February 01, 2000 3 min read

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Read the article, “Naturalistic Weight-Reduction Efforts Prospectively Predict Growth in Relative Weight and Onset of Obesity Among Female Adolescents,”Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Pound Foolish: Teenage girls who go to great lengths to lose weight actually increase their risk for obesity, a new study has found. Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Texas at Austin followed the health and behaviors of 692 9th grade girls in three Northern California high schools for three years. Those who reported increased dieting and radical attempts at weight loss, the study found, were more likely to put on pounds over time than those who did not. The study appeared in the December issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

Postsecondary Blues: Each fall, thousands of presumably top-flight college freshmen call home and complain to their disbelieving parents that they are miserably unprepared for the rigors of higher education. Although it’s little consolation, this knowledge gap in most cases is not the students’ fault, a new study contends. Rather, it’s the result of a misalignment between the standards of most schools and the expectations of colleges and universities. Despite recent nationwide efforts to boost K-12 standards, most schools and colleges still don’t coordinate what students should know and be able to do as incoming freshmen. Nor do they work together to ensure that high school assessments and college-placement exams are in sync. The study, Ticket to Nowhere: The Gap Between Leaving High School and Entering College and High- Performance Jobs, was prepared by the Education Trust, an advocacy group for disadvantaged students, and the National Association of System Heads, which represents leaders of state university systems. “Many of the kids who land in remedial courses are the kids who played by what they were told were the rules in high school,” says Janis Somerville, director of the university group. “They completed the courses, they passed the tests, they got admitted to college and wham, they take a college-placement test that lands them in noncredit-bearing remedial courses.” Michael Kirst, a professor of education at Stanford University and an expert on school-college misalignment, says the study breaks new ground. “American education was set up in a divided way, in which K-12 policies are settled in separate orbits from postsecondary policy,” Kirst says. “You have states with coordinating councils for higher education and state boards of education, and they rarely, if ever, meet.” To purchase a copy of Ticket to Nowhere, send $2.50 to the Education Trust, 1725 K Street N.W., Washington, DC 20006; (202) 293-1217.

Self-Analysis: Students who attend affiliates of the Coalition of Essential Schools score higher on the SAT and go to college at higher rates than students overall, according to an evaluation prepared by the reform network. During the 1998-99 academic year, coalition students earned a combined score of 1048 on the SAT, 32 points higher than the national average. Meanwhile, 74 percent of students graduating from coalition high schools last spring went on to college this fall, compared with 65 percent of all new high school graduates. Launched by reformer Theodore Sizer in 1984 with 12 schools, the coalition has grown to include some 1,200 schools in 39 states. The new study is based on a survey of 49 schools that have implemented all of the coalition’s 10 principles. Among other things, those principles state that member schools will hold the same goals for all kids, emphasize curricular depth over breadth, treat students as workers, and dedicate resources to teaching and learning. The report, Principles at Work: The Success of a Coalition of Essential Schools, is available at ures/success.html.

—Adrienne D. Coles, Julie Blair, and John Gehring