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Standards-Based Reform Makes Gains, Study Finds

Despite encountering such difficulties as changes in leadership at the state level, standards-based systemic reform has made "impressive gains" in recent years, concludes a study of nine states.

The 72-page report focuses on reform during 1994 and 1995 in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Texas. It also looks at 25 school districts in those states. The study was conducted for the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, based at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

"Persistence and Change: Standards-Based Reform in Nine States," $10 each, from CPRE, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, 3440 Market St., Suite 560, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104-3325, Attention: Publications; (215) 573-0700, ext. 0.

Bilingual Education

Arizona has garnered the highest grade awarded in the Center for Equal Opportunity's 10-state report card on bilingual education--a C+.

That state earned relatively high marks because it gives individual schools the discretion to choose how to teach language-minority children rather than requiring a specific approach; the state pays for all programs for limited-English-proficient students, not just bilingual education programs; and state policy accords parents the right to remove a child from a bilingual education or English-as-a-second-language program.

A frequent critic of bilingual education programs, the center ranks the 10 states with the largest numbers of LEP students: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Texas. The report looks at how children are classified as LEP in each state, what instructional methods are mandated, parental rights in LEP programs, and state funding for programs that serve language-minority children.

"Bilingual Education: A Ten State Report Card," $5 each, from the Center for Equal Opportunity, 815 15th St. N.W., Suite 928, Washington, D.C. 20005; (202) 639-0803. The report is also available on the Internet at

Environmental Education

A recent report by an education watchdog group maintains that a national effort to stop environmental education is "being funded by corporate polluters with a vested interest in overturning environmental education."

The 68-page report by the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education in Oakland, Calif., argues that current attacks on environmental education are not part of a grassroots movement but are orchestrated to look that way by conservative think tanks and foundations financed by such corporations as Amoco Corp., Dow Chemical Co., and Shell Oil Co.

"Endangered Education: How Corporate Polluters Are Attacking Environmental Education," $20 each, from the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education, 360 Grand Ave., #385, Oakland, Calif., 94610; (510) 268-1100.

Charitable Giving

Buoyed by a strong economy, gifts to the nation's charities grew by nearly $10 billion in 1996, a new study says.

The 7.3 percent jump, to a total of $150.7 billion last year, marks the second consecutive year in which charitable giving outpaced inflation, reports the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy in its latest annual report. The New York City-based group credits a bullish stock market and growth in personal income for the increase.

Not all types of charities made such significant gains, however. While arts and humanities nonprofits saw a 9.7 percent increase, contributions to religious and human-service charities rose a more modest 4 percent to 5 percent. Education institutions saw an increase of about 6.8 percent.

"Giving U.S.A. 1997" will be available in August, $49.95 (plus $4.50 for shipping), from the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy, 20 Academy St., Dept. K, Norwalk, Conn. 06852-7100; (800) 5-GIVING.

State Assessment

The Council of Chief State School Officers has released its fourth annual report on the status of states' student-assessment programs.

The report describes trends in state testing programs since 1992. It is based on surveys sent last year to state officials asking for descriptions of the assessment programs they ran in the 1995-96 school year.

"Trends in State Student Assessment Programs," $10.95 each, plus $2 shipping and handling, from the CCSSO, 1664 Algoma Drive, Okemos, Mich. 48864-4059; (517) 347-1145. A set of data tables is also available for an additional fee.

Helping the Disadvantaged

New education and employment services are opening up paths for young people in high-poverty areas to help them overcome barriers to success and move into responsible adulthood, a study conducted for the U.S. Department of Labor says.

The study by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. evaluates the Youth Fair Chance program. Underwritten by the Labor Department, the program helps young people finish high school, get better jobs, and address personal and family problems that are obstacles to success, the report says. The program establishes community learning centers to help youths who are out of school and offers school-to-work initiatives for in-school teenagers. Twelve Fair Chance programs operate in urban areas and four in rural areas, the initial program began in 1994.

"The Positive Force of Youth Fair Chance: Giving Young People in Poverty a Chance at Education and Earnings,'' $14 (plus $2.50 for shipping and handling) from Jan Watterworth, Librarian, Mathematica Policy Research Inc., P.O. Box 2393, Princeton, N.J. 08543-2393; (609) 275-2334. More information can be found on the World Wide Web at .

School Workers' Salaries: Not only a school workers' salary survey, a report produced by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana Inc. also comes in a handy poster format.

The report provides salary and benefit information for classroom teachers, bus drivers, food-service workers, building custodians, central-office secretaries, and building secretaries in Louisiana and other parts of the South.

The poster, which is actually a summary of a more detailed technical report, gives data from 58 of Louisiana's 66 school districts and 43 districts from the surrounding 15-state area.

Louisiana has a greater need to increase pay for classroom teachers than for school support workers, concludes the summary. But it also suggests that the state consider a longer work year rather than simply provide across-the-board raises.

"School Employee Pay: How Does It Stack Up?," $5 each, from the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana Inc., P.O. Box 14776, Baton Rouge, La. 70898-4776; (504) 926-8414. The more detailed report is available for $20.

Charter Schools

While parents and participants report high satisfaction with five charter schools in Massachusetts, the schools also face significant barriers, a new report shows.

Attention to education issues--such as defining student outcomes and crafting curricula--tends to be overshadowed by more urgent organizational matters, such as governance and budget issues, the study found.

The study, conducted by the Boston-based Institute for Responsive Education, examines three suburban and two urban charter schools. The institute is a national nonprofit research organization that promotes home, school, and community partnerships and new approaches to education.

"Going It Alone: A Study of Massachusetts Charter Schools," $6 each (plus $3.95 shipping and handling), from the Institute for Responsive Education, (617) 373-5372. The full report is also available on the Internet at

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