June 2010 Reports

Early education http://earlyed.newamerica.net
The age of children entering public education should drop from 5 to 3, according to a new report from the New America Foundation. The report says that research shows as much as one-third to one-half of the achievement gap between black and white students exists before first grade. It recommends universal access to pre-kindergarten programs, universal full-day kindergarten, and a curriculum and standards aligned from pre-K through third grade to help close the gap.

ESEA primer www.americanprogress.org
The Obama administration’s “Blueprint for Reform” outlines its proposal for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind Act). A new primer from the Center for American Progress makes it easy to compare the Blueprint’s proposed revisions to state standards, measurements of student progress, school accountability, and teacher quality with the act’s current provisions.

Families http://pewsocialtrends.org
A record number of Americans live in multigenerational families, according to a new Pew research study. Fully 16 percent of the population now lives in a household containing at least two adult generations, the greatest number to lives in such households since 1940, when 25 percent of the population lived in extended family households. The study attributes the trend to the effects of the recession and to demographic changes such as delayed marriage, immigration, and greater longevity.

Federal food programs www.americanprogress.org
Federal school meals programs could be run even more efficiently if combined with 15 other federal nutrition assistance programs into one streamlined entitlement program. Currently, each of the federal nutrition programs has its own application procedures and eligibility requirements, creating bureaucracies and opening the door to fraud. This new report from the Center for American Progress describes the federal nutrition “safety net” as a confusing array of programs in desperate those of need of reform.

Immigration and child welfare www.firstfocus.net
Seventy-three percent of the children of undocumented immigrant parents are U.S. citizens, and many of them attend public schools. A new report from First Focus examines the impact of immigration enforcement on these children’s lives and the child welfare agencies serving them. The report recommends avoiding placing children in the child welfare system whenever possible: Detained or deported parents cannot participate in child welfare proceedings, creating a risk for the permanent separation of the child and parent.

Incarcerated Latino youth www.nclr.org
Latino youth face disproportionate incarceration rates when compared to those of whites and blacks, according to a new fact sheet from the National Council of La Raza. Latinos make up only 19 percent of America’s 10- to 17-year-olds, but comprise 25 percent of all incarcerated youth in the U.S. Moreover, the number of these youths in adult prisons rose from 12 to 20 percent from 2000 to 2008, while rates for black and white youth declined in the same period.

The opportunity gap www3.interscience.wiley.com
African-American boys enter school with less general knowledge of the world and less well-developed capacities for self-regulation and behavior, says a new study appearing in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Schools and communities respond to these difficulties with an ever-escalating system of sanctions that becomes a school-to-prison pipeline. Increasing access to high-quality early childhood education for young African-American boys and hiring teachers who understand the context from which their students come are keys to reform.

Student achievement www.brookings.edu
The gap between high- and low-achieving students has been shrinking in recent years, according to a recent analysis of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress by the Brown Center on Education Policy. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the same study, after reviewing 20 years of data from the California Assessment Program, found test scores to be virtually static despite reforms -- a clear demonstration of just how difficult school turnarounds can be.

Teaching as a career www.metlife.com
Six in 10 of all the teachers surveyed for MetLife’s Survey of the American Teacher describe themselves as very satisfied with teaching as a career, and 75 percent say they would like to continue working in education beyond traditional retirement. The survey finds that new teachers are particularly collaborative, and that many teachers are “career changers.” “Career changers” are more common among secondary school teachers (89 percent) and in low-income schools (82 percent).

Teens and alcohol http://oas.samhsa.gov
A state-by-state analysis of underage alcohol use finds that 27.6 percent of youths 12 to 20 surveyed drank alcohol in the last month. A new survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration finds that Utah has the lowest rate of underage drinking (13.7 percent), and Vermont and North Dakota have the highest (40 percent). Twenty percent of the youths in Louisiana and the District of Columbia bought alcohol themselves, compared to 9 percent nationally.

Teen birthrate www.cdc.gov
While preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the overall rate of childbearing by unmarried women increased to historic levels in 2008, the teen birth rate in the U.S. fell 2 percent -- to 41.5 per 1,000 -- between 2007 and 2008, reversing the trend of the last two years. The data also show that the birthrate for Hispanic teenagers has declined to 77.4 births per 1,000, an historic low.