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Reading Problems Often Mislabeled as Disability

Too many children are being identified as learning disabled and placed in special-education classrooms simply because they have trouble reading, according to a recent report from the International Reading Association.

The term "learning disabilities" has become too vague and has strayed from its original meaning, which referred to children with a neurological problem that has an academic component, the report says.

It recommends that children with reading problems receive intensive help in that subject rather than special-education services.

"For a large segment of our school population today, being mislabeled 'learning disabled' has, in and of itself, become a barrier to literacy," the report argues.

"Learning Disabilities--A Barrier to Literacy Instruction," free with a self-addressed, stamped, 9-by-11-inch envelope from the International Reading Association, 444 N. Capitol St. N.W., Suite 422, Washington, D.C. 20001.

Educating Homeless Children

The U.S. Department of Education has evaluated state and local efforts to serve the educational needs of homeless children and young people.

The report, based on a survey of the 50 states, found that state and local governments have made notable progress in removing laws that inhibit homeless children from attending public schools. But it outlines many areas in which barriers to access remain.

"An Evaluation of State and Local Efforts To Serve the Educational Needs of Homeless Children and Youth," free from the Planning and Evaluation Service, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Ave. S.W., Room 4162, Washington, D.C. 20202-8240; (202) 401-0590.

Marijuana Use Up

Nearly twice as many young people ages 12 to 17 used marijuana in 1994 as did in 1992, according to a survey released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The annual survey, which also found that fewer youths believe marijuana poses a serious risk to their health.

"The 1994 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse," free from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, P.O. Box 2345, Rockville, Md. 20847; (800) 729-6686.

Welfare Reform, Block Grants

Commentaries from 11 experts on welfare reform at the national, state, and local levels have been compiled into a report analyzing legislative proposals before Congress.

"Dollars and Sense: Diverse Perspectives on Block Grants and the Personal Responsibility Act," $5 each, prepaid, from either: The Finance Project, 1341 G St. N.W., Suite 820, Washington, D.C. 20005; the American Youth Policy Forum, 1001 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 719, Washington, D.C. 20036; or the Institute for Educational Leadership, 1001 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 310, Washington, D.C. 20036. Checks should be made payable to the organization from which copies are ordered.

School Censorship

People for the American Way, a Washington-based civil-liberties advocacy group, has released its annual report on attempts to have books removed from classrooms or school libraries.

The report documents 458 attempts to censor materials from U.S. schools during the 1994-95 school year.

"Attacks on the Freedom to Learn," $14.95 each, prepaid, from PFAW, 2000 M St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

Literacy Skills and Welfare

The Educational Testing Service has issued a report on the low literacy skills of welfare recipients in the United States.

The survey of 27,000 adult welfare recipients in 1992 shows that 40 percent lacked the basic skills to complete an application for a Social Security card.

The survey focuses on the links between literacy and dependency by examining wages, school attendance, family structure, and educational achievement of people on welfare.

"Literacy and Dependency: The Literacy Skills of Welfare Recipients in the United States," $9.50 each, prepaid, from the ets Policy Information Center, Rosedale Road, Princeton, N.J. 08541-0001; (609) 734-5694.

Math and Science Reform

The Annenberg/CPB Project has made available to the public a guide to mathematics and science reform across the nation.

The guide allows users to search a computer database of math and science reform projects, including lists of contacts and funding sources; organizations involved in reform; and listings of relevant conferences.

"The Guide to Math & Science Reform" software and a paperback guide on how to use it are free while supplies last, from the Annenberg/cpb Math and Science Project, P.O. Box 2345, South Burlington, Vt., 05407-2345; (800) 965-7373. Specify Macintosh or ms-dos/Windows format. An updated version will be available for $9.95 in November.

The guide is also available on the Internet at

Small Schools

A new report from the Small Schools Workshop at the University of Illinois at Chicago summarizes what it calls a compelling body of research showing that students are more successful when they are part of small, intimate learning communities.

The study credits small schools with improving grades, test scores, attendance and dropout rates, safety and security, and services to students with special needs.

Such schools also encourage teacher innovation and improve the performance of female and nonwhite students, the study adds.

"Small Schools: The Numbers Tell a Story," free from the Small Schools Workshop, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education, 115 S. Sangamon St., 3rd Floor, Chicago, Ill. 60607; (312) 413-8066.

Higher Education

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities has released a report detailing trends and opinions in higher education.

The report includes surveys of state legislators and policymakers, state-by-state data about tuition and financial aid, and enrollment information.

"Report of the States," $12 each for members, $14 for nonmembers, from aascu Publications, 1 Dupont Circle, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036-1192.

College Math Standards

The American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges has published new standards designed to overhaul the basic college mathematics curriculum.

The guidelines, for introductory mathematics before calculus, are intended to bridge the gap between high school mathematics and college calculus.

"Crossroads in Mathematics," free while supplies last, from the amatyc, State Technical Institute at Memphis, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, Tenn. 38134.

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