Intervention Found to Help College-Going
Minority students from low-income families who take part in early-intervention programs in high school have a better chance than comparable nonparticipants of enrolling in a postsecondary institution, concludes a report by the Washington-based Institute for Higher Education Policy and the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. The report examines 17 such programs in 12 states to identify the characteristics and practices that new programs could replicate.
"Investing Early: Intervention Programs in Selected U.S. States" also found that educators and policymakers are counting on the potential of those early- intervention programs to encourage more disadvantaged students to enroll in higher education.
The Montreal-based Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation sponsored the research for the report, which is being published in both English and French.
—Karla Scoon Reid
Community College Strategies
A center devoted to helping government and business officials develop a stronger workforce has released a study examining successful strategies for community colleges trying to prepare students for high-wage, high-demand jobs.
"Building Bridges to Colleges and Careers: Contextualized Basic Skills Programs at Community Colleges" examines the activities of five community colleges that the authors say have been successful in forging a smooth transition from the learning of basic skills to entry into the workforce for disadvantaged adults. Those schools' approaches included promoting the learning of both developmental and academic skills; encouraging faculty members to teach in different ways by exposing them to new teaching materials and professional development; and working to engage lower- skilled students in their academic work.
The Workforce Strategy Center is a nonprofit organization with offices in New York City and elsewhere.
Driver's Licenses and Safety
Twelve papers presented at a symposium and released last month by the National Safety Council found that "graduated" driver's-license programs reduce crash rates for teenage drivers by as much as 33 percent.
At least 38 states and the District of Columbia have three-tiered license programs, which typically give teenagers regular driver's licenses only after they have received learner's permits and intermediate licenses that place restrictions on their driving for certain periods of time.
Still, the studies found, teenagers have the highest rate of fatal crashes of all drivers.
—Darcia Harris Bowman
School-based drug-abuse-prevention programs have done more to decrease alcohol and tobacco use among children than they have to reduce illegal drug use, according to a study by the Drug Policy Research Center of the Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization.
A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation says that Internet filters typically used in libraries and schools to block pornography and other inappropriate materials have the unintended consequence of impeding access to online health information when the filters are set at highly restrictive levels.
Because many teenagers use the Internet to look up health information, including on such sensitive matters as contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, the report argues that it is important to ensure that filters don't interfere with what it sees as legitimate inquiries.
Students who receive instruction on how alcohol can affect their physical and cognitive development are more likely to display increased vehicle-safety skills and have a better understanding of their own personal development, according to two recent studies.
The four-year studies surveyed students who participated in Protecting You/Protecting Me—an elementary-level alcohol- prevention curriculum introduced by Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 1998—to test their knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions before and after the program.
According to the studies, the teacher- and student-led programs improved student knowledge about brain functions up to four times more than for students who did not go through the program. The program also increases student awareness of the law, stress management, and decisionmaking skills and "nonuse" attitudes related to underage drinking. Protecting You/Protecting Me has reached nearly 88,000 elementary school pupils.
—Marianne D. Hurst
Elizabeth R. Howard and Donna Christian of the Washington-based Center for Applied Linguistics have written a report synthesizing research findings on what works in implementing two-way language- immersion programs in elementary schools.
The report notes that most of the nation's 266 two-way immersion programs teach Spanish and English. In such programs, students who are Spanish-dominant are taught alongside students who are English-dominant; the goal for all of them is to become equally competent in both languages. Effective practices include providing instruction in both languages for four to six years and delivering the same core academic curriculum that students in other programs receive, according to the report.
The report is published by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence.
—Mary Ann Zehr
Religion and Latinos
A study by the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame finds that religion plays a role in the educational achievement of Latino students.
The authors of the report,"Religion Matters: Predicting Schooling Success among Latino Youth," found that such students who attend church frequently and view their religious faith as important tend to get higher grades and to stay on track in school, compared with Latino students who don't actively participate in religious activities.
—Mary Ann Zehr
Private Management of Schools
The number of public schools managed by for-profit companies continues to grow, according to a report from Arizona State University.
The Commercialism in Education Research Unit at Arizona State's college of education found that 417 charter schools and traditional public schools are being managed by companies this academic year in 24 states and the District of Columbia. That is an increase from 368 schools in 2001-02 and 285 in 2000-01.
The report identifies 47 for-profit companies managing schools this year, compared with 36 last school year and 21 two years ago. However, the authors note that they were able to conclude that some education management organizations were in fact for-profit companies when in past years it was hard to confirm their status.
According to the report, the continued growth of charter schools is providing more management opportunities for the companies. More than 74 percent of schools run by for- profit concerns this year are charter schools. The rest are traditional public schools contracted out to private managers by school districts.
The largest private manager is New York City-based Edison Schools Inc., with 116 schools serving 80,000 students this year. (The report's count of schools sometimes differs from those of the companies, based on differing definitions of what constitutes a separate school.)
Chancellor Beacon Academies, based in Coconut Grove, Fla., is second, with 44 schools serving some 22,000 students, according to the report. Filling out the top five, in order of student enrollment, are National Heritage Academies of Grand Rapids, Mich., the Leona Group of Phoenix, and Charter Schools USA of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Vol. 22, Issue 29, Pages 16-17