Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Promiscuous sex not good for student grades

There is good news for parents who worry that their teenagers’ sex lives are affecting their school performance: A provocative study has found that teens in committed relationships do no better or worse in school than those who do not have sex.

The same is not true for teens who hook up. Researchers found that those who have casual flings get lower grades and have more school-related problems compared with those who abstain.

The findings, presented yesterday at a meeting of the American Sociological Association in Atlanta, challenge to some extent assumptions that sexually active teens tend to do less well in school.

It is not so much whether a teen has sex that determines academic success, the researchers say, but the type of sexual relationship he or she is engaged in. Teens in serious relationships may find social and emotional support in their sex partners, reducing their anxiety and stress levels in life and in school.

“This should give some comfort to parents who may be concerned that their teenage son or daughter is dating,’’ said sociologist Peggy Giordano of Bowling Green State University, who had no role in the research. Teen sex is “not going to derail their educational trajectories,’’ she said.

Last year, nearly half of high school students reported having had sexual intercourse, and 14 percent have had four or more partners, according to a federal survey released this summer.

For the study, sociologist Bill McCarthy of the University of California, Davis, and University of Minnesota sociologist Eric Grodsky analyzed surveys and transcripts from the largest national follow-up study of teens that began during the 1994-95 academic year. The researchers said not much has changed in the past decade in terms of attitudes toward teen sex.


Back to School? Bring Your Own Toilet Paper

Big bureaucracy to support. Kids and parents come second to clerks and "administrators"

When Emily Cooper headed off to first grade in Moody, Ala., last week, she was prepared with all the stuff on her elementary school's must-bring list: two double rolls of paper towels, three packages of Clorox wipes, three boxes of baby wipes, two boxes of garbage bags, liquid soap, Kleenex and Ziplocs.

"The first time I saw it, my mouth hit the floor," Emily's mother, Kristin Cooper, said of the list, which also included perennials like glue sticks, scissors and crayons. Schools across the country are beginning the new school year with shrinking budgets and outsize demands for basic supplies. And while many parents are wincing at picking up the bill, retailers are rushing to cash in by expanding the back-to-school category like never before.

Now some back-to-school aisles are almost becoming janitorial-supply destinations as multipacks of paper towels, cleaning spray and hand sanitizer are crammed alongside pens, notepads and backpacks...


University crackdown on British High School exam resits

What a mess British university entrance is!

Leading universities are introducing rules to regulate A-level resits as record numbers of teenagers rejected from degree courses prepare to take exams again. Many institutions are imposing “bans” on resits for some courses or demanding that students who take tests a second time score higher marks.

Just days before the publication of A-level results, Cambridge said new grades obtained after re-taking an entire year would only be considered in “compelling mitigating circumstances”. Oxford said students had to make a “very compelling case” to explain why they failed to perform to the required standard first time.

Others including Birmingham, Edinburgh, Lancaster, Surrey and University College London said students may need to achieve better grades than the standard entry level in some subjects when exams are taken a second time.

A spokesman for Leeds said: “In some cases we look for better grades from those students who are taking re-sits to reflect the fact that these students are usually taking only one or two exams, compared with their peers who are sitting three or four full A-levels at once.”

The disclosure comes amid a rise in the number of people expected to re-sit their A-levels this year after missing out on preferred university places.

Yesterday, the Council for Independent Education, which represents many colleges specialising in A-level resit courses, said the number of website enquiries were up by two-thirds compared with last year.

More students are expected to miss out on their preferred university place after applications soared by 12 per cent as more teenagers push for higher education in the recession. An extra 68,000 students are competing for places, figures show, with demand swelled by some 57,000 people reapplying after failing to win university places last year.

It is believed between 30 and 50 per cent of pupils re-take some papers. But as competition for degree places grow, some universities are now devising policies to regulate re-takes.

Birmingham said that – for most subjects – it was happy to make offers to candidates re-sitting A-levels but they “may occasionally be one grade higher” than the standard offer. Some subjects including law, dentistry and medicine would not consider candidates taking resits, the university said.

Sheffield said full A-level resits were not accepted in medicine degrees, while UCL insisted that students taking law or medicine needed to “achieve the grade requirements in one sitting”.

Edinburgh said resits for medicine and veterinary medicine were only considered in special circumstances and in other subjects offers will be “above the minimum stated entry requirements.”

Reading said it accepted resits but would “prefer students to have taken exams together, to demonstrate their ability to cope with a reasonable workload in one go”.

Schools warned universities against imposing new rules on resits. Geoff Lucas, secretary of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents top independent schools, said: “In the past, this practice was quite sporadic but this evidence suggests it is becoming more systematic. "If universities are going to set new requirements there should be a lead time of at least the two year duration of an A level course."

James Wardrobe, from the Council for Independent Further Education, said: “The advice that I would strongly give to any student thinking of re-taking A-levels is that they ring up specific admissions departments and ask what their policy is on re-takes.”


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