Report Roundup

February 02, 2000 9 min read

Boys’ Aggressive Behavior Rewarded With Popularity: Peers and teachers often reward boys with popularity for behavior that is antisocial, according to a study in the January issue of Developmental Psychology, a journal published by the American Psychological Association.

The most popular 4th to 6th grade boys in both African-American and European-American ethnic groups were athletic, cooperative, studious, and sociable, the study found.

However, about one-third of very popular boys were extremely antisocial, tending to argue, be disruptive, and start fights.

The report’s lead author, Philip C. Rodkin, says the findings, based on a study of 452 boys in 59 classrooms in Chicago and North Carolina, raise questions about whether high popularity buffers antisocial boys from future adjustment difficulties, such as escaping risk factors predicted by peer rejection.

“Heterogeneity of Popular Boys: Antisocial and Prosocial Configurations” appears in Developmental Psychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association Public Affairs Office, 750 First St. N.E., Washington, DC 20002; (202) 336-5700.

—Patricia Lenihan

Decline in Spending: Between the 1997-98 and 1998-99 school years, the U.S. average expenditure per elementary and secondary student declined by 0.5 percent when adjusted for inflation, according to a study by the National Education Association.

The first part of the report, Rankings 1999, provides state-level data on topics relevant to education from the percent of a state’s population that is school-age to the average teacher salary.

The second part of the report, Estimates 2000, provides projections made by the state departments of education on school enrollment, employment compensation, and finances.

“Rankings and Estimates: Rankings of the States 1999 and Estimates of School Statistics 2000" is available for $29.95 from the National Education Association, NEA Professional Library, PO Box 2035, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701; (800) 229-4200.

—Candice Furlan

Black Americans’ Views: African- Americans’ views on education in 1999 were less optimistic than in 1998, according to the 1999 National Opinion Poll results on education released in January by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a nonprofit policy-research group.

More blacks than whites believe their local public schools are getting worse. Thirty-four percent of blacks polled believe their schools have deteriorated, compared with 24 percent of whites. That represents a 23 percent increase in the proportion of blacks reporting dissatisfaction since 1998, while responses among whites were unchanged.

African-Americans from households with the highest incomes (more than $90,000) gave the best overall ratings to their local public schools. But blacks from households earning $60,000 to $90,000 gave the most negative assessments.

“1999 National Opinion Poll: Education,” (requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader), is published by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies at 1090 Vermont Ave. N.W., Suite 110, Washington, DC 20005-4961; (202) 789-3500; fax (202) 789-6390.

—Patricia Lenihan

Title I and English Learners: Title I of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act serves about 57 percent, or 2 million, of the country’s estimated 3.5 million children with limited English proficiency, says a report published in December by the U.S. General Accounting Office.

Two-thirds of the English-language learners who benefit from the federal funding attend schools with schoolwide Title I programs, the study found. The rest are enrolled in schools with targeted Title I programs for disadvantaged children.

Only 10 percent of the targeted programs actually provide instruction for students to acquire English, the GAO found. Most of the programs provide supplemental-reading, language-arts, and math instruction. Most schools rely on funding from sources other than Title I for special language programs for students whose first language isn’t English, the report says.

“Public Education: Title I Services Provided to Students With Limited English Proficiency,” free, from the U.S. General Accounting Office, PO Box 37050, Washington, DC 20013; (202) 512-6000.

—Mary Ann Zehr

Lessons in Improvement: A recent report by the Education Commission of the States looks at school improvement initiatives undertaken before and since the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Project was enacted by Congress in 1997 as a source of support for “reinventing” education.

The report outlines the lessons that the ECS says have been learned during the project. The lessons examine the following: changing the way districts, schools, and states do business; legislative leadership; the importance of state education department support; the crucial role of teachers; and the necessity of frequent evaluation.

Read “Comprehensive School Reform: Five Lessons From the Field,” (requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader), $8, from the ECS Distribution Center, 707 17th St., Suite 2700, Denver, CO 80202-3427; (303) 299-3692.

—Michelle Galley

Child-Abuse Reports: More than 3 million children were reported to child-protective-service agencies as alleged victims of abuse or neglect in 1998, recently compiled data show.

The study provides the most recent nationwide statistics compiled by the National Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research, a division of Prevent Child Abuse America, a 27-year-old Chicago-based group organized to work at the national, state, and local levels.

Although the nation’s overall crime rate fell more than 21 percent from 1993 to 1997, reports of child abuse and neglect increased by 8 percent, and confirmed cases increased 4 percent during the same period.

Read “Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting and Fatalities: The Results of the 1998 Annual 50-State Survey,” from Prevent Child Abuse America, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 17th Floor, Chicago, IL 60604; (312) 663-3520.

