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Federal Study Tracks Differences Between Urban, Other Students

Students in urban, suburban, and rural schools have substantial differences in their family backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and school experiences, a recent federal study concludes.

The report from the National Center for Education Statistics examines students in different school situations, comparing education outcomes, family backgrounds and after-school activities, and school experiences.

For virtually every characteristic examined, schools with a high percentage of students in poverty compared unfavorably with schools that primarily serve more affluent students.

The study describes students who attended school in the 1980s; it examined their progress through 1990.

"Urban Schools: The Challenge of Location and Poverty," free, from the National Library of Education, (800) 424-1616; or on the World Wide Web, viewable with Adobe Acrobat, at: http://www.ed.gov/NCES/pubs/96184.html

Censorship in Schools: Nearly 500 attempts to censor curricula, library materials, and textbooks occurred in 44 states during the 1995-96 school year, according to an annual report from People for the American Way.

"Every attempt to censor a library book has the potential to limit education to students," said Carole Shields, the president of the liberal advocacy group, based in Washington.

The cases cited in the report were gathered from reports in the news media and from the group's survey of about 75,000 national educators.

"Attacks on the Freedom to Learn," $16.95 each, from PFAW, 2000 M St. N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20009. Portions of the study are also available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.pfaw.org/attacks.htm

Special Education

With education dollars growing tighter and the number of students who need special services rising, more than half the states have begun reforming the way they pay for special education.

The federally supported Center for Special Education Finance in Palo Alto, Calif., has published three reports that examine efforts in some states and trends in special education funding.

"Special Education Expenditures and Revenues in a Census-Based Funding System: A Case Study in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," free, from the Center for Special Education Finance, (415) 493-3550. "Cost-Effectiveness of Instructional Support Teams in Pennsylvania" and "Special Education Finance: Past, Present, and Future" are $12 each. All three reports are available on the World Wide Web, viewable with Adobe Acrobat, at: http://lists.air-dc.org/csef_hom/publinks.html

Higher Education

Large public research and doctoral universities are far more selective in choosing their freshman classes than they were five years ago, according to a study from the Washington-based National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

The report shows that 68 percent of the admissions officers at NASULGC institutions said that the academic qualifications of entering freshmen were higher in 1995 than they had been in 1990. Competition for qualified applicants has substantially increased as universities have expanded their recruitment range from local or statewide to regional or national, the report says.

"Who's Coming to Campus? Admissions Policies for Entering Freshmen at Public Universities," free, from the Office of Public Affairs, NASULGC, 1 Dupont Circle, Suite 710, Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 778-0842.

Graduates and Debt

Educational borrowing by graduate and professional students rose 74 percent between 1993 and 1995, a study has found. The new total amount borrowed is $7.7 billion, up from $4.4 billion, according to the report.

The number of such borrowers jumped in the same period from 600,000 to more than 1 million, according to the study by the Washington-based Institute for Higher Education Policy and the Education Resources Institute, of Boston. Low-income and minority professional and graduate students borrow at higher rates than other groups, the study notes.

"Graduating Into Debt," free, from the Education Resources Institute, 330 Stuart St., Suite 500, Boston, Mass. 01226-5237; (800) 255-TERI, ext. 4762; fax (617) 451-9425.

Arts Education

The National Endowment for the Arts has released a booklet that offers help with designing education projects and programs in the arts.

The booklet provides a list of objectives and principles that are important in arts education. Among them are: direct involvement with artists and their work; and recognizing that diverse groups of people contribute to the aesthetic and cultural fabric of a community.

"Lifelong Journey: An Education in the Arts," free in limited numbers, from the endowment's office of public information, (202) 682-5400; or send email to: webmgr@arts.endow.gov.

Teenagers' Views: Today's teens worry about crime and other social issues, but are seeking futures balanced by family and career success, according to a survey featured in Parade magazine.

The once-a-decade survey of almost 1,000 young people, ages 13 to 17, compared their views on family, school, world, and national problems with those of students in the 1970s and 1980s. The survey was sponsored by the Alexandria, Va.-based Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans and by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, based in Reston, Va.

Information about ordering the "Mood of American Youth" survey is available from Rosica, Mulhern & Associates at (201) 445-7606.

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