November 2012 Reports

College degree means most in U.S.
Education at a Glance 2012, a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), shows the U.S. lagging on most education indicators. Our high school graduation rate of 77 percent ranks 22nd of 27 countries measured. Only 69 percent of our 4-year-olds are in school, compared to OECD’s average of 81 percent. We pay our teachers significantly less than other countries do, and our teachers work longer hours, it seems. The children of our less-educated parents have dismal prospects for completing college. But education pays off in the U.S. more than in any other OECD country. Our college graduates earn $19,000 more each year than their high school-educated cohorts -- the OECD average is $8,900.

Early grades retention
Retaining students is a costly educational intervention: The cost of retaining 2.3 percent of America’s students exceeds $12 billion annually. But children retained in the early grades perform at higher levels than their promoted cohorts for several years after retention, and they are less likely to be retained subsequently, according to a report from the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, Is Retaining Students in the Early Grades Self-Defeating? The report also says that the disappointing outcomes so often reported for retained students may merely reflect the reasons they were retained, rather than the consequences of being retained.

Education technology
A poll by the Lead Commission finds that 89 percent of teachers and 76 percent of parents would rather spend $200 per student for a device with an Internet connection than on new science books. Ninety-five percent of teachers and 90 percent of parents polled say that having high-speed Internet access at home gives students a big or at least moderate advantage in schoolwork. Ninety-six percent of teachers and 92 percent of parents believe that it is important to integrate technology into teaching and learning, but 61 percent of teachers and 63 percent of parents feel that the U.S. is behind the curve in accomplishing this.

Gay and transgender youth
A report from the Center for American Progress, The Unfair Criminalization of Gay and Transgender Youth, says that most gay and transgender youth end up in the juvenile justice system when family rejection and failed social safety nets leave them homeless -- the greatest predictor of involvement with that system. While gay and transgender youth comprise 5 percent to 7 percent of the youth population, they comprise 40 percent of the homeless youth population. Without someone to claim them, homeless youth, once arrested or detained, languish indefinitely in detention centers alongside youth convicted of crimes.

Special education boost
A report from the Thomas Fordham Institute, Boosting the Quality and Efficiency of Special Education, finds that when it comes to special education, more money does not necessarily mean improved achievement. According to the report, some districts that spend less than the average on special education are posting the greatest gains in achievement, and if all districts just spent the median amount on special education, $10 billion a year would be saved.

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.