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Congress takes up student-athlete concussions

Doctors are warning Congress of the risk of altered lives and permanent brain damage if student-athletes aren’t properly protected from head trauma.

Lawmakers at a House hearing also heard Thursday from an NFL player who recently retired because of post-concussion troubles; a mother whose son, a college football player with brain damage, committed suicide; and a high school girl unable to keep up with her classes since suffering a concussion on the soccer field.

Democratic Rep. George Miller of California cited estimates of 300,000 sports-related concussions a year. He said the number is far higher if recreational and playground injuries are included. Mr. Miller says many concussions go unreported, partly because athletes want to stay on the field.


Department offers grants for teacher merit pay

The federal Education Department is giving school districts and nonprofit organizations across the country $442 million to create merit pay programs for teachers and principals.

The “Teacher Incentive Fund” is aimed at attracting and rewarding quality educators and encouraging them to work in the country’s most troubled schools. The programs will create performance pay systems based on evaluations of educators, among other incentives.

Winners include school districts such as Wake County, N.C., and the New York City Department of Education. State education departments in Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio and Louisiana also won grants, as did private companies such as Uplift Education, which has five charter schools in Texas.

But the effectiveness of merit pay has come into question after a study from Vanderbilt University’s National Center on Performance Incentives this week found that offering bonuses to teachers didn’t improve test scores.