Capital Digest

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A record number of students--more than 5.9 million--participated in the Chapter 1 compensatory-education program in the 1991-92 school year, the Education Department recently reported.

While 400,000 more students received services than in the previous school year, the number of eligible students also rose. About 61 percent of eligible public school students were served in 1991-92, compared with 62 percent in 1990-91.

As in prior years, the data indicated that students' test scores improved as a result of participation in the program--but not nearly enough to close the gap between Chapter 1 students and their peers.

Chapter 1 reading students nationally ranked in the 19th percentile on tests given in the previous year and in the 24th percentile on post-tests. The average national score in math rose from the 22nd percentile to the 29th.

Moreover, 22 percent of Chapter 1 schools were included in the "program improvement" process in 1991-92. Schools are targeted when Chapter 1 students' average test scores fail to improve over the course of a year, or actually decline. Schools can be included in the process for more than one year.

In the 1990-91 school year, 19 percent of Chapter 1 schools were undergoing program improvement.

A companion report on the Chapter 1 migrant-education program noted that participation increased 22 percent between the 1990-91 and 1991-92 school years, from 437,363 to 531,841 students.

Free copies of the reports are available from the Office of Planning and Evaluation, 600 Independence Ave., S.W., Room 4162, Washington, D.C. 20202; (202) 401-0590.

S.S.I. Expands

The number of children receiving disability benefits under the Supplemental Security Income program more than doubled from 1989 to 1993, to more than 770,000, a new General Accounting Office report concludes.

Benefits for mental impairments, such as retardation and attention-deficit disorder, account for two-thirds of the growth in S.S.I. awards to children.

Some of the growth is attributed to a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision that forced a loosening of disability criteria for children.

Families can receive cash benefits of up to $446 a month, and observers have charged that some parents "coach" children to behave in certain ways in order to qualify. A G.A.O. study on that issue is due this fall.

Copies of the report--number HEHS-94-225--are free from the G.A.O., P.O. Box 6015, Gaithersburg, MD, 20884-6015.

Vol. 14, Issue 03

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