Report Roundup

May 21, 2003 3 min read

Dropouts Undercounted, Business Study Says

A study released May 14 by a leading business organization attempts to show that the nation’s statistics on high school dropout rates have been vastly underestimated.

Read the study, “The Hidden Crisis in the High School Dropout Problems of Young Adults in the U.S.: Recent Trends in Overall School Dropout Rates and Gender Differences in Dropout Behavior,” from the Business Roundtable. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The report, sponsored by the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based association of corporate executive officers, and undertaken by the Center for Labor Market Studies, at Northeastern University in Boston, contends that between 25 percent and 30 percent of high school students in the United States do not graduate with high school diplomas.

The dropout estimate is based on data from the Current Population Survey of the U.S. Census; an analysis of individuals who were missing, homeless or institutionalized, among other factors. It counts only students who received regular high school diplomas, and not those who passed the General Educational Development test. The dropout estimates far exceed some national estimates in recent years.

The study also includes state-by- state estimates of those rates, and an examination of the different ways dropout rates are counted (“Study: Formulas Yield Widely Varied Graduation Rates,” this issue.)

—Sean Cavanagh

Parental Pressure

A survey conducted by the Gallup Organization of students ages 13 to 17 has found that 22 percent of the teenagers said their parents put “a great deal” of pressure on them to get into a good college, and that 41 percent said parents put “some” pressure on them.

“College Admissions: Teens Feel the Heat” is available online from the Gallup Organization, but requires a subscription fee.

The survey, released this month by the Washington-based polling organization, also found that responses from teenagers varied according to parents’ educational backgrounds. Nearly 70 percent of the respondents who had at least one parent who had attended college said they felt at least some kind of pressure to get into a good college, compared with 52 percent of respondents from families in which neither parent had attended college.

—Sean Cavanagh

Technology Response

When technology is used effectively in schools, the reasons often are rooted in the particulars of the community, school requirements, and children’s learning styles, according to a collection of essays by school leaders.

Ordering information for the collection of essays is available from the Appalachian Technology in Education Consortium.

How to Ensure Ed/Tech is Not Oversold and Underused, commissioned by the Appalachian Technology in Education Consortium and published by Scarecrow Press, serves as a collective response to the 2001 book Oversold and Underused by Larry Cuban, an education professor at Stanford University.

In that book, Mr. Cuban was highly critical of schools’ increasing emphasis on using technology to teach children. He argued that teachers are not trained properly to use computers in ways that will improve students’ academic performance.

—Andrew Trotter

Securing Web Sites

A report by the National Center for Education Statistics offers practical tips on how to create and maintain secure and effective school Web sites.

Read the report, “Weaving a Secure Web Around Education: A Guide to Technology Standards and Security,” from the National Center for Education Statistics. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The statistics-gathering arm of the U.S. Department of Education examines the steps necessary to adequately secure information sent from computer to computer in a school district or education agency. The study—aimed at administrators, policymakers, and technology coordinators—also discusses some of the policy, purchasing, and legal issues involved in operating a Web site.

—Rhea R. Borja

Rural Education

A growing concern among state officials and educators about the difficulties the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001 may present for rural schools has prompted a national education group to issue a how-to manual to help rural schools comply with the federal law.

“No Child Left Behind: A Guide for Small and Rural Districts” costs $10.50. The National Association of State Boards of Education provides ordering information online.

The guide released by the National Association of State Boards of Education includes, among other information, the specific provisions of the law that are likely to have a major impact on rural schools.

In its manual, the Alexandria, Va.-based NASBE notes that about one-third of the nation’s school districts are considered rural.

—Kevin Bushweller