More test-tube babies were born in the United States in 2012 than ever
before, and they constituted a higher percentage of total births than at any time since the technology was introduced in the 1980s, according to a report released on Monday, reports Reuters.
“The annual report was from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), an organization of medical professionals.
“SART’s 379 member clinics, which represent more than 90 percent of the infertility clinics in the country, reported that in 2012 they performed 165,172 procedures involving in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which an egg from the mother-to-be or a donor is fertilized in a lab dish. They resulted in the birth of 61,740 babies.
“That was about 2,000 more IVF babies than in 2011. With about 3.9 million babies born in the United States in 2012, the IVF newborns accounted for just over 1.5 percent of the total, more than ever before.
“The growing percentage reflects, in part, the increasing average age at which women give birth for the first time, since fertility problems become more common as people age. The average age of first-time mothers is now about 26 years; it was 21.4 years in 1970.
“Although the rising number of test-tube babies suggests that the technology has become mainstream, critics of IVF point out that the numbers, particularly the success rates, mask wide disparities. Continue reading “High-tech baby boom”
The SAT is changing. Again. For the second time in just over a decade, the College Board, which administers the exam, is planning to redesign the exam, writes James Murphy in The Atlantic.
“The details of the redesign aren’t public yet, but it looks like the result will be similar to the last time: Several cosmetic changes will raise the anxiety of students and their parents but will likely fail to address the deepest problem with the test or even make it worse. This is good news for people like me, who make a living as an SAT tutor, but bad news for everybody else.
“When the redesigned SAT premiered after several years of planning in 2005, there were two major changes, one to content and another to structure. The old Math and Verbal (renamed Critical Reading) sections were joined by a Writing section, which includes an essay assignment that asks test takers to “develop a point of view on an issue,” such as, “Should we question the decisions made by figures of authority?” or “Can success be a disaster?” And, as a result of adding Writing to the test, the total length of the test increased by 25 percent, the number of sections went from seven to ten, sections were shortened, and the number of questions in the Math and Reading Sections went down, making each question more valuable as a percentage of the available points while increasing the fatigue factor on the exam, as College Board’s own researchers acknowledged.
“The essay has provoked many criticisms (here, here, and here), but the loudest critic of the essay these days is David Coleman, the president of the College Board, which administers the SAT. Coleman was the lead architect of the Common Core State Standards, which now shape the English Language Arts and Math curriculums in public primary and secondary schools in 45 states. He’s been praised by Arne Duncan, Bill Clinton, Time magazine, and others as a champion of academic reform. He has now turned his attention to fixing the essay section of the SAT. Continue reading “Again changing the SAT writing exam”
With a 20.9 composite average, the 2013 ACT scores are the lowest they’ve been in five years, with the biggest drops occurring in the English and reading sections, reports InsideHigher Ed.
“The high school class of 2013’s composite average is down 0.2 points from 21.1 last year, and English and reading scores (averaging 20.2 and 21.1) are down 0.3 and 0.2 points, respectively.
“The diversity of students in the pool continues to grow, which is a good thing. The aspirations of those students continues to rise, which is a good thing,” ACT President Jon Erickson said. “But the performance of the students still leaves something to be desired.”
“More students are taking the exam — some of whom are required by schools to do so but have no collegiate aspirations — which accounts in part for the lower scores, Erickson said. ACT also made some logistical changes this year: updating the reading and science benchmarks, and including scores of students who were accommodated with extra time.“I’m kind of looking at this as a new normal,” he said, “a new baseline.”
“The score decline in composite average as well as for each individual benchmark — English, reading, mathematics and science – was steeper among students who did not complete a high school core curriculum comprising four years of English and three years of each other benchmark subject. Twenty-six percent of tested students – one percentage point higher than last year – met all four subject benchmarks, which indicate a 50 percent chance of making a B grade or 75 percent chance of a C grade in corresponding college courses. The majority of students (64 percent) met the English benchmark, while 44 percent met reading and/or math benchmarks and 36 percent made it in science.”
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/08/21/act-scores-fall-lowest-level-five-years#ixzz2clvatvAm
Inside Higher Ed