March 2011 Reports

Charter school performance
A review of 203 studies examining charter school achievement, Measuring Charter Performance, finds that, “more often than not,” charter school students experience achievement gains similar to or greater than those experienced by students in traditional public schools. The review also found that those studies using the best data and research techniques showed charter students outperforming students in traditional public schools, and that there was evidence showing that the longer students are enrolled in a charter school, the greater their achievement gains compared to those of traditional public school students.

CHIP coverage
An annual survey of state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility rules, cost-sharing practices, and enrollment and renewal procedures found that 49 states, including the District of Columbia, did not lose ground in service improvements despite the recession. Holding Steady, Looking Ahead says that 14 states made additional improvements in enrollment and renewal procedures, and 13 states expanded eligibility for pregnant women and children -- but coverage for parents continues to lag behind.

Close or turn around?
Are Bad Schools Immortal?, a study of 2,025 low-performing charter and district schools, shows that those schools stubbornly resist significant change and don’t usually close when they fail to improve -- although poorly performing charter schools were slightly more likely to close than poorly performing district schools. The study found that, five years after the study began, 72 percent of the original low-performing charters were still alive -- and still performing poorly -- as were 80 percent of the low-performing district schools. Only 1 percent of the low-performing schools made dramatic improvement in academic performance over the course of the study, suggesting that it is easier to close a low-performing school than to turn one around.

Education poll
Most people blame parents for poor public schools. A recent poll conducted by The Associated Press and Stanford University finds that 68 percent of all respondents said parents deserve “a great deal” or “a lot” of blame for the problems facing this country’s public schools, followed by state education officials (65 percent). Only 35 percent of the respondents blamed teachers “a great deal” or “a lot.” Sixty-seven percent felt that, when it comes to education, the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world.

NAEP and the Common Core
On average, testing items on the eighth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are two to three years below the eighth-grade Common Core Standards. The average grade level of NAEP content for algebra is at the Common Core’s sixth-grade level, and the average level of NAEP number strand items is at the Common Core’s fifth-grade level. Eighty percent of all eighth-grade NAEP algebra items are below the Common Core’s eighth-grade level, as are 90 percent of NAEP number strand items. Read Part III of the Brown Center’s Report on American Education, NAEP and the Common Core State Standards for more information.

One in five applicants can’t enlist
About 20 percent of high school graduates applying to the military fail to meet minimum standards on its entrance exam, with young people of color far less likely to pass than white applicants, according to an Education Trust study. Hawaii had the highest ineligible rate (38.3 percent), followed closely by Mississippi (37.8 percent) and the District of Columbia (32.5 percent). Since the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery assesses wide-ranging occupational skills, low-scoring applicants are likely to find that they also cannot succeed in the civilian workforce.

Planning for college
There is no shortage of college aspirations among high school students; however, the support and resources students need to get to college are lacking. Hear Us Out, a new report from the Center for Youth Voice, finds that, while 68 percent of students surveyed planned to attend college right after graduation, almost a third of these (and 12 percent of seniors) had yet to speak with their high school counselor about college. Two-thirds of the students said the cost of college was their biggest hurdle, but 40 percent of them said they knew little or nothing about obtaining financial aid.

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant