Kids Like Learning TM

Irene J. Hartzell, PhD – Educational Consultant

Get Inspired

Build A Future

In 1975 the Oregon State Legislature Committee on Education proposed Senate Bill 831 to outlaw corporal punishment in the Oregon Public Schools. I was honored to present expert testimony on behalf of that legislation, which was not enacted until 1989. *(American Psychological Association) (PDF of testimony)


Typically students who do well socially and academically don’t wind up in the assistant principal’s office for disciplinary action. Misbehavior, in its many forms, is a learned deviant behavior pattern. Evidence  indicates that failure can contribute to students’ misbehavior. Which, in its many forms, is a learned deviant behavior pattern. Corporal punishment Is neither an effective deterrent against acting out, nor a remedy for school failure.

In the intervening years, 31 states including Oregon have passed legislation banning corporal punishment in their public schools. Nineteen states still permit corporal punishment. Most of the 19  states that still allow corporal punishment use it rarely, but some states like Texas and Alabama employ it often and severely. (a case in point)


With everyday life becoming increasingly hectic and stressful the negative impact on parenting isn’t  unexpected. The recent (April 7, 2016) Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor “Journal of Family Psychology” article “Spanking and Child Outcomes: Old Controversies and New Meta-Analyses” has re-ignited interest in the effects of spanking. Their analysis of 70 research studies conducted over 50 years concluded that spanking put children at risk for aggression, anti-social behavior, mental-health problems, negative parent-child relationships, impaired cognitive ability, low self-esteem and risk of parental physical abuse.

Hello: Every Student Succeeds Act, 
Goodbye: No Child Left Behind Act

This change means that as of January 2016 the federal government has returned control over U.S. public education to state and local school districts. We look forward to the possibility of major improvements in Washington State now that we have funding control and can set our own standards again.

Why did No Child Left Behind need replacement?

Since 2001 the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) required all United States public schools receiving federal funding to administer yearly statewide standardized achievement testing in basic skills. States were also required to develop measurable Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets for special education students, students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency.

The overall goal was to have all students at or above the proficient level within 12 years, or by the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Any school that missed its AYP target for four consecutive years would require “corrective actions” such as replacing the entire staff, introducing a new curriculum or extending class time for students. A fifth consecutive year of failure would require complete restructuring, such as closing the school, turning the school into a charter school, having a private company run the school or having the state office of education assume control.

The Act required states to provide “highly qualified” teachers to all students with each state setting the criteria for those standards. Each state was to set and define “one high, challenging standard” for all of its students.

Supporters of NCLB claimed the act resulted in increased accountability required of schools and teachers. Students’ reading and math skills would be assessed yearly in grades 3-8. Students in schools that failed to meet AYP for two consecutive years would be eligible to transfer to higher-performing schools.

Under NCLB schools determined to be under-performing, i.e. not meeting AYP for two years – were required to set aside some federal dollars to offer some students the opportunity to switch to higher performing schools and receive outside tutoring.

Consequences for Washington State Public Education

In 2014 Washington State became the first state to lose its waiver from NCLB because the state legislature refused to allow schools to rate teachers based in part on student test scores.  Instead the Legislature decided to let districts choose whether to use the scores.

That decision caused Washington State school districts to lose control over  a share of the $40 million in federal funding set aside to cover the costs of students who requested busing to higher-performing schools or sought outside tutoring. As a result over 1,900 of the state’s approx. 2,200 public schools were labeled as failing under the NCLB requirements.

In 2015 over 25% of WA State high school 11th grade students refused (Opted-Out) to take the Smarter Balanced English/language arts exam. It is unclear what will happen in 2016.

What changes can Washington State parents expect from Every Student Succeeds?

This Act returns significant control over public education to the states. It will restore the flexibility Washington and other states had with respect to judging school performance, within some minimum federal rules.

Students will still be required to take yearly standardized reading and math achievement tests in grades 3 – 8 and once during high school, as well as a science test three times within K-12.  States will also be required to use students’ test scores on these tests, as well as graduation rates to evaluate schools. One difference is that states can now choose how much weight to place on test scores and decide what other factors to consider. States will now be responsible for improving schools and closing achievement gaps.

The new law will continue federal grants to help states and improve low-performing schools, but school districts will decide how to use those funds. The federal Dept. of Education will continue to monitor and oversee the academic progress of minority, disabled and economically disadvantaged students.

What’s Happening with Seattle Public Schools?


The national spotlight was on the Seattle Public Schools November 18, 2015 when the School Board voted to start high school at 8:30 am or later, following the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Seattle is one of the largest districts in the country to make the decision to start school an hour later than previously. This successful campaign began about four years ago.

Beginning in fall of 2016 all the Seattle district’s high schools and all but one middle school will be in session from 8:45 am until 3:15 pm.   These later start times will better match the teen’s biological clocks.

Most elementary and K-8 school day schedules will start one hour earlier than now.

These later high school and middle school start times were made possible because parents and the school board were willing to follow the recommendations of sleep scientists and make the needs of the students a priority.

Dr. Maida Chen, Director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Clinic at Seattle Children’s Hospital enlisted the prestigious expertise of Dr. Judith Owens, Director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders. Dr. Chen, Dr. Owens, together with over 30 local Seattle sleep doctors and Dr. Nathaniel Watson, UW Neurology Professor, Director of the Harborview Medical Center Sleep Clinic and President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine succeeded in persuading the Seattle School Board to “do the right thing in the interest of student health, safety and well-being.”

As noted in blog #1, in adolescence teenagers become biological night owls who are more alert later in the day and have difficulty falling asleep at night. Later school start times improve their health, mood, attendance and in some cases, learning.

Other nearby Puget Sound area school districts such as Bellevue, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Mercer Island and Northshore are also considering changing to later start times for their teen students. The Bellevue District has already committed to starting later, with 8:30 am as an eventual start time goal.

It will be interesting to see if this program produces the desired results.

A teen’s internal clock differs from that of children and adults  when it comes to sleep. Puberty affects their sleep cycles by delaying the time they start feeling sleepy and awaken. They need around nine hours of sleep, but due to the interference of various factors they rarely sleep that long. Interference arises from homework, extracurricular and social activities, after school jobs and electronic technology like computers, tablets, smart phones, etc.

As a result tired, sleep deprived teens aren’t alert in class and find it difficult to concentrate. Research has demonstrated that sleep plays a critical role in memory consolidation and our ability to generate innovative solutions to complex problems.

Sleep deprivation also increases the level of cortisol, the stress hormone. A tired adolescent may be grumpy, moody, insensitive, angry and impulsive.

Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics made a national recommendation that middle and high schools delay start times to combat teen sleep deprivation. After months of discussion and planning meetings four Seattle area school districts: Seattle, Bellevue, Northshore and Mercer Island have committed to revising the start times for middle and high schools to start beginning in 2016. The districts are working out the details of implementation. It will be interesting to see how the students respond to these changes.