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Published in Print: September 1, 2004, as Report Roundup

Report Roundup

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Study of Exit Exams Notes Failure Issues

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Because high school exit exams now determine whether more than half the nation’s public school students will graduate, a report suggests, state education officials must do more to help students who are likely to fail those exams.

Produced by the Washington-based Center on Education Policy, the report notes that large numbers of black and Hispanic students, and those with disabilities or from low-income families, fail the tests. English-language learners perform especially poorly.

Currently, more than half—52 percent—of all public school students live in states that require that they eventually pass high school exit exams to graduate. By 2009, that percentage will increase to about 70 percent.

—Kevin Bushweller

Business Officers

Certification policies for school business officials vary dramatically nationwide, a report shows.

Sixteen states require certification of school business officers, while 15 others have voluntary certification. However, 19 states and the District of Columbia have no certification requirements or recommendations for such officials, according to the report, which was produced by the Reston, Va.-based Association of School Business Officials International.

—Rhea R. Borja

District Leadership

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The executive summary of the report "Leading From the Middle," is available online from the Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform. (Requires Adobe's Acrobat Reader.)

While much has been written about the leadership roles of superintendents, a new report examines the important role of midlevel central-office administrators.

Among other recommendations, the report—produced by the Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform, based in Chicago—suggests that those administrators should spend more time in direct communication with teachers and principals and less time filling out paperwork and attending central-office meetings.

—K.B.

Urban Education

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Public education can be positively influenced by the active leadership of mayors and city council members, a report from the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families says.

The study profiles city-led education initiatives in six cities: Charleston, S.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Lansing, Mich.; New Haven, Conn.; and Portland, Ore.

Among the education challenges addressed by those cities were racial and ethnic achievement gaps; poor middle school test scores; funding inequities; inadequate teacher quality and retention; and lagging public confidence in schools.

—Karla Scoon Reid

Obesity Update

Despite intense focus on Americans’ weight problems, the latest analysis from the federal government shows no decline in the rate of obesity among U.S. children and adults.

The latest figures, covering a two-year period starting in 2001, show that 31 percent of adults and 17 percent of children and adolescents are seriously overweight. The study, based on the measurements of 4,390 adults and 4,258 children, found that although obesity rates changed slightly in several categories between 1999 and 2002, the changes weren’t statistically significant.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Young Mothers

Young mothers of low-birth-weight infants are more likely to stay in school if they live with an adult relative, concludes a study from the National Center for Children and Families, based at Teachers College, Columbia University.

The study focused on 554 mothers ranging in age from 13 to 25. It found that living at home appeared to provide the first-time mothers with encouragement and help with child care. Policy implications, the report says, include a need for programs that support grandparents who are helping the young parents.

—Linda Jacobson

Vol. 24, Issue 1, Page 18

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