Report Roundup

September 27, 2000 4 min read

Competition Called Incentive in Michigan

Competition from charter schools and Michigan’s “schools of choice” program, which allows students to attend other public schools in their own and neighboring districts, has provided schools with a powerful incentive to improve while expanding the ability of parents to choose where their children are taught, an analysis by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy concludes.

For More Information

Read “The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts,” online, or order it for $5, from the center, (517) 631-0900.

The report by the Midland, Mich., think tank relies on information from the Wayne County Regional Education Service Agency, the intermediate school district for that Michigan county, which includes 34 urban and suburban districts. It also includes state data and anecdotes from district superintendents and principals of charter schools.

—Ann Bradley

Cities and Schools:
Municipal officials, while typically not responsible for overseeing public schools, perceive school improvement and enhanced academic achievement as keys to their cities’ future, the National League of Cities says.

A report by the Washington-based group, based on in-depth interviews with officials in 28 cities, also says leaders identify youth violence as a major challenge and attribute it in part to inadequate opportunities for young people to become engaged in constructive activities outside school.

“City Voices, Childrens’ Needs: New Ways of Taking Action,” free, from the NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, (202) 626- 3087; orders can also be e-mailed to

—Ann Bradley

Discipline Disparities:
Disproportionate suspensions of African- American students from school may be caused more by bias than student misbehavior or socioeconomic status, says a report from the Indiana Education Policy Center.

The study of 11,000 middle school students in an unnamed major Midwestern district compared the reasons for student referrals to the school office and the consequences of that step for black and white students.

For More Information

The report, “The Color of Discipline: Sources of Racial and Gender Disproportionality in School Punishment,” is available online. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Black students were sent to the office almost twice as often as their white peers, the study found, yet there was no evidence that they acted out more than other students.

The two groups were disciplined for different offenses, the study found. African-American students were disciplined for what the researchers call “minor and subjective” reasons such as disrespect, excessive noise, making threats, and loitering. White students were referred mainly for vandalism, obscene language, leaving school without permission, and smoking.

—Ann Bradley

Teacher Quality:
States vary tremendously in how well they regulate and support quality teaching, according to a report by Linda Darling-Hammond, the executive director of the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future. She describes state and district policies that can solve teacher shortages while improving quality, and suggests 10 “action steps” that policymakers can take to address the problem.

“Solving the Dilemmas of Teacher Supply, Demand, and Standards: How We Can Ensure a Competent, Caring, and Qualified Teacher for Every Child,” $8, from the NCTAF, Kutztown Distribution Center, 15076 Kutztown Road, PO Box 326, Kutztown, PA 19530-0326; (888) 492-1241.

—Ann Bradley

Power of Partnerships: Teachers of science, mathematics, and technology don’t get the preparation or professional development they need, but partnerships between schools and colleges and universities can help, says a report by the National Research Council, the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

Teacher education programs should involve classroom teachers, college professors, and those already working in the fields of science, mathematics, and technology, the report says.

For More Information

Read the report, “Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium,” online, or order it for $14.95 in print, from the NRC, (888) 624- 8373; $11.96.

Too often, they do not work together and thus become isolated, it says.

The report outlines a plan that would pair schools with colleges and universities. Master teachers in school districts would receive adjunct-faculty appointments in the colleges, while professors would provide professional development for K-12 educators. All those involved in the partnerships would craft subject-matter benchmarks.

—Julie Blair

Teachers and Bilingual Aides:
A lack of effective interaction between Latino teachers aides and the teachers they assist may prevent them from sharing knowledge about Hispanic students’ cultural backgrounds, a study published by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, & Excellence suggests.

The study’s authors, University of Southern California researchers Robert S. Rueda and Lilia D. Monzo, based their findings on observations of and interviews with Hispanic teachers’ aides and the teachers they worked with in two elementary schools with predominantly Hispanic student populations. All of the teachers’ aides studied were bilingual in English and Spanish.

The researchers found that the tendency of schools to put teachers in charge of evaluating their aides inhibited collaboration that could help the teachers relate better to their Hispanic students. In addition, the teachers and aides rarely had opportunities to discuss instruction away from students, the authors say.

“Apprenticeship for Teaching: Professional Development Issues Surrounding the Collaborative Relationship Between Teachers and Paraeducators,” $5 plus shipping and handling, from the CREDE office at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, (202) 362-0700.

—Mary Ann Zehr