Report Roundup

March 07, 2001 9 min read
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ECS: Can States Meet Proposed Bush Plan?

A report from the Education Commission of the States questions whether states are ready to implement President Bush’s proposed education plan.

For More Information

The report, Building on Progress: How Ready Are States To Implement President Bush’s Education Plan? is available from the Education Commission of the States.

To acquire a better picture of whether states are ready to follow Mr. Bush’s lead—by taking such steps as testing students more often and instituting rewards for schools that succeed and penalties for those that fail—the Denver- based ECS compiled state-by-state information on a host of factors. They include testing policies, school safety efforts, rewards and sanctions programs, and school choice policies and programs.

The report concludes that the progress of the states in meeting the proposed requirements in the president’s K-12 agenda appears to be “uneven, and most states are struggling to put all the pieces together in a coherent and demonstrably effective fashion.”

—Kevin Bushweller

Teenage Pregnancy: Declining teenage-pregnancy rates in the 1990s occurred largely because smaller percentages of teenagers were engaging in sexual intercourse, and sexually active teenagers were using contraception more than before, concludes a report released by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

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More information is available from

“What’s Behind the Good News: The Decline in Teen Pregnancy Rates During the 1990s,” released by the campaign last month, also suggests reasons why today’s teenagers might be engaging in safer sexual behaviors. The report says understanding those reasons could help improve efforts to ensure that the decline in the teen-pregnancy rate continues.

—Kevin Bushweller

Victims of Bullying: Students who are victims of bullying or intimidation in school are unlikely to turn to school guidance counselors, teachers, or administrators for help, a poll of 477 teenagers suggests.

For More Information

More information about the survey is available from The Empower Program or from Tracy Zimmerman or Janeen Lawlor at 202-518-8047.

Released last month by the Washington-based Empower Program, the poll found that school officials ranked dead last—behind parents, and peers and friends— when the students were asked whom they would turn to for help if they felt they were unsafe in school or experiencing cruelty from peers.

Beyond that, the poll, which questioned students between the ages of 14 and 17, as well as more than 400 parents of teenagers within that age group, found that only a third of students believed schools punish students who intimidate other students.

To make matters worse, fewer than a third of the teenagers surveyed who said they were bullied reported it to a teacher, counselor, or school administrator.

And the survey found that only 16 percent of students who had witnessed an act of intimidation or violence attempted to intercede to prevent further abuse.

—Marianne Hurst

Safe Schools: A 15-member panel named by the U.S. Department of Education has identified nine exemplary programs that help schools create safer environments, ones that are relatively free of drugs and violence.

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Find out more about about The Expert Panel on Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools and a take a look at the nine exemplary programs they’ve identified.

The department’s Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Schools Expert Panel also identified 33 programs that are showing promising results. Both the exemplary and the promising programs were picked from among 132 programs now in operation around the country, according to the panel, which released its findings in January.

The panel was composed of educators, researchers, program evaluators and developers, representatives from local and state education agencies, businesses, universities, and the legal and medical communities.

—Marianne Hurst

Californians on Teaching: A recent poll of Californians found that nearly 90 percent of respondents believe that the most important factor that can improve student achievement is a well-qualified teacher.

For More Information

The survey “The Essential Profession: California Education at the Crossroads,” is available from The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

At the same time, the survey found an increasing percentage of those polled believe the problem of poor-quality teaching is getting worse.

The survey results—which were released last month by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning in Santa Cruz, Calif.—found that slightly more than 40 percent of the 1,000 people polled reported that they believed the problem of poor-quality teachers was “very serious and widespread,” an increase of 7 percentage points since 1998.

However, nearly 70 percent of those who responded to the survey said that the teachers in their own communities were performing well.

The report also said that 90 percent of those polled favor raising teacher salaries.

—Julie Blair

Abstinence Education: President Bush’s support for abstinence-only sex education is misguided and not based on proven research, concludes a brief report by Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit group that creates programs and supports policies to educate young people about sexual behavior.