—Candice Furlan

Costs of Underage Drinking: The rate of past-month alcohol use for 8th graders surpasses the rate of past-month use for all illicit drugs combined, and yet most parents do not grasp the seriousness and scope of teenage drinking, according to a new survey.

Among the nation’s 113 million drinkers, 10 million are underage and 33 million binge-drink, says the report from Drug Strategies, a nonprofit research institute. The total cost of underage drinking is more than $58 billion annually, the report estimates, including costs from traffic accidents, violent crime, suicide attempts, and treatment.

“Alcohol, especially among youth, has taken a real toll,” says Mathea Falco, president of Drug Strategies. “And there has been little federal investment and no comprehensive strategy to address alcohol-related problems, despite their pervasiveness and cost.”

The report also profiles programs that show promise in addressing the problems caused by youths’ abuse of alcohol.

“Millennium Hangover: Keeping Score on Alcohol,” free, from Drug Strategies, 1575 I St. N.W., Suite 200, Washington DC 20005; (202) 289-9070.

—Patricia Lenihan

Long Odds for Newborns: The extent to which many urban communities remain isolated from the economic and social resurgence experienced by the United States in the past decade is explored in a December report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization that works to help disadvantaged children.

Urban newborns are more likely to be born to unmarried women, to women with less than 12 years of education, and to women who get late or no prenatal care, the study found.

The percent of total births to mothers with less than 12 years of education ranged from a low of 9.5 percent in Honolulu to a high of 47.1 percent in Los Angeles.

Read “The Right Start: Conditions of Babies and Their Families in America’s Largest Cities,” (requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader), from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Attn: Kids Count Special Report, 701 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202; (410) 223-2890.

—Patricia Lenihan

Remedies for Violence:

Emphasizing the fact that violent crime has seen a downturn is an oversimplification that directs attention away from the problem of racial and economic inequality, a recent report argues.

“To Establish Justice, To Insure Domestic Tranquility,” from the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation, a nonprofit Washington- based organization, follows up a national commission’s report with the same name issued in 1969. Such measures as boot camps for youthful offenders, “zero tolerance” policies, construction of more prisons, and programs for high school dropouts under the federal Job Training Partnership Act don’t work, the report contends.

What does work—through improving educational performance, developing young people in positive directions, reducing drug involvement, and enhancing employability, it says—are the Head Start preschool program, “safe havens” for children after school, and full-service community schools in which nonprofit organizations are partners with individual inner-city schools.

Read a summary of the report, “To Establish Justice, To Insure Domestic Tranquility: A 30-Year Update of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence,” (requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader), from the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation, 1600 L St. N.W., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 429-0440.

—Patricia Lenihan

Teen Pregnancy: The federal government spends significantly less money—275 times less—on preventing teenage pregnancy than it does on support and services to families started by teenagers, according to a recent study by Advocates for Youth.

In 1996—the year for which the most recent data are available—the government spent $38 billion to help families begun by teenagers, the report says.

The same year, the federal government provided only $138.1 million for pregnancy-prevention programs. That disparity “reflects the government’s lack of commitment to preventing teen pregnancy,” the group contends.

The Washington-based group says that current levels of funding are not enough to bring U.S. teenage-pregnancy rates in line with those of other industrialized nations. It calls for a substantial increase in spending on pregnancy-prevention programs that are scientifically evaluated as effective in helping teens delay the initiation of sexual intercourse and practice safer sexual behaviors when they become sexually active.

“Teenage Pregnancy, the Case for Prevention,” $11.50, from the Publications Department, Advocates for Youth, 1025 Vermont Ave. N.W., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 347-5700.

—Adrienne D. Coles

Juvenile Justice: In an attempt to assess why young offenders get into trouble upon release back into their communities, a recent report examines statistical and anecdotal information on juvenile justice.

The study from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, which was created by Congress and is made up of state juvenile-justice advisory groups, finds that about 84,000 juveniles are held in custody in the United States on any given day.

Seventy-five percent of juveniles incarcerated are in overcrowded facilities, and of those 800 facilities, the American Correctional Association accredits only 27.

The coalition makes specific recommendations for the president, Congress, the U.S. attorney general, juvenile-justice groups at the state and national levels, the news media, and the public intended to spur a national commitment to improving the conditions of confinement for juveniles.

“Ain’t No Place Anybody Would Want To Be: Conditions of Confinement for Youth,” $5, from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, 1211 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 414, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 467-0846; fax (202) 887-0738; e-mail:

— Candice Furlan

A version of this article appeared in the February 02, 2000 edition of Education Week as Report Roundup