Report Roundup

September 03, 2003 3 min read

Lunches Graded in Large Districts

Children attending public schools in Detroit and Miami-Dade County are eating school lunches that are much healthier than those offered in other large urban districts, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The 2003 “School Lunch Report Card,” is available from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

In its latest “report card” on the subject, the health watchdog group graded the nutritional quality of the elementary school lunches served in 18 of the largest school districts participating in the federally funded National School Lunch Program.

The Clark County district in Nevada and the District of Columbia school system were the only two districts to receive failing grades in the report.

—Kevin Bushweller

Substance Abuse

The “2003 CASA National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse VIII: Teens and Parents,” is available from the The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Teenagers are more likely to smoke, get drunk, and use illegal drugs if they are stressed out, bored, or have large amounts of spending money, suggests a recent survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

The center, based at Columbia University, has conducted a survey on teenage substance abuse for eight years, but this is the first year that it examined the effects that stress, boredom, and spending money have on such abuse.

—Kevin Bushweller

Early-Childhood Math

“State Policies That Promote Early Childhood Mathematics,” is available from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Thirty-one of the 46 states that responded to a survey reported that they require preservice training in mathematics for teachers working with children ages 3 to 6, according to a report that examines state policies on math education for young children.

In addition, 24 of the 46 states have standards for what children should know or be able to do in the subject at the preschool level, says the report from the Washington-based National Association for the Education of Young Children.

—Linda Jacobson

Grading Schools

High school students are seeing gradual improvements in their schools, a survey of 1,055 students nationwide suggests.

“State of Our Nation’s Youth, 2003-2004,” is available for download from the Horatio Alger Association and requires free registration. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Schools received a 2.9 grade point average on a 4.0 scale from students who participated in the survey this year. A year ago, students gave schools an overall average of 2.7.

The survey, sponsored by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, also examined student opinions on a host of other matters, such as homework and testing.

—Kevin Bushweller

School Choice

The percentage of students exercising some form of school choice rose in the 1990s, and that increase was steepest among youngsters from the nation’s poorest families, a federal report says.

“Trends in the Use of School Choice: 1993 to 1999,” is available from the National Center for Education Statistics. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

While 83 percent of students from families with incomes of $10,000 or less attended their assigned public schools in 1993, that figure had dropped to 74 percent in 1999, according to the report from the National Center for Education Statistics. Among all students, the proportion fell from 80 percent to 76 percent over the same period.

—Caroline Hendrie

Florida Vouchers

Florida schools show greater test-score gains if they are directly affected by a state voucher program for students in failing public schools, researchers from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research conclude in a new study.

“When Schools Compete: The Effects of Vouchers on Florida Public School Achievement,” is available from the Manhattan Institute.

In the latest in a series of studies from the institute about Florida’s “A-Plus” accountability program, researchers Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters report that schools in which students are already eligible for private school vouchers—or will become so if their schools get another F grade from the state—raise scores faster on state and nationally normed tests than other Sunshine State schools as a whole do.

—Caroline Hendrie