Public school accountability requirements initiated by the No Child Left Behind Act are associated with significant increases in diagnoses of ADHD among poorer children, reported a study in Psychiatric Services in Advance. Conversely, where states have legally restricted uses of psychotropic medications, ADHD diagnoses have dropped.
University of California, Berkeley-led researchers analyzed data on public school children aged 6 to 13 from the National Survey of Children’s Health between 2003 and 2011.
“From 2003 to 2007, public school children from low-income households residing in states first experiencing consequential accountability under NCLB (No Child Left Behind) showed an increase in adjusted ADHD diagnostic prevalence of 56% compared with an increase of 19% of demographically similar children residing in states that had consequential accountability prior to NCLB,” reported Psychiatric News. Other studies have identified similar trends.
In contrast, reported Psychiatric News, “From 2003 to 2011, states with psychotropic drug-monitoring laws saw ADHD diagnostic prevalence decrease by 4% in contrast to the 23% increase in states without such laws.”
“Future research should investigate whether children most affected by these policies are receiving appropriate diagnoses,” commented the researchers.
Fulton, Brent D., Richard M. Scheffler, and Stephen P. Hinshaw. “State Variation in Increased ADHD Prevalence: Links to NCLB School Accountability and State Medication Laws.” Psychiatric Services, June 1, 2015, appi.ps.201400145. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201400145. (Abstract)
Study Tracks How State Education-Related Policies Affect ADHD Diagnoses (Psychiatric News Alert, June 4, 2015)