June 2012 Reports

From the arts to texting teens

Arts and at-risk students www.nea.gov
A report from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies, finds that at-risk students in the lowest socioeconomic quartile who engage in the arts in some capacity have better academic outcomes, more civic engagement, and better workforce opportunities. The at-risk students studied were engaged in arts activities ranging from band and theater to out-of-school art lessons and coursework in visual art, music, dance, or theater. These students were more likely than their peers to finish a high school calculus course (33 percent versus 23 percent), three times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree (17 percent versus five percent), and twice or as much as three times as likely to participate in sports.

Arts in school http://nces.ed.gov
Recent data on arts education released by the National Center for Education Statistics show that, for the 2009-10 school year, 94 percent of U.S. elementary schools provided music instruction to students, and 83 percent provided instruction in visual arts. Only 3 percent offered instruction in dance, and only 4 percent offered classes in drama or theater arts. Fifty-seven percent of all secondary schools required students to take arts courses of some kind before graduating.

Autism www.cdc.gov
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders -- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008, estimates that in 2008 one in every 88 American 8-year-olds suffered from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) -- one in every 54 males, and one in every 252 females. Alabama had the lowest prevalence of ASD in the study (4.8 per 1,000), while Utah had the highest incidence (21.2 per 1,000). ASD was most prevalent among non-Hispanic white children.

Charter school administration www.ncspe.org
A report from the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, based on expenditure data from Michigan’s 265 charter schools, finds that charter schools spend almost $800 more per pupil per year on administration than do traditional public schools, and $1,100 less on instruction. The report, Is Administration Leaner in Charter Schools?, says that charters operated by for-profit firms spend an additional $312 more per pupil per year on administration than other charters, further reducing the money available to these charters for instruction.

College match intervention www.mdrc.org
Each year, academically capable minority and low-income graduates “undermatch” with nonselective four-year colleges with low graduation rates, or two-year colleges with graduation rates that are even lower. Sixty percent of students whose family incomes are in the lowest quartile enroll in colleges for which they are overqualified, and 64 percent of students whose parents did not attend college do the same. A policy brief, Make Me a Match, describes how MDRC worked with Chicago Public Schools to help these students make good college choices.

Graduate nation www.americaspromise.org
Since 2008-09 the nation’s graduation rate has risen to 75.5 percent. Wisconsin has become the first state in the nation to reach the Civic Marshall Plan goal of a 90 percent graduation rate, and Vermont is right behind with a graduation rate of 89.6 percent. According to Building a Grad Nation, a report from the America’s Promise Alliance, the number of dropout-factory high schools -- schools that fail to graduate more than 60 percent of their student on time -- declined by 23 percent from 2002-10.

Preschools funding cuts www.nieer.org
The State Preschool Yearbook from The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), The State of Preschool 2011, reports that total state funding for pre-k programs fell by $60 million in 2011. While state per-child spending for pre-k dropped to $4,151, enrollment in state preschools increased by 30,818 children. Only 20 percent of children enrolled in state preschools attend programs that meet all ten of NIEER’s benchmarks for quality standards; 43 percent of children are in programs that meet fewer than five.

Red meat and mortality http://archinte.ama-assn.org
A study of 120,000 men and women shows that an increase in red meat consumption of one serving per day elevated participants’ risk of total mortality by 12 percent for all red meat, and by 20 percent for processed red meat. Consumption of bacon and hot dogs -- a public school lunchroom staple -- posed the highest risk. The study also found that men and women in the study with higher intakes of red meat were more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and have higher body mass indices. The results, “Red Meat Consumption and Mortality,” were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Reform and national security www.cfr.org
A report from the Council on Foreign Relations says that national educational outcomes are disheartening, and that our students’ inability to compete in the global economy threatens our leadership role. The report, U.S. Education Reform and National Security, makes three overarching policy recommendations: expand educational expectations and assessments in subjects vital to safeguarding national security; change educational structure to provide students with good choices; and launch a national security readiness audit, the results of which should be publicized.

Social rank and health www.pnas.org
A study of 10 social groups of female monkeys suggests that social status drives immune health. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Social Environment Is Associated with Gene Regulatory Variation in the Rhesus Macaque Immune System,” study results found that low social status led to changes to the immune system at the molecular level that negatively affect health. While the study results clearly show the potential health costs of low social status, it also appears that these effects are plastic: Positive changes in the monkeys’ social status reversed physiological damage.

Teen birth rate low www.cdc.gov
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the U.S. teen birth rate reached an historic low in 2010, dropping 9 percent from 2009 to 2010 to 34.3 births per 1000 women aged 15-19 -- the lowest rate in 70 years. The teen birth rate peaked in 1957 at 96.3. Data in the National Center for Health Statistics brief, Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups, indicate that current U.S. teen birth rates are highest in the South and the Southwest, and lowest in the Upper Midwest and the Northeast.

Texting among teens www.pewinternet.org
The median number of texts sent per day by teens is now 60. A new report from Pew Internet, Teens, Smartphones & Texting, finds that older girls send the most texts -- 100 each day. Older boys send 50. Sixty-three percent of all teens send text messages every day, surpassing all other forms of daily communication. A third of teens never talk to friends on a landline telephone. Only 26 percent of the 77 percent of teens who own cell phones use them to connect with friends. Of these, 23 percent own smartphones. 

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.