October 2011 Reports

Belt-tightening redux www.cep-dc.org
School districts can expect their budgets to tighten even more in the coming school year, according to Strained Schools Face Bleak Future, a new report on the fiscal condition of public school districts from the Center on Education Policy. The report says 70 percent of all districts experienced funding cuts in the 2010-11 school year, and about 84 percent of districts expect to see further cuts in the 2011-12 school year. Sixty-one percent of these districts reported that they anticipate cutting staff. Sixty-six percent of districts with budget shortfalls in 2010-11 postponed or stopped reform initiatives.

Community colleges http://advocacy.collegeboard.org
Nearly 44 percent of all U.S. undergraduates are enrolled in community colleges, and 50 percent to 80 percent of these will try to transfer to a four-year institution and earn a bachelor’s degree. Improving Student Transfer from Community Colleges to Four-Year Institutions, a report from the College Board, recommends that four-year institutions receiving these students focus on: institutional leadership and commitment to the transfer pathway; outreach and preparation for staff and students; financial aid options; admission and enrollment ease of use; and student and academic affairs engagement.

Find your stats here http://icw.uschamber.com
The National Chamber Foundation and the Institute for a Competitive Workforce have launched an interactive map comparing states’ performance within nine K-12 education categories: standards, graduation rates, data systems, achievement gaps, charter school laws, student achievement, return on investment, teacher policies, and Race to the Top participation.

Graduate rates stagnant www.clasp.org
A new report from the Center for Law and Social Policy, Not Just Kid Stuff Anymore, projects that there will be no growth in the number of U.S. high school graduates over the next decade, and that some states will actually see an 18 percent to 20 percent decline in the number of their graduates. The report includes state-by-state projections of high school graduate numbers through 2020. The greatest declines in graduate numbers will occur in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, and Ohio.

Grandparent support www.metlife.com
The new MetLife Report on American Grandparents says that 63 percent of American grandparents have given money or financial assistance to their grandchildren 25 years old or younger in the last five years, and 26 percent have increased their level of financial assistance in response to the current recession. The total amount of assistance received is usually below $5,000. Financial assistance is most often given in the form of cash (83 percent), followed by gifts (33 percent) such as a computer, car, or furniture.

Knowledge tests www.all4ed.org
A new brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education calls for the design of new assessments capable of measuring whether students are able to think critically, work in teams with peers, solve problems, and possess other skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century. The brief, Assessing Deeper Learning, says that technology -- which can create simulations and provide almost instantaneous feedback on assessments -- will be a key factor in the development of the new assessments and can lower their cost.

Late talkers http://pediatrics.aappublications.org
A study of late talkers -- toddlers who scored at or below the 15th percentile on the Language Development Survey for their gender -- participating in the Western Australian Cohort Study shows no link between late talking and later development of behavioral and emotional disturbances. The study, Late Talking and the Risk for Psychosocial Problems During Childhood and Adolescence, was published in Pediatrics.

More learning time www.timeandlearning.org
The number of U.S. schools increasing learning time continues to rise. A report from the National Center on Time and Learning, Learning Time in America, reviews many of the innovations schools have made to increase learning times for their students. It makes recommendations to policymakers based on three principles that lead to success: align resources with the diverse needs of students; highlight what works; and incentivize innovation.

NAEP geography 2010 http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard
The latest NAEP results show that students made progress in geography at grade four, but not at grades eight and 12, when compared to earlier assessments taken in 1994 and 2001. Although there was no increase in overall scores at grades eight and 12, scores for students performing at the 10th percentile were higher in 2010 than in 1994 for all three grades. About 25 percent of students at all three grade levels performed at or above the “proficient” level (indicating solid academic performance) in the new assessment.

Recession hurts kids www.aecf.org
The KIDS Count Data Book from The Annie E. Casey Foundation says that, in 2010, 11 percent of U.S. children had at least one parent seeking employment -- double the number in 2007. The child poverty rate increased 18 percent between 2000 and 2009. Five key measures of child well-being have improved, however; the infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen death rate, teen birth rate, and the percentage of teens not in school and not high school graduates have all decreased.

Technology and digital learning www.all4ed.org
Digital Learning and Technology, a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, makes five recommendations for federal policy changes that will help education “seize the moment” to maximize technology and digital learning to raise student achievement. The report also says that technology can be used to assist with the implementation of the common core state standards by helping state and district efforts to develop content, assessments, and instructional and professional development strategies.

Texas suspension rates http://justicecenter.csg.org
A study of Texas public secondary school students reveals that almost 60 percent of them have been suspended or expelled. Of the 15 percent of those suspended or expelled 11 times or more, almost 50 percent ended up involved in the juvenile justice system. According to Breaking Schools’ Rules, a report from the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, only 3 percent of these disciplinary actions were state mandated; 97 percent of the suspensions and expulsions occurred at the discretion of school officials.

Undereducated Americans http://cew.georgetown.edu
A report from the Center on Education and the Workforce, The Undereducated American, says that a lack of college-educated workers that began in 1990 has allowed income inequality in the U.S. to grow precipitously. While the demand for college-educated workers is growing at a rate of 2 percent a year, the supply of such workers is lagging behind, only growing at 1.5 percent a year. The report predicts that, if we continue to under-produce college-educated workers at this same rate, the earnings’ disparity between those holding a bachelor’s degree and those holding only a high school diploma will reach 96 percent by 2025.

U.S. teachers, 2011 www.ncei.com
Profile of Teachers in the U.S. 2011, from the National Center for Education Information, says that 33 percent of the first-time teachers hired since 2005 came to teaching along a pathway other than a four-year teacher education program. Twenty-two percent of the teachers surveyed in 2011 were under 30 years old, compared to 11 percent in 2005. More than 50 percent of public school teachers have a master’s degree or better. Eighty-four percent of public school teachers are female. 

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.