler found that when rates of ADHD diagnoses are broken down by state, it turns out that there are dramatic discrepancies.

What the team found was that high rates of ADHD diagnoses correlated closely with state laws that penalize schools when students fail. Nationally, this approach to education was enacted into law in 2001 with No Child Left Behind, which makes funding contingent on the number of students who pass standardized tests.

... many states passed these accountability laws as early as the 1980s, and within a few years of passage, ADHD diagnoses started going up in those states, the authors found, especially for kids near the poverty line.

ADHD diagnoses of public school students within 200 percent of the federal poverty level jumped 59 percent after accountability legislation passed, Hinshaw reports, compared with less than 10 percent for middle- and high-income children. They saw no comparable trend in private schools, which are not subject to legislation like this.

... in many areas, the test scores of student with ADHD diagnoses aren’t counted. So even it if it doesn’t help the child, it might help the school.

This correlation between accountability laws and ADHD diagnosis is just that — a correlation. “But it’s close to a smoking gun for us,” Hinshaw notes. And it demonstrates how important it is to start looking seriously at economic and social pressures that might be shaping this wave of diagnoses, influencing what happens when a parent and child are sitting in the pediatrician’s office, where most ADHD medications are prescribed. [emphasis mine]

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Tags: ADHD, No Child Left Behind

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