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Published in Print: November 26, 2003, as Report Roundup

Report Roundup

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Class Size, Learning Examined in Study

The number of years that K-3 pupils spend in classes with fewer children seems to have little effect on their academic achievement, a study suggests.

Published earlier this month in the electronic journal Education Policy Analysis Archives, the study is based on California's recent experiences at reducing class sizes to 20 or fewer students in kindergarten through the 3rd grade.

Researchers from the RAND Corp., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank, examined the standardized-test scores over five years for pupils in 2,892 schools across the state. Some children had spent only their 2nd and 3rd grade years in smaller classes. Others had been in small classes for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. All other factors being equal, the researchers found, getting the extra year of small classes in 1st grade did not translate to significant test-score gains for the children in the latter group.

—Debra Viadero

Poverty's Impact

A new report examines the ways in which children from low-income families lag behind their more affluent peers academically, physically, and socially.

The report, produced by the New York City-based National Center for Children in Poverty, analyzes the U.S. Department of Education's Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99.

—Linda Jacobson

Alcohol Abuse

There are strong indications that alcohol use contributes to school-related violence, but the problem gets too little attention from policymakers and administrators, concludes a recent study unveiled by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Drawing on data from a number of other reports, the study—published in the September issue of the NASSP Bulletin—notes that both alcohol and other substance abuse on school grounds is a fairly widespread problem. It concludes that aggressive acts at school are related to alcohol use specifically when the drinking occurs in school settings.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Global Learning

Americans' lack of knowledge about other nations and cultures represents a "national liability" at a time when there is an "urgent need" for more people with international language skills and knowledge.

That conclusion comes in a report released last week by the Washington-based NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The report proposes that governors and state legislatures make international education an integral part of their efforts to improve state economic development.

It also says college and university presidents need to do more to encourage and support programs enabling U.S. students to study abroad; and the president and Congress should work together to increase the resources necessary to raise the profile of study- abroad programs.

—Kevin Bushweller

Voucher Programs

A survey of more than 1,000 private schools has found that many would not participate in tuition-voucher programs if doing so would entail regulation of their curricula, decreased control over admissions, or a declining emphasis on religious instruction.

For More Info
Read an executive summary of the report, "The Struggle for School Choice Policy after Zelman: Regulation vs. the Free Market," from the Cato Institute. The full text is also available. (Full text requires Adobe's Acrobat Reader.)

The survey—conducted by the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank that advocates free-market principles—examines school voucher programs, and how private school administrators view them, following the U.S. Supreme Court's 2002 decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris. In that case from Cleveland, the court upheld the use of publicly financed vouchers for tuition at religious schools.

—Catherine A. Carroll

High Schools

The Alliance for Excellent Education has issued a report that takes the federal No Child Left Behind Act to task for investing too little in high school improvement.

The Washington-based advocacy group's report includes data on graduation rates, adolescent literacy, teacher quality, and other areas that it hopes will serve as a snapshot of American high schools as the mandates of the No Child Left Behind law take hold.

—Catherine Gewertz

Vol. 23, Issue 13, Page 11

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