Beginning this issue, Teacher Magazine introduces "Report Roundup'' in the Extra Credit section. Each month, we will briefly summarize the latest reports in education and related fields and provide addresses for those wishing to order copies. Topics featured in this month's roundup, which can be found on page 62, include homeless children, marijuana use, small schools, and school censorship.
Following is a guide to recent reports in education and related fields.
Too many children are being identified as learning disabled and placed in special education classrooms simply because they have trouble reading, according to a recent report from the International Reading Association. The term "learning disabilities'' has become too vague and has strayed from its original meaning, which referred to children with a neurological problem that has an academic component, the report says. It recommends that children with reading problems receive intensive help in that subject rather than special education services. "For a large segment of our school population today, being mislabeled 'learning disabled' has, in and of itself, become a barrier to literacy,'' the report argues. For a free copy of Learning Disabilities: A Barrier to Literacy Instruction, send a self-addressed, stamped, 9-by-11-inch envelope to the International Reading Association, 444 N. Capitol St., N.W., Suite 422, Washington, DC 20001.
The U.S. Department of Education study of state and local efforts to serve the educational needs of homeless children and young people has found that state and local governments have made notable progress in removing laws that inhibit homeless children from attending public schools. But it outlines many areas in which barriers to access remain. The report, An Evaluation of State and Local Efforts To Serve the Educational Needs of Homeless Children and Youth, is available free of charge from the Planning and Evaluation Service, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Ave., S.W., Room 4162, Washington, DC 20202-8240; (202) 401-0590.
Nearly twice as many young people ages 12 to 17 used marijuana in 1994 as did in 1992, according to a survey released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The annual survey also found that fewer youngsters believe marijuana poses a serious risk to their health. To obtain a free copy of The 1994 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, write to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, P.O. Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20847; (800) 729-6686.
Commentaries from 11 experts on welfare reform have been compiled into a report analyzing legislative proposals before Congress. The report, Dollars and Sense: Diverse Perspectives on Block Grants and the Personal Responsibility Act, are available for $5 each, prepaid, from each of the following groups: The Finance Project, 1341 G St., N.W., Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005; the American Youth Policy Forum, 1001 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 719, Washington, DC 20036; and the Institute for Educational Leadership, 1001 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 310, Washington, DC 20036. Checks should be made payable to the organization from which the copy is ordered.
A new report from the Small Schools Workshop at the University of Illinois at Chicago summarizes what it calls a compelling body of research showing that students are more successful when they are part of small, intimate learning communities. The study credits small schools with improving grades, test scores, attendance and dropout rates, safety and security, and services to students with special needs. Such schools also encourage teacher innovation and improve the performance of female and nonwhite students, the study says. Small Schools: The Numbers Tell a Story can be ordered free of charge from the Small Schools Workshop, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education, 115 S. Sangamon St., 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL 60607; (312) 413-8066.
People for the American Way, a Washington-based civil-liberties advocacy group, has released its annual report on attempts to have books removed from classrooms or school libraries. The report documents 458 attempts to censor materials from U.S. schools during the 1994-95 school year. Attacks on the Freedom To Learn is available for $14.95 each, prepaid, from People for the American Way, 2000 M St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036.
Literacy And Welfare.
The Educational Testing Service has issued a report on the low literacy skills of welfare recipients in the United States. The survey of 27,000 adult welfare recipients in 1992 shows that 40 percent lacked the basic skills needed to complete an application for a Social Security card. The survey focused on the links between literacy and dependency by examining wages, school attendance, family structure, and educational achievement of people on welfare. Copies of Literacy and Dependency: The Literacy Skills of Welfare Recipients in the United States are available for $9.50 each, prepaid, from the ETS Policy Information Center, Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541-0001; (609) 734-5694.
ETS also has released Reaching Standards: A Progress Report on Mathematics. The 85-page study examines the increase in math achievement under the five goals established by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; it also explores the need for continued improvement in elementary and secondary math education. Cost: $9.50. Contact: ETS Policy Information Center (O4-R), Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541.