Report Roundup

May 09, 2001 9 min read
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Smaller Classes Boost Test Scores, Study Says: Children who were assigned to classrooms with smaller numbers of students in kindergarten through 3rd grade outperformed their peers in mathematics well into early adolescence, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and Tennessee State University has found.

For More Information

“The Long-Term Effects of Small Classes in the Early Grades: Lasting Benefits in Mathematics Achievement in Grade 9" is available for free. For a copy, call (773) 702-8356.

Tennessee students who had been enrolled in K-3 classrooms serving 13 to 17 pupils scored several points higher on standardized math tests for 9th graders than did those who had been in classes of 22 to 26 students during those grades, the report says. The study included about 11,000 students at 79 elementary schools in 42 school districts.

Smaller class sizes were especially helpful for minority students, the research found.

—Julie Blair

Charter School Survey: A survey of charter schools suggests that many of the independent public schools have long waiting lists and serve large numbers of poor and minority children, and that nearly all give at least one standardized test annually.

For More Information

Key findings are available from the Center for Education Reform. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The Center for Education Reform, a Washington-based research group that advocates school choice, surveyed 346 of the roughly 2,000 charter schools now operating nationwide. “Survey of Charter Schools, 2000-2001" found that 63 percent of the schools had waiting lists for enrollment, with schools averaging 112 students per list. It also found that 40 percent of the schools enrolled 61 percent or more students who receive free or reduced-price lunches.

—Erik W. Robelen

Abstinence and Contraception: A majority of American adults and 12- to 19-year-olds in a recent survey believe that teenagers should not be sexually active, but that those who are should have access to contraception.

For More Information

The survey results are available from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

The poll by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy—of 1,024 adults and 1,002 secondary school students—found that most adults (70 percent) and secondary school students (74 percent) believe that advocating abstinence while also offering teenagers information about contraception does not send a mixed message, as some abstinence-only advocates argue. Still, 95 percent of adults, and 93 percent of middle and high school students, said it is important that society give teenagers a strong abstinence message.

—Kevin Bushweller

Achievement-Gap Comparisons: A new Web site allows users to compare states’ progress in narrowing the test-score gaps between minority and white students.

For More Information

The data are available the Education Trust.

The Education Trust, a Washington-based research organization that seeks to close the achievement divide between those students, published the data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress to point to success stories in some states. Virginia, for instance, has the highest reading scores among Hispanic 8th graders, and Texas’ black 8th graders score the highest in writing compared with their African-American peers in other states.

—David J. Hoff

Bush’s Education Plan: How might President Bush’s education plan— especially its emphasis on testing, accountability, and school choice—change public education? A report from the Denver-based Education Commission of the States seeks to answer that question.

For More Information

“A Closer Look: State Policy Trends in Three Key Areas of the Bush Education Plan” is available from the Education Commission of the States. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The report reviews the pros and cons of annual testing in grades 3-8, a central feature of the Bush plan, and looks at the types of tests states are now using. It also examines how states are using rewards and penalties to encourage schools to do a better job. Lastly, the report reviews the provisions of state programs designed to give parents greater choices in where they send their children to school.

—Kevin Bushweller

Girls’ Arrest Rates: The picture of troubled youths in America, which in the popular imagination mostly means boys, is taking on a more feminine cast, according to a report by the American Bar Association and the National Bar Association.

For More Information

“Justice by Gender” is available from the ABA.

Between 1988 and 1999, delinquency cases involving girls increased by 83 percent, according to the report, which includes a chart showing the percentage change in juvenile arrests between 1990 and 1999, broken down by gender, for 12 types of offenses, ranging from running away from home to committing aggravated assault. In each case, the percentage increase for girls was greater than it was for boys—or, if arrests for both boys and girls in a particular category declined during the period, the percentage decrease for boys was greater.

— Ben Wear

For More Information

“Advancing Standards: A National Call for Midcourse Correction and Next Steps” is available from the NEA.

Testing and Accountability: Concerned that states’ academic standards are poorly aligned to the tests that measure how well students are meeting those standards, the National Education Association, has published a report calling for a “midcourse correction” to state testing and accountability systems.

The report warns that “if testing and accountability systems are not firmly based on standards, they will undoubtedly measure the wrong knowledge and skills, reach the wrong conclusions about student performance, and prescribe the wrong incentives and assistance for educational improvement.” It recommends strategies for improving state testing and accountability systems.

