October 2010 Reports

Black boys and the race gap www.schottfoundation.org
Twice as many white boys as black boys are “Gifted and Talented,” while black boys are twice as likely to be classified as “Mentally Retarded.” Black boys receive out-of-school suspensions twice as often, and expulsion three times as often, as white boys. The Schott Foundation’s 2010 report on public education and black males, Yes We Can, says that school discipline disparities like these may account for the large number of black males who don’t graduate.

Charter school impacts http://ies.ed.gov
Evaluation of Charter School Impacts shows that, on average, 36 lottery-based charter middle schools performed the same as their traditional cohorts in raising math and reading test scores. Charter schools in urban areas, and those serving more low-income and low-achieving students, were more effective in improving math test scores than other charter schools in the study. Students and their parents had higher school satisfaction, but grade promotion, attendance, and student conduct were not improved.

Child well-being http://datacenter.kidscount.org/databook/2010/default.aspx
The latest KIDS COUNT Data Book shows that 1 million more children lived in poverty in 2008 than in 2000. But five areas of child well-being improved: infant, child, and teen death rates; teen birth rate; and percent of teens not in school. The percent of children living with one parent, low-birth weight babies, and rate of child poverty have all increased. Across indicators, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Vermont rank among the highest; Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi rank as the lowest.

Childhood obesity consequences http://aje.oxfordjournals.org
Results of a new study, Midlife Health and Socioeconomic Consequences of Persistent Overweight Across Early Adulthood, show that, compared with others in the study who had moderately increasing body mass index to age 35, those who were in the persistently overweight class from age 19 to 35 were more likely, at 40, to have a chronic health problem, to have no more than a high school diploma, and to be receiving welfare or unemployment compensation.

Children of immigrants www.urban.org
Half of all children of immigrants live with two foreign-born parents, and more than 60 percent of these children have at least one parent with limited English proficiency. Children of Immigrants: Family and Parental Characteristics, a recent report from the Urban Institute, also reveals that 25 percent of children of immigrants have parents that are not high school graduates, but they are also likely to live with both parents and in extended families. It also reported that 92 percent of immigrant families exhibit a high work effort.

Common standards http://epicpolicy.org
Little evidence supports the idea that national academic standards will actually improve public education, according to a new report. It also points out that school-based practitioners had little input in creating the standards, the standards have not been field tested, and it’s not clear whether tests used to judge their outcomes will be accurate enough to justify the standards’ high-stakes consequences. Read The “Common Core” Standard Initiative: An Effective Reform Tool? for more information.

Common standards rigor http://edexcellence.net
Are Common Core standards invariably more rigorous? The State of State Standards and the Common Core in 2010 says that, for some states, it’s “too close to call,” and English standards used in California, Indiana, and the District of Columbia are actually superior. But Common Core standards are stronger than English standards in 37 states and math standards in 39 states, and no state currently uses mathematics standards superior to those in the Common Core.

Home visits www.childtrends.org
A new report from ChildTrends, What Works for Home Visiting Programs, finds that high-intensity programs averaging four or more visits a month for more than a year produced positive outcomes for children in early childhood (0-3); weekly home visits conducted by trained nonprofessionals produced mixed results for preschoolers (4-5); teaching parenting skills during home visits had a positive impact for middle childhood (6-11); and visits from trained nonprofessionals for one year or longer worked best for adolescents (12-17).

Homeless children www.firstfocus.net
The number of homeless children in public schools has increased by 41 percent over the past two years, according to a new First Focus report, A Critical Moment. A state-by-state breakdown of data shows the number of homeless students increasing between the 2006-07 and 2008-09 school years in 42 states and the District of Columbia, with Texas showing an increase of 139 percent, Iowa an increase of 136 percent, and New Mexico an increase of 91 percent.

Kids’ Share 2010 www.brookings.edu
A new report from the Brookings Institute, Kids’ Share 2010: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children Through 2009, shows that, while the stimulus spurred spending on children in 2009, kids’ actual share of the federal budget fell --  from 9.8 percent in 2008 to 9.5 percent, with spending on many children’s programs projected to peak in 2010. Children’s share of the federal tax expenditure budget declined, as well, from 9 to 8 percent between 2008 and 2009.

Largest public school districts http://nces.ed.gov
In 2007, the nation’s 100 largest school districts educated 22 percent of all public school students. California, Florida, and Texas were home to 45 of these districts. The 100 districts had a higher median pupil/teacher ratio (15.4 vs. 15.2), and larger average school enrollments (677 vs. 513), the majority of which were Black or Hispanic (63 percent). Read Characteristics of the 100 Largest Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts in the United States for more information.

Protecting children during disasters www.savethechildren.org
Save the Children’s National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters finds that 38 states and the District of Columbia failed to meet one or more of its four requirements for disaster preparedness: a plan for evacuating kids in child care; plans for reunifying families after a disaster; plans for children with special needs; and an evacuation plan for schools. Seven states --  Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, and Wyoming --  met none of the standards.

School leadership www.wallacefoundation.org
Rapid principal turnover has been shown to hurt student achievement, but while the principal is the main source of leadership in any school, in more successful schools the principal is not its only source. Learning from Leadership, a new report from the Wallace Foundation, states that higher-performing schools provide more opportunities to teacher teams, parents, and students for input, influence, and engagement. The report finds that principals lead most effectively when they work collaboratively with district personnel, other principals, and teachers.

School reform www.crpe.org
Economist William Baumol noted in the 1960s that, because labor-intensive services such as public schools compete with other sectors of the economy for workers and cannot reduce staff without reducing their output, their costs rise continually. This phenomenon is called Baumol’s Disease. A new white paper, Curing Baumol’s Disease, looks at ways in which other labor-intensive businesses have addressed the problem, and proposes a five-step agenda for curing it in public education.

Systemic reform www.aei.org
A new paper on school reform suggests that focusing on the success of single schools or on stand-alone reforms such as pay-for-performance when trying to increase student achievement does not contribute to comprehensive reform; piecemeal reform seldom works. The paper, Embracing System Reform: Lessons from Five Award-Winning School Districts, recommends setting clear curriculum goals, structured interventions for struggling students and teachers, and using data to monitor student progress as key parts of any reform effort. 

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, Editorial Assistant