Column One: Research
A new analysis of a massive federal survey confirms that minority students are much more likely than white students to be at risk of school failure, even controlling for family income.
The study by the National Center for Education Statistics, which examined data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988, a federally funded survey of some 25,000 8th graders, found that black, Hispanic, and Native American 8th graders were much more likely than white 8th graders to perform below basic levels in reading and mathematics. It also found that the minority students were more likely than white students to drop out of school between 8th and 10th grade.
Among minorities and whites of the same socioeconomic status, the report found, the dropout rates were about the same. However, it found, low-income minority students were more likely than poor whites to perform poorly in reading and math.
The study also found, as expected, that students from single-parent families, those who had repeated grades, and those who had frequently changed schools were most likely to be at risk of school failure, as were those whose parents were not actively involved in their children's schools or who held low expectations for their children's educational attainment.
The report, "Characteristics of At-Risk Students in NELS:88,'' can be obtained by calling or writing the N.C.E.S., 555 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20208; (800) 424-1616.
Providing extra periods for remediation during the school day appears to help disadvantaged students' reading and mathematics achievement, according to a new study.
Unlike in "pullout'' programs, the study found, students who take additional remedial periods are able to reinforce their skills without missing other work. The study also found that such programs tend to have high attendance rates.
Moreover, it found, such programs may be a cost-effective remediation option, since schools can hire one fewer elective teacher.
However, the study found, pullout programs, before- and after-school programs, and peer tutoring continue to be the most popular options for middle schools. Some 40 percent of the 1,000 schools surveyed used those programs, compared with 17 percent that used extra periods.
A report of the study, "Helping Students Who Fall Behind: Remedial
Activities in the Middle Grades,'' is available for $3, prepaid, from
the Center for Research on Effective Schooling for Disadvantaged
Students, The Johns Hopkins University, 3505 North Charles St.,
Baltimore, Md. 21218; cite Report No. 22.--R.R.