Saturday, July 19, 2008

Nutritional Transparency

There is mounting evidence that early childhood nutrition has a much to do with test scores as anything parents or teachers teach. This study, The Impact of Nutrition during Early Childhood on Education among Guatemalan Adults explains some recent findings.
Our results indicate significantly positive, and fairly substantial, effects of the nutritional
intervention a quarter century later. These include: increased grade attainment by women via increased likelihood of completion of primary school and some secondary school; speedier grade progression by women; higher scores on reading comprehension tests for both men and women; and higher scores on nonverbal cognitive tests for both men and women. Thus we provide solid evidence that at least one type of preschool intervention—improved nutrition—conveys longterm benefits that do not fade away over time in a developing country context. The results suggest that anti-poverty interventions that include improving the nutrition of preschool children
may have more substantial and persistent effects than are commonly recognized. Further, the evidence that early nutrition has an effect on subsequent educational attainments underscores the value of a lifecycle approach to schooling that includes the preschool period (Cunha et al. 2005).

Rather than spending money on more standardized tests we should insist early childhood nutrition programs that ensure sound minds and bodies and we need to insist on transparency in school meal programs so that students all use the cafeteria in exactly the same manner without obvious class differences.

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