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Column one: Research

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A researcher from the National Center for Education Statistics has raised doubts about the way the National Assessment of Educational Progress reports the way students from low socioeconomic backgrounds perform on the assessment.

For years, NAEP has indicated that students from "disadvantaged urban areas'' perform least well on the assessment, compared with those from "advantaged urban'' and "extreme rural'' areas.

But Laura Lippman, a statistician from the N.C.E.S., compared the îáåð data with those from the 1980 Census and found that many of those classified in the assessment as "disadvantaged urban'' were in fact "neither disadvantaged nor urban.'' Moreover, she found that the definition of students in that category varied considerably from state to state and from year to year.

Gary W. Phillips, the associate commissioner of the N.C.E.S., which oversees NAEP, said that the agency is considering other ways to describe the socioeconomic backgrounds of the students tested.

Contending that much of the debate over education is ill-informed by research, a Canadian physician, in conjunction with an Ontario researcher, has produced a videotape aimed at explaining in plain language "what works'' in education.

The 76-minute videotape, "Failing Grades,'' includes sections on international comparisons of educational achievement, effective teaching techniques, effective-schools research, and methods of teaching disadvantaged students. It also includes commentary by leading U.S. researchers, including the University of Chicago sociologist James S. Coleman.

Copies of the videotape and an accompanying essay and bibliography are available for $17.95 each by writing: The Society for Advancing Educational Research, c/o VICOM Ltd., 11603 165th St., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5M 3Z1.

Two organizations in the United States, meanwhile, have prepared a publication that outlines research findings in science education.

Written in a question-and-answer format, the publication addresses such issues as the need for change, instructional methods and assessment, and parent and community involvement.

Copies of the publication, "What We Know About Science Teaching and Learning,'' are available for $5 each by writing: EdTalk Publication, Council for Educational Development and Research, 2000 L St., N.W., Suite 601, Washington, D.C. 20036.--R.R.

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