December 2011 Reports

After-school programs work
A large majority of the superintendents participating in a recent survey about the benefits of out-of-school programs believe they are important (82 percent), can help improve kids’ social interaction skills (92 percent) and academic performance (93 percent), and can be useful in improving children’s math (95 percent) and reading skills (94 percent). Eighty-four percent of the superintendents surveyed for School Superintendent POV: A Study on Effective Use of Students’ Out-of-School Time say before- and after-school programs offer their teachers additional opportunities to interact and bond with students.

Brain injuries and sports
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that emergency room diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries among U.S. children ages 19 and younger increased 62 percent between 2001 and 2009. The diagnosis was most frequent among males ages 10 to 19. The CDC attributes the rise in diagnosis of brain injuries to both an increase in sports participation and a growing public awareness of the need for prompt medical attention. The report says that, whenever a head injury occurs while playing a game or sports, the victim should be removed from play, should never be returned to play the same day, and should only be returned to play after being evaluated and cleared for play by a health-care provider familiar with brain injuries.

Ed research enhanced
Hanover Research has acquired key assets of Educational Research Service (ERS). Hanover will supplement ERS’ services by providing its subscribers with customized education research, and plans to partner with school districts, state departments of education, and regional education agencies to collect and disseminate data and tailored research.

Grade inflation, ed majors
A report from the American Enterprise Institute, Grade Inflation for Education Majors and Low Standards for Teachers: When Everyone Makes the Grade, says that education undergraduates are twice as likely to get an A than business or liberal arts students. Research shows that education students consistently receive “exceptionally favorable” grades in all of their classes. The report says this phenomenon cannot be explained by differences in student quality or smaller class sizes among education majors, and probably is caused by lower grading standards.

Listening creates trust
Don’t Count Us Out, a new study from Public Agenda, reveals that, in the minds of the public, more information does not equal more trust. Results indicate that a media blitz of glossily presented facts and figures might actually make the public more distrustful. The study found that responsiveness of an organization can be more valuable than benchmarks. To the public, being able to find someone in an organization who listens respectfully to their ideas is an important dimension of accountability -- perhaps the most important one.

Middle-class schools failing
A report from Third Way, Incomplete: How Middle Class Schools Aren’t Making the Grade, says that, while 53 percent of public school students attend middle-class schools, those schools have been forgotten by the education debate. The report says that no one calls for their reform, yet three out of four middle-class high school graduates don’t receive their college degree, making them vulnerable to unemployment and decreasing their individual lifetime earnings by $1 million.

Superintendents’ job stress
A report from the UCLA Center discusses the issues superintendents see as roadblocks to their efforts to improve student achievement and public education. The report says that superintendents “live in a culture of conflict, insecurity, and uncertainty,” and that their job stress is increasing while their job satisfaction plummets. Superintendents list increased accountability and high-stakes testing, insufficient funding and unfunded mandates, and increased demands on their time as major stressors. The report, District Superintendents and the School Improvement Problem of Addressing Barriers to Learning, points out that, in a 2010 American Association of School Administrators’ study, only 51 percent of respondents still planned on being a superintendent in 2015.

Top students’ achievement
A new study finds that two in five students who are identified as high-performing (scoring at or above the 90th percentile on MAP assessments) in early grades lose that designation in just four years. Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude? found little connection between a school’s poverty level and the academic growth of its most able students, challenging the widely held belief that the best academic performances always will come from high-achievers attending wealthy, suburban schools.  

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.