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Published in Print: March 24, 2004, as Report Roundup

Report Roundup

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Study: Web Gives Youths Alcohol-Related Content

Through Web sites, advertising, and other means, the alcohol industry’s presence on the Internet remains a largely unregulated, "potential playground" for minors without adult supervision, a new report concludes.

Conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, which has its headquarters at Georgetown University, the study found that today’s computer-literate young people increasingly have access to alcohol-related advertising and materials through interactive games, advertising, downloadable software, and industry Web sites.

Such materials, the report says, "offered a parade of attractions that appear to have little to do with the quality or taste of the alcohol product, but speak loudly to the culture and mores of the Internet user."

The findings were based on reviews over a three-week period in October and November 2003 of 74 Web sites operated by alcohol companies.

—Robert C. Johnston

Charter School Gains

Charter school students in Arizona, on average, begin with lower test scores than those of their counterparts in traditional public schools, and they show higher overall achievement gains than those peers, according to a report released last week.

The research, conducted by the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, a research organization committed to limited government, examined nearly 158,000 test scores of more than 60,000 Arizona students attending 873 charter and regular public schools over a three- year period.

Using results on the Stanford Achievement Test-9th Edition, the study measured the net effect of attending either type of school on reading scores and on total achievement over time.

—Robert C. Johnston

Foster-Care Rules

A recent report contends that state efforts to reform troubled foster-care systems are hampered by rigid federal financing rules that stifle innovation.

Moreover, it continues, nearly every state faces an inability to spend federal dollars earmarked for foster care on services that could actually give children safer, more stable permanent homes.

The report was released by Fostering Results, a nonpartisan project led by the Children and Family Research Center, based at the school of social work of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"Accountability and more flexible use of federal funding must go hand in hand," said Jess McDonald, a co-director of the Fostering Results project.

—Robert C. Johnston

School Technology

A five-year, $10 million education initiative concludes that education is on the brink of a radical transformation, and that technology is a catalyst for that change and a key to its success.

Among the other findings in the final report of the BellSouth edu.pwr3 initiative: The opportunity to change how schools utilize technology is driven by the demands and interests of students, their choices of learning tools, and the "real world" environment outside of schools.

The report recommends that teachers incorporate the ideas of students to help close the "perception gap" between teachers and students in how technology can be used for learning.

—Robert C. Johnston

Video Warnings

The descriptions and ratings of teen-oriented video games provided by the entertainment-software industry with its products may be misleading, a study contends.

Almost half of a random sample of 81 games that target teenagers showed violence, sexual themes, profanity, and drug abuse, say researchers at the Center on Media and Child Health, based at Children’s Hospital Boston, and the Kids Risk Project at Harvard University’s school of public health.

Ninety-eight percent of the games studied involved intentional violence; 90 percent required players to injure characters or rewarded them for doing so; 69 percent involved rewards or requirements for killing characters; 27 percent showed sexual themes; and 27 percent used profanity.

—Rhea R. Borja

Vol. 23, Issue 28, Page 12

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