Following is a guide to recent reports in education and related fields and information on how to order copies.
A More Humane High School.
High schools as they now exist are too large, impersonal, and rigid, according to a new report prepared jointly by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The report, two years in the making, calls on American high schools to evolve into smaller communities where students and adults know each other well, the curriculum emphasizes depth over breadth, and a flexible learning process replaces the factory-era model of teachers lecturing to rows of students. It also urges that the Carnegie unit, the long-standing gauge of whether students graduate and one of the factors that shape the way the school day is planned, be redesigned or abolished. "High school lays the foundation for what Americans become, and what Americans become shapes the high school," the report states. "Now, buffeted by powerful and unsettling winds, both the high school and the country are searching for stability and renewal." Copies of the document, Breaking Ranks: Changing an American Institution, are available for $19.50 each, plus $3 shipping and handling, from NASSP Sales, 1904 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091-1537; order number 2109601.
Compared with their peers in other major industrialized nations, proportionately fewer American students take and pass rigorous, high-level physics and chemistry exams at the end of secondary school, according to an American Federation of Teachers study of science-examination systems in five countries. Last year in the United States, only 5 percent of all 18-year-olds took and passed one or more of the College Board's Advanced Placement exams, states the report, which was released in March by the AFT and the National Center for Improving Science Education. But in Germany, England, and Wales, about 25 percent of students in that age group passed comparable exams. In France and Japan, the comparable numbers were 32 percent and 36 percent, respectively. In those nations, at least three advanced subject-area exams are required for college entrance, while in the United States, AP exams are optional. The report is the third in an AFT series called Defining World-Class Standards. Copies are available for $15 each from the AFT Order Department, 555 New Jersey Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20001-2079.
Private School Fund Raising.
The National Association of Independent Schools has published a "how to" book on the nuts and bolts of fund raising for private schools. Philanthropy at Independent Schools examines the roles of a variety of key fund-raisers, from the development officer to trustees to the head of the school. It uses a fictional school to create a portrait of the issues most schools face and the decisions they need to make. The 105-page book identifies seven fund-raising trends. It suggests, for example, that private schools will increasingly rely on private gifts; that fund raising will become more personalized, conducted face to face; and that school heads and trustees will have to devote more time to raising money. Copies of the book are available for $18 each for association members and $22 for nonmembers from the NAIS publication office; call (202) 973-9749.
The Indiana Education Policy Center at Indiana University's school of education has released a report that analyzes the current status of the charter school movement. The report provides historical background on charter schools, which receive public money but operate free of many government regulations. It examines charter school legislation that was considered but not passed during the 1995 session of the Indiana legislature, discusses existing research on the more than 200 U.S. charter schools, and offers recommendations for policymakers. The report also includes names of contacts in each state that allows charter schools and lists selected charter school organizations and experts. Charter Schools: Legislation and Results After Four Years is available for $12 from the IEPC; call (812) 855-1240.
Private School Vouchers.
Private schools cost less than many people think, and giving parents a voucher of about $3,000 per student per year would give them access to a host of educational opportunities, according to a new report from the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian think tank. The average tuition for private elementary schools in the United States is less than $2,500 a year, the report states, while the average tuition for elementary and secondary schools combined is about $3,100. Copies of What Would a School Voucher Buy? The Real Cost of Private Schools are available for $2 each from the Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20001; (202) 842-0200; fax (202) 842-3490.
From School To Work.
A new report from the nonprofit organization Jobs for the Future examines innovative school-to-work programs in five cities. The report finds strong support among teachers and students for such programs and concludes that formal partnerships between business, education, and government leaders are necessary for such programs to work. The programs studied by the Boston-based organization were: Boston; Jefferson County, Ky.; Milwaukee; North Clackamas, Ore.; and Philadelphia. An executive summary of A Year of Progress in School-to-Career System Building: The Benchmark Communities Initiative costs $5. The full report costs $15. Both are available from Jobs for the Future, 1 Bowdoin Square, Boston, MA 02114.
Too few local-level officials in the Southern states are prepared to lead their schools to improved performance, the Southern Regional Education Board warns in a new report. Access to high-quality training is vital for local leaders, the board states, given current efforts to shift more control of schools to the local level. The report examines state leadership programs in the South and describes the range of professional-development programs available. Hungry for Leadership: Educational Leadership Programs in the SREB States is available for $10 from the SREB, Publication Orders Department, 592 10th St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318-5790.