November 2009 Reports

Achievement gap
Data collected by the Oregon Department of Education show an early and persistent achievement gap between that state’s Hispanic and white students, which appears by the third grade and remains fairly consistent throughout students’ school careers. A new study of this data from The Chalkboard Project, The Hispanic-White Achievement Gap in Oregon, indicates that Oregon’s Hispanic students are twice as likely to be economically disadvantaged and tend to start school far behind their white peers. On the bright side, data also indicate that English as a Second Language programs may have accelerated student learning for those students enrolled.

“As ... findings show, the best economic stimulus is a high school diploma,” says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education. The Alliance’s new brief, The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools, reports that the average annual income for a high school dropout in 2005 was $17,299 -- $9,634 less than the average annual income of $26,933 for high school graduates. The cumulative negative effect of dropouts on the U.S. economy is significant. If the high school students who dropped out of the class of 2009 had graduated, they would have contributed to the economy an additional $335 billion in earned income over their lifetimes.

Early childhood education 
Research shows that children who engage in complex, dramatic play develop more empathy, imagination, stronger language and social skills, and higher levels of thinking than children who don’t play, according to the Alliance for Childhood’s new report, Crisis in the Kindergarten: A New Report on the Disappearance of Play. Many kindergartners spend two to three hours per day in literacy and math instruction, with only 30 minutes or less for play, a method that is not yielding long-term gains for young students.

Education management organizations 
A new study of education management organizations (EMOs), the private firms that manage charter schools or public schools under contract, reveals very little growth in the for-profit public school management industry. Profiles of For-Profit Education Management Organizations, produced by the Commercialism in Education and Education Policy Research units at Arizona State University, shows many larger EMOs expanding into supplemental education services.

Growing your own principals 
New York City established its Leadership Academy’s Aspiring Principals Program (APP) in 2003 to train and develop its own school leaders. Graduates of APP are currently responsible for 15 percent of New York City’s public schools. A new report from the Institute for Education and Social Policy at New York University, The New York City Aspiring Principals Program: A School-Level Evaluation, is the first systematic comparison of APP graduate-led schools with comparable schools led by other new principals.

Immigrant students
The Urban Institute’s comprehensive Children of Immigrants Data Tool allows users to create custom charts from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data. National and state-by-state statistics are available on 21 features, including child and parent citizenship and immigrant status; parent education and English proficiency; child race, ethnicity, and school enrollment; and family composition, income, and work effort.

Nutrition (“Healthy Tools to Help All Schools”), a project of the Food, Family, Farming Foundation, offers 80 scalable recipes; nutritional and cost analyses; budget, inventory, and procurement models and templates; food safety, handling, and hazard analysis; critical control points tools and counsel; and training videos to school nutrition officials, free of charge.

Online learning
A report from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) finds that online learning is more effective than face-to-face instruction. The DOE’s report, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, shows that average students who took some or all of a course online tended to perform in the 59th percentile. Average classroom-based students tended to score in the 50th percentile.

School safety
Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools, a preliminary look at findings from the National Center for Education Statistics’ School Survey on Crime and Safety for school year 2007-08, shows 48 percent of schools reporting at least one student threat of physical attack. The highest rate of violence occurred in middle schools. The lowest rate of violence occurred in high schools. The rate of violence in America’s middle schools is twice as high as in its high schools.

STEM learning opportunity
The Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision Awards Program is now accepting entries for its 2010 program. ExploraVision challenges teams of two to four students to design innovative technologies that could exist 20 years in the future, stimulating them to research scientific principles and current technologies. Students on four first-place teams will each receive a $10,000 U.S. Series EE Savings Bond. Students on the four second-place teams will each receive a $5,000 bond. All of the winners, their families, mentors, and coaches will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in June 2010 for a gala awards weekend.

Student achievement
Pressure on community colleges to provide postsecondary education to the most diverse and least prepared sector of America’s population continues to grow, as does pressure on these institutions to have students complete their program of study. But, since not every student enrolls in community college intending to complete a formal program of study, how can community college “completion” be measured? A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics, On Track to Complete? A Taxonomy of Beginning Community College Students and Their Outcomes 3 Years After Enrolling: 2003-04 Through 2006, proposes a classification scheme to help measure completion, based on how “directed” students are toward completing a program of study.

Teacher layoffs in Los Angeles Unified School District
The recent massive teacher layoff in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will disproportionately affect low-income students and students of color, according to the Council of Youth Research’s report, Sharing the Burden? The Impact of Proposed Teacher Layoffs Across LAUSD. The Council, sponsored by the University of California-Los Angeles’ Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access, concluded that, because LAUSD will use teacher seniority as the primary criteria for teacher dismissal, and because more than 20 percent of LAUSD’s first- and second-year teachers are assigned to high-poverty, high-minority schools, teacher layoffs will be unevenly distributed, with low-income, high-minority schools being hit the hardest.

Teen pregnancy
Child Trends’ Facts at a Glance: A Fact Sheet Reporting National, State, and City Trends in Teen Childbearing, an analysis of data from the National Center for Health Statistics, shows that the U.S. teen birth rate increased in 2007, for the second year in a row. The rate for 2007 of 42.5 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 was 1 percent higher than the rate reported in 2006, and 5 percent higher than the rate reported in 2005. The U.S. has the highest teen birth rate of any developed nation.

Uninsured children and poverty
The U.S Census Bureau has announced that the U.S. real median household income fell 3.6 percent between 2007 and 2008, and now stands at $50,303. The official poverty rate rose 1 percent in 2008, and is now at 13.2 percent. The good news is that the number of uninsured children declined to 9.9 percent in 2008, the lowest number of uninsured children since 1987. But children living in poverty remain more likely to be uninsured than other children. To learn more about these statistics, read the Bureau’s report, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008.