Report Highlights

November 09, 2002 1 min read

The 2002 Brown Center Report on American Education, “How Well Are American Students Learning?,” sponsored by the Brookings Institution, is organized into three separate sections. Here are some highlights from each.

Trends in Reading and Math

  • The percentage of states that reported annual gains in reading from 1999 to 2001 declined each year in grades 4, 5, and 10. A few more states reported gains for 2001 in the 8th grade than in 2000, however.
  • Since 1990, U.S. students have registered test-score gains in several math areas, especially problem-solving, geometry, and data analysis. But computation skills have been flat at best, and there is some evidence that they have declined.
  • In grades 4, 5, 8, and 10, fewer states reported gains in math scores in 2001 than in 2000.

High School Culture and Athletics

  • American students encounter two distractions in high school that other nations minimize: part-time work and sports. A survey of 562 U.S. and international students who participated in foreign exchange programs found that more than one- third of U.S. students work in jobs at least five hours a week, compared with only 9 percent of their counterparts in other countries.
  • Academically high-achieving athletic powerhouses are located in relatively wealthy neighborhoods and serve predominantly white, non-Hispanic populations.
  • Urban schools that are deemed athletic powerhouses score no better or worse than schools that are not powerhouses and serve similar populations.

Charter School Achievement

  • Though more research is needed, the authors say, the charter schools studied for the report scored significantly below regular public schools on achievement tests.

  • Urban charter schools exhibit higher achievement than suburban or rural charters.

  • Larger charters scored higher than smaller charters;

  • Charters already existing in 1999 scored higher than charters opening their doors for the first time that year.


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