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Published in Print: August 4, 1999, as Report Roundup

Report Roundup

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Child Poverty Continues
With Working Parents:

Having a parent who is employed guarantees a child an exit from poverty even less often than it did just a few years ago, according to a report from the National Center for Children in Poverty.

The report is one of a continuing series from the Columbia University-based center that tracks child-poverty trends. The latest installment, released earlier this summer, found that the percentage of impoverished children younger than 6 living with at least one employed parent increased from 45 percent in 1993 to 65 percent in 1997.

According to the authors, the findings suggest that while the welfare overhaul enacted in 1996 has helped move families into the workforce, it has not necessarily moved them out of poverty.

The overall poverty rate for children younger than 6 dropped from 26 percent in 1993 to 22 percent in 1997, but it still remains double the rate in the 1970s.

The center's statistical update includes demographic data on which racial and ethnic groups and regions tend to have the highest percentages of children living in poverty, as well as new information on the link between parents' education and their children's economic well-being.

"Young Children in Poverty: A Statistical Update," $5, from the National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia School of Public Health, 154 Haven Ave., New York, NY 10032; (212) 304-7100.

--Jessica Portner

Middle-Years Focus: In its fourth and final report in a series on the middle grades, the Southern Regional Education Board suggests a framework for state and district policies designed to curb what it calls a "disturbing pattern" of underachievement in grades 5-8 in the region's 16 states.

The report lists 13 recommendations, including suggestions that states create positions in which personnel are responsible for improving achievement in the middle grades and that states develop and require a teaching license specific to the middle school years. Another recommendation in the report, released this summer, is that districts hire only teachers who have experience working with young adolescents and the equivalent of at least a content minor in the subjects they teach.

"Leading the Way: State Actions To Improve Student Achievement in the Middle Grades" and the other reports from the SREB Middle Grades Education Initiative, $15 for the printed set, from the Southern Regional Education Board; (404) 875-9211, Ext. 236; or on the World Wide Web: www.sreb.org/Programs/MiddleGrades/LeadingTheWay/LeadWay.html

--Jessica L. Sandham

Update on Health: Children's health and well-being, for the most part, is improving, according to a recent report.

The third annual report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics shows that the overall national infant-mortality rate dropped from 10.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1983 to 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1997. The mortality rate for all children from birth to age 19 also continued to fall, though the death rate for black children remains almost double the rate for white children.

The report also shows that smoking rates among adolescents declined slightly in 1998, reversing a gradual increase since 1992.

But not all the news was good. The report says that 12.3 percent of the nation's 5- to 17-year-olds have a hard time completing such everyday tasks as walking, dressing, eating, and communicating, with most of the limitations linked to learning disabilities.

Ten federal agencies, including the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice, make up the group that released the report last month.

"America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being," free, from the National Maternal and Child Health Clearinghouse, 2070 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 450, Vienna, VA 22182; (703) 356-1964; or on the World Wide Web: childstats.gov/ac1999/ac99.asp.

--Michelle Galley

Language Issues: A recent report seeks to help policymakers and school administrators sort out their best options for educating students who speak a language other than English.

While political and ideological battles continue to rage over whether such students should be taught through bilingual education or English-immersion programs, the report emphasizes that no single approach or program model works best for all students in all communities.

"Many different approaches can be successful when implemented well. Local conditions, choices, and innovation are critical ingredients of success," concludes the report compiled by the federally financed Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Washington-based Center for Applied Linguistics.

The 44-page report examines program models with an eye toward the resources and local conditions needed for each. Models include "newcomer" programs, transitional bilingual education, developmental bilingual education, and two-way immersion.

"Program Alternatives for Linguistically Diverse Students," $5.50, including shipping and handling, from the Center for Applied Linguistics/Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence, 4646 40th St. N.W., Washington, DC 20016; (202) 362-0700.

--Lynn Schnaiberg

Marriage and Children: Researchers point to pessimism about the institution of marriage and an increased acceptance of a variety of lifestyles in explaining why marriage has become less stable in the United States. Against that backdrop, the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University released survey results this summer that shed light on American adolescents' attitudes toward marriage.

Project researchers surveyed 6,000 high school seniors between 1991 and 1995. About 30 percent of the girls and 40 percent of the boys surveyed agreed that most people would have fuller and happier lives if they chose to get married rather than stay single. Seventy-two percent of boys and 83 percent of girls said that having a good marriage and family life was extremely important to them.

But 49 percent of girls and about 53 percent of boys said that having a child outside of marriage was "experimenting with a worthwhile lifestyle" or only affected the people directly involved.

The researchers conclude that their findings reflect the number of children whose parents either were never married or have been divorced. Last year, 28 percent of U.S. children lived with a single parent, and about 32 percent of live births were to unmarried women, the report says. In the United States last year, there were 1.5 million unmarried adult couples of the opposite sex who had one or more children living with them.

Stable marriages contribute to the physical, emotional, and economic health of men, women, and children and are "important for the proper socialization and well-being of children," the report says.

''The State of Our Unions," $7, from the National Marriage Project, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey New Brunswick Campus, 25 Bishop Place, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1181; (732) 932-2722; e-mail: marriage@rci.rutgers.edu; Web site: marriage.rutgers.edu/State.html.

--Candice Furlan

Intervention Evaluations: Two years ago, the American Youth Policy Forum published evaluations of intervention programs to help refute the assumption that such programs had little effect on young people. This year, the nonprofit professional-development organization has released a new compilation of such evaluations.

The new report includes positive findings from 46 youth programs. Among the approaches described are career academies, school-to-work, tech prep, the Teen Outreach Program, and Youth as Resource. The report includes short evaluations of a variety of community-school, after-school, juvenile-justice, and English-language-development programs.

The summaries include an overview, a brief description of the population served, evidence of effectiveness, key components, contributing factors, study methodology, geographic areas, and contact information.

"More Things That Do Make a Difference for Youth" and the 1997 evaluation, $10 each, from the American Youth Policy Forum, 1836 Jefferson Place N.W., Washington, DC 20036-2505; (202) 775-9731.

--Adrienne D. Coles

Vol. 18, Issue 43, Page 13

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