To the possible unintended consequences of standardized school testing, add another: a rise in the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.
A new book, "The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money and Today's Push for Performance," suggests that the increased use of ADHD drugs correlates with a rise in standardized testing. One possible explanation is that, as schools come under pressure to raise their test scores, administrators feel motivated to suggest that parents have their children tested, and medicated, for ADHD.
From a review in the Los Angeles Times:
The authors of the new book — psychology professor Stephen P. Hinshaw and health economist Richard M. Scheffler, both of UC Berkeley, are hardly ADHD deniers: They acknowledge ADHD to be a disorder that can hobble the lives of those who have it, and they cite abundant evidence that the prescription stimulant medication used to tame ADHD's symptoms can bring about remarkable improvement in those with the disorder. ...
But the line that separates the merely scattered and energetic child from one who fits the disorder's full clinical criteria is not sharp. And Hinshaw and Scheffler argue that our shifting expectations of our kids' (and our own) economic and academic performance have tilted the balance in favor of diagnosing an underachieving child and of medicating him or her with the stimulant drugs used to blunt the disorder's symptoms.
Hinshaw and a specialist in childhood neurology join The Daily Circuit to discuss the book and the theories it offers.