For More Information

The fact sheet, “George W. Bush and the Future of Sexuality Education in the United States,” is available from Advocates for Youth. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

In “Science or Politics? George W. Bush and the Future of Sexuality Education in the United States,” released last month, Advocates for Youth says that while Mr. Bush was the governor of Texas, the state spent more than $10 million on abstinence-only education programs. But, the report says, Texas’ teenage- pregnancy rate is 113 per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19, the fifth-highest teen- pregnancy rate in the nation.

The Advocates for Youth report, which summarizes several studies on the issue, says that recent analyses have found that declines in teenage-pregnancy rates have much more to do with “improved use of contraception” than anything else.

The report highlights a public- opinion poll that found most Americans do not support abstinence-only programs that prohibit teaching about condoms and other forms of contraception.

— Kevin Bushweller

Urban High Schools: Urban high schools are failing to provide young people with the reading and thinking skills that they will need to compete in the 21st century, and the schools should be reorganized to improve the quality of teaching, a recent position paper from the Carnegie Corporation of New York contends.

For More Information

“Creating a New Vision of the Urban High School,” is available from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

“Despite these needs, many educators are saddled with an antiquated secondary school system conceived at the beginning of the last century,” it says. The problem is particularly critical in cities, where schools are so large that students feel anonymous, according to the eight-page paper.

In addition, it argues that the high schools place too few demands on most students and offer them little guidance on the consequences that low expectations can have on their futures.

The paper recommends that high schools be redesigned so that they are smaller and more personalized, and stress academic rigor, teacher collaboration, and community involvement.

—Robert C. Johnston

Schools for the FutureMajor demographic shifts as well as changes in the nature of the workplace have wide-ranging implications for how schools of the future will be designed and managed, according to “Ten Trends: Educating Children for a Profoundly Different Future.”

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Find information on ordering the the report here: “Ten Trends: Educating Children for a Profoundly Different Future,” is available from the Educational Research Service.

One of the most important steps schools will have to take, the report argues, is to do a better job addressing students’ individual needs, rather than standardizing teaching and learning to the ability of average students.

Published by the Educational Research Service, an Arlington, Va.- based nonprofit group that conducts research for school districts and education policymakers, the report points out that the United States will become more racially and ethnically diverse than ever. Non-Hispanic whites are projected to make up less than half the population by 2050, it notes.

And it notes that the school-age population will be a smaller proportion of the population than ever as lifespans increase and birthrates decrease.

Beyond that, the report says, historians are predicting that the next generation of parents will be the most civic-minded since those of the World War II years. That could have broad implications for schools, which have struggled for years to improve parent involvement.

—David J. Hoff

Internet Filters: Internet filtering software is no substitute for good parental supervision of children’s computer use, according to the March issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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Read “Digital Chaperones for Kids,”Consumer Reports analysis of internet filters.

The magazine presents findings from a study of software tools that claim to block children from accessing pornographic and violent images online.

The magazine, published by the nonprofit Consumers Union, tested six popular filters and a similar filtering tool offered by America Online Inc. After installing the software on computers, analysts tried to access 86 “easily located” Web sites containing sexually explicit or graphically violent images.

All of the filters, except AOL’s “Young Teen” filter, allowed at least 20 percent of the sites to be accessed.

Some of the filters actually blocked access to harmless sites—and, in some cases, blocked sites of advocacy groups that opposed filtering, according to the magazine’s report.

—Andrew Trotter

Special Education Mobility: A recently released report by the National Center on Educational Outcomes examines the effects of students’ movement in and out of special education.

For More Information

Read the report, Interpreting Trends in the Performance of Special Education Students.

Researchers from the Minneapolis-based group say such mobility is a frequently overlooked factor affecting student performance.

Among other findings, the data showed that general education students, on average, have a steady academic performance across grades and years. On the other hand, special education students, on average, showed a downward trend in academic performance across grades and years.

In the report, “Interpreting Trends in the Performance of Special Education Students,” the group analyzed the performance data of students from grades 4 through 8 in a state that the researchers say has to remain unnamed. The sample included 200,000 students, with roughly 11 percent in special education.

—Lisa Fine

A version of this article appeared in the March 07, 2001 edition of Education Week as Report Roundup


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