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Published in Print: August 6, 2003, as Report Roundup

Report Roundup

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Racial Isolation Seen In Charter Schools

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Charter schools are places of racial isolation, particularly for minority students, says a report by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.

Seventy percent of black charter school students attend intensely segregated schools, compared with 34 percent of black students in regular public schools, the report says. In almost every state studied, the average black charter school student attended school with a higher percentage of black students and a lower percentage of white students.

—Ann Bradley

IT Preparation

Students and others seeking work in the information-technology field must navigate an increasingly complex education and training landscape, concludes a recent federal report.

And employers are in particular need of workers who have both technology training and "soft skills," such as writing, speaking, and critical thinking, according to the 225-page report, released this summer by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

—Rhea R. Borja

Children's Well-Being

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The report, "Kids Count Data Book," is available from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

An annual report that tracks the condition of the nation's children points to a number of positive trends.

The report, published by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, examines 10 indicators in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Among other findings, the report shows a decline in the infant-mortality rate, a drop in the child-death rate in all states except Montana, fewer teenage deaths, a decrease in the birthrate for 15- to 17-year-olds, and a reduction in the national high school dropout rate. The percent of teenagers not attending school also fell during the 1990s.

—Linda Jacobson

Private School Testing

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Titled "2002-2003 Minnesota Statewide Census of Private Education," the report is available for free by calling (651) 297-6716 or sending an e-mail to info@misf.org.

Although private schools are not required by law to participate in Minnesota's standardized academic- achievement tests, a majority of private schools in the state give their students at least one of those tests.

That's one of the findings of a survey conducted of Minnesota's 558 private schools by the Minnesota Independent School Forum, a consortium of 40 private high schools in the state.

According to the report on the survey results, 60 percent of private schools in the state give their students the Minnesota Basic Standards Test for 8th grade. Only about one in four private schools, however, administers each of the state's standardized tests for 3rd, 5th, and 10th grades.

— Mary Ann Zehr

Resilient Children

A team of three education researchers has provided a review of research into educational resiliency, or characteristics of children who do well in school despite adversity.

For More Info
"Review of Research on Educational Resilence" can be ordered from the Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence

The researchers—Hersh C. Waxman and Yolanda N. Padrón of the University of Houston and Jon P. Gray of Beaumont, Texas-based Lamar University—note that most of the current research about such resiliency has focused on minority students from families with low incomes. Risk factors used in the various studies include living in poverty, abusing drugs, being sexually active, growing up in a single-parent home, and having a brother or sister who dropped out of school.

—Mary Ann Zehr

Urban Partnerships

Many school districts are turning to external "reform partners" to meet mounting pressure from state and federal agencies and their communities to improve student achievement.

But such partnerships will be effective only if districts establish the conditions that make them work for schools and communities, says a report by the Providence, R.I.-based Annenberg Institute for School Reform.

—Ann Bradley

Child Care

Adjusting to the social dynamics of a toddler classroom can be a stressful experience for a child, a study suggests.

For More Info
Copies of the journal are available by calling (800) 835-6770 or by ordering online.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis collected saliva samples to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol in small groups of infants and toddlers while they were in full-day, center-based child care. The levels were tested again in the afternoon, once they were home.

Cortisol levels increased in 35 percent of the infants while they were in care, and decreased in 71 percent of them after they were home. Among the toddlers, whose average age was 21/2, increases were found in 71 percent in the morning, and decreases were found in 64 percent after they went home, according to the findings. The study appears in the July/August issue of Child Development, the journal of the Society for Research in Child Development.

—Linda Jacobson

Economic Education

The number of states that have drawn up standards for economic education has grown dramatically over the past five years, a national survey on the subject has found.

The report by the National Council on Economic Education, based in New York City, shows that 48 states—all except Iowa and Rhode Island—and the District of Columbia included the subject in their academic standards last year, 10 more states than in 1998. Yet only 17 states require that economics be offered in high school, and just 14 include the subject in graduation requirements.

—Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Zero Tolerance

The rise of zero-tolerance discipline policies in districts nationwide has led to dramatic spikes in student-arrest rates, a Washington-based social-activism group argues in a recent report.

To illustrate the situation, the Advancement Project report cites several examples, such as a 300 percent jump in arrests between 1999 and 2001 in Florida's Miami-Dade school district.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Condom Programs

Distributing condoms to students in schools does not increase sexual activity among adolescents, but it does lead to greater condom use among students who are already having sex, a study suggests.

For More Info
"Condom Availability Programs in Massachusetts High Schools: Relationships With Condom Use and Sexual Behavior," can be ordered from the American Journal of Public Health. Free abstract also available.

About half of all 9th to 12th graders in a Massachusetts survey reported having sex, with nearly 60 percent of those respondents saying they had used a condom the most recent time, according to the study, published in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health. A group of researchers led by Susan M. Blake of George Washington University analyzed data from the 1995 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey of more than 4,000 students. About 20 percent went to schools that had condom-giveaway programs.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

21st-Century Skills

A task force of education and business executives has measured the gap between the knowledge and skills that students learn in schools and the knowledge and skills now required in the workplace—and concluded that the gap is huge.

In its first report, the group, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, pledges to help bridge that gap by synthesizing research, ideas, and methods; by creating a common language for discussing the problem; and by building consensus in the public and private sectors about the nature of, and need for, such skills.

—Andrew Trotter

E-Rate Benefits

Federal "E-rate" discounts supporting telecommunications services for schools and libraries have been a boon for public school students and library patrons, concludes a report by the Education and Library Networks Coalition. The coalition includes many prominent education and library groups.

The report, based on responses from 800 school and library officials to an e-mail sent to 19,000 officials who have applied for the E-rate, concludes that the $10.5 billion the program has disbursed over five years has played an important role in underserved communities and has helped transform education in rural America.

—Andrew Trotter

Charter Achievement

A study by researchers at a New York City think tank finds that charter schools that are not targeted to specific types of students post slightly higher test- score gains than the regular public schools located closest to them.

Researchers from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, which is in favor of charter schools, analyzed changes in standardized-test scores for the two most recent years available in 11 states.

—Caroline Hendrie

Education of Latinos

A lack of participation by Hispanic children in high-quality preschool programs is one of the causes of achievement gaps that develop between Latino children and those of other racial and ethnic groups, a report on Hispanic education says.

Many Hispanic children could benefit from more exposure to reading, storytelling, and modeling of standard English before they enter school, says the report. It was published by the Washington-based National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, which has offices in Claremont, Calif., and Austin, Texas.

—Mary Ann Zehr

Immigrant Children

A report by Amnesty International USA contends that many children who arrive unaccompanied in the United States are not only detained, but are kept in institutions that violate U.S. and international standards for the detention of children.

The authors of the report say that some children have been arbitrarily detained because they have not had access to legal counsel, translators, and telephones. In addition, some have been treated inhumanely by being housed with juvenile offenders and denied access to appropriate education and exercise, the report says.

According to the report, the number of unaccompanied immigrant children detained in the United States more than doubled from 1997 to 2001—from 2,375 to 5,385.

—Mary Ann Zehr


Vol. 22, Issue 43, Page 16

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