April 2012 Reports

Assets and opportunity http://assetsandopportunity.org
Twenty-seven percent of all U.S. households are now asset poor, that is, lacking enough savings or assets to cover their basic expenses for even three months. Forty-four percent of households of color are asset poor as compared to 20 percent of white households. Fifty-six percent of America’s consumers have subprime credit scores, and only 47 percent of households of color own their homes, compared to 73 percent of white households. The 2012 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard from the Corporation for Enterprise Development reports that asset poverty is most prevalent in Nevada (45 percent) and lowest in Vermont (15.7 percent).

‘Crossover’ youth www.hiltonfoundation.org
Young Adult Outcomes of Youth Exiting Dependent or Delinquent Care in Los Angeles County, a study from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, found that 68 percent of foster care youth and 82 percent of “crossover” youth (youth who had been in both foster care and the juvenile justice system) received public welfare benefits in the first four years of their adulthood. Less than half of them had any earnings in early adulthood. Crossover youth served early adult jail terms three times more often than foster care youth.

High school exit exams www.cep-dc.org
The number of states administering high school exit exams has decreased for the first time in six years, but 27 of these 31 states are participating in developing common assessments with the two consortia tied to the Common Core State Standards, and 16 of these will replace their current exit exams with consortia assessments. The report, State High School Tests: Changes in State Policies and the Impact of the College and Career Readiness Movement, was published by the Center on Education Policy.

Kindergarten entrance ages www.ecs.org
Increasingly, states are supporting kindergarten admission cutoff dates of age 5 by September or earlier of the entrance year. This has been the trend over the past 35 years, and according to the Education Commission of the States’ report, Kindergarten Entrance Ages, only 12 states will not have a September cutoff date for the 2012-13 school year. Most states instituting a September kindergarten admission cutoff date chose September 1.

Science standards www.edexcellencemedia.net
A report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, The State of State Science Standards 2012, gives 75 percent of states’ science standards a grade of C or lower, with most receiving a D or an F. Only California and the District of Columbia received solid A averages, while Indiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Virginia received A-. The report cites four problem areas contributing to weak science standards: anti-evolutionary pressures that threaten to weaken standards, vague standards, an overemphasis on “inquiry-based learning,” and a lack of concentration on the mathematical concepts necessary to learn physics and chemistry.

Social well-being among tweens http://psycnet.apa.org
Eight- to 12-year-old (tween) participants in a study who multitasked for several hours with various digital devices reported experiencing difficulties with their social and emotional development. The analysis showed an association not only with media that are about interpersonal interaction (social media and phone), but also drew the association with video, music, and reading. The study found an especially strong link between video usage and a negative effect on social well-being. The study, Media Use, Face-to-Face Communication, Media Multitasking, and Social Well-Being Among 8- to 12-year-old Girls, was published by the American Psychological Association.

Sodium levels high www.cdc.gov
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publication, Where’s the Sodium?, reports that 90 percent of Americans eat 1,000 mg of sodium more than we need each day. Most of the 3,300 mg we eat comes from processed foods (65 percent), and many of these foods highest in sodium are school lunch program standbys. A single slice of pizza can have as many as 760 mg of sodium. A turkey breast sandwich has at least 610 mg, and perhaps as many as 1,150 mg of sodium, without condiments.

Teen pregnancy rates www.guttmacher.org
The U.S. teen pregnancy rate reached a 30-year low in 2008, down 42 percent overall from its peak in 1990, according to a report from the Guttmacher Institute. The pregnancy rate among very young teens (those younger than 15) fell even further, plummeting 62 percent from 1990-2008. U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008, also reports that the abortion rate among U.S. teenagers declined 33 percent from 1986 to 2008, and is now at its lowest rate since abortion was legalized in 1973.

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.