Research and Reports
During the last two decades, programs in the closely related areas of moral, civic, ethics, and values education have been added to the curricula of many high schools. To help school administrators assess the effectiveness of such programs, two researchers have produced Program Evaluation in Moral Education.
Hugh F. Kline and Robert A. Feldmesser, authors of this handbook for program evaluation, write that today, everything from justifying the budget request for such a program to improving it makes evaluation a necessity. But evaluation of these particular types of educational programs, the authors say, carries with it "special difficulties," (such as measuring whether students are "more moral" after they've gone through a program, and making sure all the parties involved in the evaluation agree on its goals).
Mr. Kline and Mr. Feldmesser de-fine moral education as "deliberate efforts, within a school setting, to increase students' abilities to consider the potential impact of their behavior on the well-being of others." And they recommend an "eclectic" approach to evaluating moral education.
"Given the complexities of moral education," the authors write, a single evaluation method with a narrow focus won't work. "Small amounts of data from each of many different methods will be a more reliable basis for judgment, and a more convincing basis for action, than a large amount collected by one or a few procedures."
Program Evaluation in Moral Education also outlines four common types of moral-education programs and offers prototypes of such programs in various school settings.
Concerned about the minimal use of seat belts by teen-age drivers, the Vermont department of education conducted a study to determine how educators can influence the behavior of young drivers.
The department ran a test on seat-belt usage in five high schools as part of its driver-education services to the schools. A sixth school was involved in the test but did not receive safety instruction.
At one of the five schools, state officials used the "convincer," a car seat mounted on a short, downhill slide. A ride down the slide produces the sensation of crashing into a guard railing, the officials said. Students who took the ride wore seat belts and were not harmed by the experience, the officials noted.
According to John Harvey, driver and safety consultant for the state department of education, the use of seat belts increased by 175 percent at the one school where the experimental device was used.
In addition to demonstrating the effectiveness of the convincer, Mr. Harvey said the study showed that educators can influence young drivers to take available safety precautions. In a 1982 survey, state officials found that 11 percent of Vermont's students--more than twice the national average--wore seat belts.
The House Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary and Vocational Education has approved a bill that would provide an additional $105 million for child-nutrition programs in fiscal 1984 and $160 million in fiscal 1985.
The move followed a hearing last month at which a panel of nutritionists and education officials urged the subcommittee to restore $150 million to the programs, which include the federal school-lunch program.
The bill approved by the subcommittee allotted $103 million for 1984 to the entitlement programs--including the lunch program. The funding would go toward lowering the cost of a reduced-price lunch from its current level of 40 cents to 25 cents and the cost of a reduced-price breakfast from 30 cents to 15 cents. It would also change the level below which families are eligible for the program from the current 185 percent of the poverty level to 195 percent.
That shift was strongly supported by nutritionists, who argue that children in that eligibility category have dropped out of the program in the greatest numbers.
In addition, the measure would increase by six cents the federal reimbursement for each school breakfast served, and would increase funding for the Nutrition Education and Training Program by $2.5 million.
A similar measure has been introduced in the Senate, but no action has been taken on it.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Summit Conference on Education Act by voice vote last week, despite a memo from the Administration advising Representatives not to approve the bill.
"The measure before us today," Representative Carl D. Perkins, Democrat of Kentucky, told House members, "represents the first step at the national level toward improving the quality of education in this country."
If made law, the legislation will bring together a bipartisan group of 200 participants, representing educators, parents, state legislators, governors, students, business, labor, women, minorities, and handicapped persons, to discuss implementation of programs to improve the quality of education in the United States, the lawmaker said.
A memo from the Office of Management and Budget, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Education Department, advised House members against passing the summit act because it duplicates a meeting planned by Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell.
The bill makes a reference to the Education Department's cooperation, stating: "Any conference established by the Department of Education should be complementary to the National Summit Conference on Education."
A similar bill is awaiting action in the Senate.
The U.S. Justice Department's civil-rights division will dispatch two lawyers "fairly soon" to gather information on a number of school districts in Mississippi to determine whether they "are in compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as it pertains to student assignments," a Justice Department spokesman said last week.
The department will begin the investigation at the request of the Mississippi National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The spokesman declined to give the precise date that the investigation would begin, but naacp officials said they would hold a news conference on Oct. 17 announcing the beginning of the investigation.
The naacp has been collecting information on school districts' tracking and placement practices, according to Morris Kinsey, chairman of the association's education committee. The group alleges that disproportionately high numbers of black children are placed in special-education classes, and disproportionately low numbers of black children are placed in classes for gifted and talented students.