September 2012 Reports

ACT tests and college enrollment
ACT’s latest Enrollment Management Trends Report says that the higher a student’s ACT scores are, the more likely the student is to begin testing in 11th grade, to enroll in a postsecondary institution far away from home or out of state, to enroll in a four-year institution vs. a two-year institution, and to enroll in their first-choice school. Beginning in September, ACT will append scores for five predictive modeling indices (mobility, institution type, selectivity, institution size, and interest/major fit) to every student’s score report sent to colleges, based on an analysis of their scores and personal preferences.

Children’s oral health
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children 6-18 years old. Forty percent of American children have caries in their baby teeth, and 25 percent of children ages 6-18 live with untreated cavities. A new policy brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Children and Oral Health, says that children with untreated dental problems miss more than 51 million hours of school each year, and that research indicates there is an association between poor oral health and poor performance at school.

Confidence reaches a new low
Only 29 percent of Americans responding to a recent Gallup poll of institutional confidence said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in our public schools. This figure is down 5 percentage points from just last year, and marks a new low point for this indicator, first measured by Gallup in 1973, when 58 percent of Americans said they had great confidence in public schools.

Funding and the opportunity gap
Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card from the Education Law Center and Rutgers Graduate School of Education finds that, while the national average for school funding is $10,774 per pupil (up $642 from 2010), the disparity in funding between states is more of a chasm -- students in Tennessee receive less than 40 percent of the funding a student in Wyoming receives. Most of the best-funded states are in the Northeast (with the exception of Wyoming and Alaska), while the lowest-funded states are in the South and the West.

Helping teens become learners
A research review by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners, says that students earn higher grades when they persevere and engage in strong academic behaviors such as coming to class and participating, completing assignments on time, studying and mastering the material, investing time in challenging work, and following a task through to completion. The review says these behaviors become increasingly important to success as students leave middle school and transition to high school and then to college.

LGBT youth in America
While 83 percent of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth surveyed for the Human Rights Campaign’s new report, Growing up LGBT in America, said they were confident they would be happy eventually, 63 percent said they would have to move away from their hometown to feel accepted. Seventy-five percent of LGBT youth say they are more honest about themselves online than in the real world. The second most likely place for LGBT youth to be out was at school with classmates. LGBT youth are still twice as likely as their cohorts to be excluded and verbally and physically bullied.

Restraint legislation
A recent survey of superintendents about seclusion and restraint practices in public schools across America shows that 97 percent of responding districts do not use mechanical restraints under any circumstances, 97 percent end the use of seclusion and restraint as soon as an emergency is over, 94 percent of districts continually monitor students who are in seclusion, and that 80 percent of district personnel trained in the use of seclusion and restraint also have been trained in the use of nonviolent intervention techniques. Survey results appear in the American Association of School Administrators’ study, Keeping Schools Safe.

Students don’t feel challenged
Results of a study from the Center for American Progress indicate that many American students do not feel challenged academically at school. Thirty-seven percent of surveyed fourth-graders said their math is too easy, as did 29 percent of eighth-graders. Less than 50 percent of 12th-graders said they are always or almost always learning new things in math class. The study, Do Schools Challenge our Students?, found that, on average, higher-income students receive greater access to more-challenging course content.

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.