Report Roundup

January 22, 2003 4 min read
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Parent-Involvement Research Lacking

Though educators and policymakers seem to agree that parent-involvement programs can improve student learning, a report concludes that the research evidence backing up that belief is paltry.

More information about the Review of Educational Research is provided by the American Educational Research Association. For the report, “Evaluating Evaluations: The Case of Parent-Involvement Programs,” published last month in the Review of Educational Research, researchers from San Diego State University reviewed 41 studies of parent- involvement programs that were conducted between the early 1970s and the late 1990s. It’s not that those studies found the programs were ineffective, the researchers conclude. Rather, they write, the research suffers from serious design, analytical, and methodological flaws, and better-quality studies are needed before the benefits of parent-involvement programs can be touted.

—Debra Viadero

Teacher Training Read “California’s Teaching Force: Key Issues and Trends 2002,” from the Center for Teaching and Learning. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.) One in seven California teachers has not completed a teacher-training program, and that ratio is expected to rise to more than one in five by the end of the decade, concludes a report from the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, based in Santa Cruz, Calif.

What’s more, the analysis found that the least-prepared teachers are concentrated in the state’s neediest and lowest-performing schools. For example, schools with a passing rate below 25 percent on the mathematics portion of the California high school exit exam have twice as many underprepared teachers as those with a passing rate above 50 percent.

—Bess Keller

Downsizing Schools More information about the American Educational Research Journal is posted by the American Educational Research Association. A study that appeared in the fall issue of the American Educational Research Journal documents the success of an effort in New York City to replace a failing, 3,000-student comprehensive high school with a network of five smaller schools.

According to the seven-year study, the newer schools as a group produced better attendance, lower rates of violent incidents, superior reading and writing scores, and higher graduation and college-going rates than the single, large high school they replaced. The project, which began in 1992 and is known as the Coalition Campus Schools Project, involved carving up Julia Richman High School into a network of small schools that shared common features.

—Debra Viadero

Hispanic Progress Read “The Improving Educational Profile of Latino Immigrants,” from the Pew Hispanic Center. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.) Hispanic immigrants are much more likely than they were 30 years ago to get high school diplomas, a study has found.

An analysis of U.S. Census data by the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center, which researches issues affecting Latinos, found that between 1970 and 2000, the percentage of Hispanic immigrants age 25 or older who had completed only a high school education doubled, to 41 percent.

—Mary Ann Zehr

Summer School “Summer School and Summer Learning: Progress and Challenges, 2002" is available from the Southern Regional Education Board. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.) Despite budget concerns, several states have continued to stress the importance of summer school in eliminating the achievement gap between low- and high-performing students, according to a study by the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board.

Many school districts in SREB states cut back summer school programs for high-achieving students in order to have more resources for programs to help failing students.

—Hattie Brown

Student Harassment A summary of the survey results is available from the National Mental Health Association. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

More than three-quarters of teenagers witness teasing or bullying of classmates who are gay or thought to be gay, according to a 2002 survey released this month by the National Mental Health Association.

Nearly 78 percent of the respondents expressed disapproval of the maltreatment of those students, and 5 percent said they try to defend those who are targets.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Drug Abuse More information on the survey is available from Monitoring the Future. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.) Fewer teenagers are taking the popular “club drug” Ecstasy, and cigarettes and alcohol use also continues to decline among adolescents, according to the latest results of an annual survey.

This annual Monitoring the Future survey for 2002 tracked substance abuse among 44,000 students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. Results showed the first-ever drop in the use of Ecstasy, a stimulant and hallucinogen the survey has been tracking since 1996.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Mercury and Autism The study is available to registered users from The Lancet. In a study that adds to the debate over the origins of autism, researchers have concluded that infants who received vaccines containing a mercury-based preservative did not have unsafe mercury levels in their blood.

The study addresses the concern of parents who believe that mercury caused autism in their children. Vaccinations are given around age 2, which is also when the symptoms of autism often first appear. But the study of

61 infants—published Nov. 30 in the British medical journal The Lancet—found that they naturally rid themselves of the mercury faster than previously thought.

—Lisa Fine Goldstein


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