State News Roundup
Participants in Massachusetts' Employment and Training program spend less time on welfare, are more often employed, and earn better wages than their peers not in the program, according to a new study.
The program, launched in 1983, provides basic education, job training, child care, and other services to help participants become self-sufficient. The evaluation of the program released by the Washington-based Urban Institute focused on the program's operations in 1987.
The authors found that in 1986 and the first six months of 1987, program participants received Aid to Families with Dependent Children for an average of 10 months, four months shorter on average than members of a control group.
They also found that the average monthly a.f.d.c. grant for participants was about 8 percent, or $26, lower in the last six months of 1987.
In addition, the study showed that 6 to 30 months after joining the program, 44 percent of participants were employed, compared with 36 percent of those not in the program.
Participants also had average earnings that were 32 percent higher over the first six months of 1988 than were those of members of the control group.
The researchers found, however, that the program had no "statistically significant effect on the rate at which former recipients return to welfare," a finding they said might have been different had the follow-up period been longer.
The study noted that remedial-education activities appeared to extend participants' welfare stays in the short run. However, the study data indicate that those who found jobs after participating in such activities tended to remain employed longer than nonparticipants.
The study's relatively positive rating of the program runs counter to a study published last spring by the Boston-based Pioneer Institute for Public-Policy Research, which concluded that many participants in the program during the 1980's would have found jobs even without the program's assistance.
Georgia's standardized tests for public-school students should be shortened and broadened beyond basic skills into more advanced and varied subjects, an 18-month study has concluded.
The changes called for would give a broader, truer picture of school performance while allowing students to spend fewer hours each year taking standardized tests, say members of the task force that conducted the study.
The task-force plan calls for ending the requirement that students pass a skills test to enter 4th grade. Shorter national reading and mathematics tests would replace lengthy norm-referenced tests, and new state tests would cover a host of subjects, including science, social studies, math, and health.
The proposals are scheduled to go before the state board of education next month for approval. Because existing examinations were legislated, a change would require new laws, which could slow implementation, said Stan Bernknopf, director of the division of assessment at the state education department.
If approved, new testing procedures would begin next school year, Mr. Bernknopf said.