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Educators are ignoring studies from a variety of disciplines that all point to the need for different instructional approaches to counter the chronic underachievement of minorities and women in science and technology, argues a new report.

Many experimental programs that adapt instruction to students' individual needs have proven successful in teaching the skills needed for technological literacy, according to the report, which was commissioned by the National Research Council's committee on research in mathematics, science, and technology education. But they go unnoticed, it says.

"The most surprising thing about this report is how many successful innovations from the past have been neglected in our search for a better mousetrap," said Michael Cole, a researcher at the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at San Diego State University and co-editor of the report.

The report is critical of the time-on-task approach to teaching and recommends ways to tailor the context of lessons to make them more meaningful for students.

More than 30 researchers--specialists in psychology, sociology, linguistics, anthropology, and education--collaborated on the report, which was published jointly by the National Research Council and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Copies of "Contextual Factors in Education: Improving Science and Mathematics Education for Minorities and Women" may be obtained for $5 each by writing: wcer, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1025 West Johnson St., Madison, Wis. 53706, or calling: (608) 263-4200.

The University of California at Los Angeles's center for research on evaluation, standards, and student testing has begun a joint project with the rand Corporation aimed at assessing the impact of school-reform policies on educational quality.

Funded by a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Education Department's office of educational research and improvement, the 18-month project will also develop instruments to measure the effect of reforms.

"We want to build connections between the events in schools and policies made by legislators and policymakers," said Eva L. Baker, the principal investigator for the project and director of ucla's center for the study of evaluation, which operates the federally funded center.

"Promising" approaches for dealing with female students who are likely to become school dropouts are catalogued in a new report from the National Association of State Boards of Education.

The report, "What's Promising: New Approaches to Dropout Prevention for Girls," contains recommendations for school officials on how to structure instructional and extracurricular activities, examples of model programs, and listings of state and local initiatives already under way.

Copies may be obtained for $6 each from: Youth Services Program, National Association of State Boards of Education, 701 North Fairfax St., Suite 340, Alexandria, Va. 22314.

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