—Kevin Bushweller

After-School Programs: As the demand for after-school programs increases, a report suggests how schools might develop programs that more closely meet the needs of children and parents.

For More Information

Information on obtaining “Evaluation of the MOST (Making the Most of Out-of-School Time) Initiative: Final Report” is available from the Chapin Hall Center for Children.

The Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago conducted a study of the Making the Most of Out-of-School Time program, or MOST, which operates in Boston, Chicago, and Seattle. The program was designed to come up with strategies to increase the supply, accessibility, affordability, and quality of after-school programs.

—Kevin Bushweller

School Spending and Staffing: A private firm that tracks public education spending and staffing trends has produced a report that looks at state-by-state statistics related to the school workforce. It includes figures on such topics as the number of classroom teachers as a percentage of the public education workforce, teacher compensation as a percentage of instructional spending, and the number of teachers for every district administrator.

For More Information

Read “Tribute for a Light: Public Education Spending and Staffing.”

Utah, for example, has the highest number of teachers for every district administrator, according to the report, which was produced by the Education Intelligence Agency in Carmichael, Calif.

—Kevin Bushweller

Juvenile Crime: Law-enforcement leaders and policymakers are overlooking affordable and effective strategies for combating juvenile crime, choosing instead to pursue aggressive methods that are ineffective and costly, a report contends.

For More Information

Copies of “Less Cost, More Safety: Guiding Lights for Reform In Juvenile Justice,” by Richard A. Mendel, can be obtained for $5 by writing to the forum at 1836 Jefferson Place N.W., Washington, DC 20036-2505.

The report from the American Youth Policy Forum discusses eight strategies that the author says have been proven successful, including reducing overreliance on incarceration, providing comprehensive support for young people with behavioral disorders, and providing high-quality education and career development for youths at risk of delinquency.

—Catherine Gewertz

Teen Drinking and Driving: Lowering the legal blood-alcohol limits in dozens of states has had a sobering effect on teenage drivers, according to a study published last week in the American Journal of Public Health.

The frequency of driving after drinking declined by 19 percent once states passed stricter limits for blood-alcohol content for drivers, according to the study. The conclusion from researchers at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research is based on surveys of more than 5,000 high school seniors in 30 states.

For More Information

Information on obtaining the study is available from the American Public Health Association.

All the states that participated in the survey have lower blood-alcohol limits for younger drivers than for older drivers, although the limits vary and in some cases apply only to drivers less than 18 years old.

For information about obtaining the study, go to the American Public Health Association’s Web site:

—Ben Wear

Immigration in California: The rate at which immigrants moved to California slowed in the 1990s, and the state also lost a large number of immigrants who had been living there to other states that have not traditionally received many immigrants, a study published last week by the Urban Institute says.

For More Information

“Are Immigrants Leaving California? Settlement Patterns of Immigrants in the Late 1990s” is available from the Urban Institute.

California has had the largest share of immigrants of any state since 1980. But in the late ‘90s, the size of that share dropped considerably—from 35 percent to 30 percent—stabilizing at roughly 8 million immigrants from 1995 to 1999, according to researchers at the institute. They identify 19 “new growth” states that have seen faster rates of growth in immigration than any of the states that historically have received the lion’s share of immigration.

—Mary Ann Zehr

Teacher Recruitment: Experts throughout the field agree that districts must look beyond the traditional graduates of schools of education if they are to meet the high demand for qualified teachers in the next decade. To help school systems do so without sacrificing quality, the Urban Institute is offering advice in a new report, “Ahead of the Class: A Handbook for Preparing New Teachers from New Sources.”

For More Information

“Ahead of the Class” is available from Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The advice draws from the experience of the Pathways to Teaching Careers program, an initiative of the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds. Launched in 1989, the program has helped districts across the country expand their teacher- recruitment efforts.

—Jeff Archer

America’s Choice: A publication from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education tracks the progress of 91 schools across the country that are using the America’s Choice model of school improvement.

For More Information

“Moving Mountains: The Successes and Challenges of America’s Choice” is available from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

America’s Choice, designed by the Washington-based National Center on Education and the Economy, is one of the reform models that schools can use to qualify for funding through the U.S. Department of Education’s Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program.

—Debra Viadero

A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 2001 edition of Education Week as Report Roundup


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