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Report calls for wide classroom-based adoption of ten brain fitness programs designed to improve foundational executive functions

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Nation­al Non­prof­it Releas­es Report Call­ing for Brain Fit­ness Inter­ven­tions in All U.S. Schools (press release):

Brain­Fu­tures released a report today that makes a clear case for inte­grat­ing proven brain fit­ness pro­grams into all U.S. class­rooms. Over a decade of research has shown that evi­dence-based pro­grams can improve stu­dents’ exec­u­tive func­tion skills and proso­cial behav­iors, which are more accu­rate pre­dic­tors of aca­d­e­m­ic readi­ness and life suc­cess than IQ or any oth­er per­for­mance mark­ers.

Brain Fit­ness and Exec­u­tive Func­tion: Evi­dence-Based Inter­ven­tions That Improve Stu­dent Out­comes details the impor­tance of foun­da­tion­al exec­u­tive func­tion skills — work­ing mem­o­ry, inhibito­ry con­trol, and cog­ni­tive flex­i­bil­i­ty — on aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance and how class­room pro­grams can help improve those skills. These skills are inex­tri­ca­bly linked to social emo­tion­al learn­ing (SEL).”

About the Report:

Of imme­di­ate use to edu­ca­tors and school lead­ers, the report presents a vet­ted set of brain fit­ness pro­grams that meet the evi­dence-based stan­dards of the fed­er­al Every Stu­dent Suc­ceeds Act (ESSA). The report high­lights class­room inter­ven­tions specif­i­cal­ly because they allow all stu­dents to engage in the pro­gram togeth­er with­out stig­ma­tiz­ing those with the great­est deficits.

The report ana­lyzed brain fit­ness inter­ven­tions already being used in schools, includ­ing cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams, mind­ful­ness tools, and exec­u­tive func­tion skills cur­ric­u­la. Those pro­grams have yield­ed proven out­comes for stu­dents, includ­ing:

  • Increas­es in pro­fi­cien­cy on state-man­dat­ed stan­dard­ized tests and school-admin­is­tered tests
  • Reduc­tions in dis­rup­tive school behav­iors
  • Increas­es in proso­cial behav­iors

The Call to Action: all schools should adopt brain fit­ness pro­grams and ensure that exec­u­tive func­tion train­ing is a stan­dard com­po­nent of teacher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams.

–> Down­load the full report HERE (opens PDF)

About the ten vetted brain fitness programs:

The report reviewed more than 40 exec­u­tive func­tions skills (EF) pro­grams. Of these, 10 met the rig­or­ous cri­te­ria estab­lished by the advi­so­ry group. Here are the ten, ordered alpha­bet­i­cal­ly, and indi­cat­ing dura­tion and sug­gest­ed fre­quen­cy of use:

  • Acti­vate: 10 hours plus 5 hours of exer­cise breaks across 10 weeks: 20 min. per day, 3 days per week plus 5‑min. exer­cise breaks twice a day
  • Cogmed Work­ing Mem­o­ry Train­ing: 21 hours across 5 to 13 weeks: five 50-min. ses­sions per week for 5 weeks can be spread out across up to 13 weeks
  • Fast For­Word: 150 min. per week until desired lev­els are com­plete
  • Inner Explor­er: 50 min. per week rec­om­mend­ed: 10 min. dai­ly
  • Mas­ter Mind: 6 hours and 15 min. total: 15 min. dai­ly for 5 weeks
  • Mind­ful­ness in Schools Project: Grades 2–6: six hours total: Can be taught as six 1‑hour lessons or twelve 30-min. lessons. Grades 6–8: eight-nine hours total: nine lessons for 40–60 min. each
  • MindUP: One 45 min. les­son per week plus Brain Breaks 3 times a day (25 min. each)
  • PATH to read­ing: 5 hours 20 min­utes total: 64 5‑min. ses­sions, either 1 ses­sion dai­ly (5 min) or 2 ses­sions every oth­er day at start of the school day
  • SMART: 8.5 hours total: ten ses­sions imple­ment­ed in two or three 45–50 min. ses­sions per week for four weeks
  • Tools of the mind: Cur­ricu­lum is used every day through­out the day

In addi­tion to the 10 pro­grams that passed all cri­te­ria, 19 pro­grams had promis­ing results and are pro­filed in Appen­dix 3.

The Report in Context:

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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