Monthly Archives: June 2010

KIPP charter school students outperform their peers, study finds

The Washington Post reports:

Middle school students in the Knowledge Is Power Program, a charter school network with a major footprint in the District and other cities, significantly outperform their public school peers on reading and math tests, according to a new study.

But the report, from Mathematica Policy Research, to be made public Tuesday, is unlikely to resolve debate over what is behind the network’s success. Skeptics say that the program benefits from highly motivated parents seeking alternatives to ineffective public schools and that KIPP often winnows out students who don’t fit its program.

The report is available here (PDF) from Mathematica.

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Newsweek on the choice between schools and prisons

Newsweek reports:

The 11 percent that California is spending on corrections is higher than the national state average of 7 percent, and the Golden State’s university system is one of the most extensive in the country. So it may not be surprising that nowhere else in the country is the faceoff between prisons and higher education so stark. However, it is also true that 30 states have already slashed their higher-education budgets in response to recessionary pressure, and there’s every reason to think more cuts will be coming. (A recent report by the National Governors Association [NGA] predicts that states may not regain their fiscal footing until the end of the decade.)

Most states have a commission or committee looking for ways to reduce their budgets, and there’s not much maneuvering room, partly because of rising corrections and health-care costs. Those two, says John Thomasian, director of the NGA’s Center for Best Practices, are “sucking the wind out of any discretionary funding” states had. Most states spend most of their money on K–12 education, but that’s also the least popular place to cut, he says.

As a result, higher education is the budget item that ends up being particularly vulnerable. “When times are good, states put more money into it, because they know it’s their economic engine,” says Thomasian. “But there is no constitutional requirement to fund higher ed.” Governors and legislatures know that they can “let tuition make up the difference” so they treat their state colleges and universities as “a fiscal balance wheel,” acknowledges Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education.

Roy Freedle and the SAT: A decades-long saga

At the risk of reducing a very serious educational issue to a soap opera, this blog entry by the Washington Post’s Jay Mathews recounts an ongoing struggle by opposing camps, one that sees the SAT as inherently biased while the other side does not. Beyond the issue at hand, this illustrates how philosophy as much as empirical evidence comes into play in the development of educational policy.

Roy Freedle is 76 now, with a research psychologist’s innate patience. He knows that decades often pass before valid ideas take root. When the notion is as radical as his, that the SAT is racially biased, an even longer wait might be expected. But after 23 years the research he has done on the surprising reaction of black students to hard words versus easy words seems to be gaining new respectability.
Seven years ago, after being discouraged from investigating findings while working for the Educational Testing Service, Freedle published a paper in the Harvard Educational Review that won significant attention.
He was retired from ETS by then. As he expected, his former supervisors dismissed his conclusions. Researchers working for the College Board, which owns the SAT, said the test was not biased. But the then president of the University of California system, a cognitive psychologist named Richard C. Atkinson, was intrigued. He asked the director of research in his office to replicate Freedle’s study.
Now, in the latest issue of the Harvard Educational Review, the two scholars who took on that project have published a paper saying Freedle was right about a flaw in the SAT, even in its current form. They say “the SAT, a high-stakes test with significant consequences for the educational opportunities available to young people in the United States, favors one ethnic group over another.”

The Harvard Educational Review article is available here (subscription required).

Should college be about ‘education’ or ‘job training’ (or both)?

The New York Times reports:

The number of jobs requiring at least a two-year associate’s degree will outpace the number of people qualified to fill those positions by at least three million in 2018, according to a report being released Tuesday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The report makes clear that some education after high school is an increasing prerequisite for entry into the middle class. In 1970, for example, nearly three-quarters of those workers considered to be middle class had not gone beyond high school in their education; in 2007, that figure had dropped below 40 percent, according to the report…

The report further underscores a trend evident in recent years in reports of the Bureau of Labor Statistics: that sometimes a certificate in a particular trade, a two-year associate’s degree or just a few years of college may be as valuable — if not more so — to one’s career (and income) as a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree.

The report is available here from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Do early classes and too-little sleep contribute to teen auto accidents?

Discovery News, via MSNBC, reports:

When high schools start too early, sleep-deprived teenagers are more likely to crash their cars, suggests new research.

The study [compared] accident rates among teenagers in two adjacent counties in Virginia — one with schools that started extra early and one that started at a reasonable hour…

The finding also adds to a growing body of evidence that later start times can help adolescents earn better grades, get along better with their peers, gain control over their emotions, steer clear of drugs, avoid depression and even lower their risk of suicide.

The American Psychological Association has more information on teens and sleep deprivation at their Web site.

Students with more in-school friends earn better grades, study finds

Science Daily reports:

[Researchers] Andrew J. Fuligni [and] Melissa R. Witkow [found] that adolescents with more in-school friends than out-of-school friends had higher grade-point averages and — complementing this finding — that those with higher GPAs had more in-school friends.

The authors found that these associations were similar for boys and girls and cut across all ethnic groups.

The article is available here (subscription required).

Centers for Disease Control release new survey report on teens

TIME reports:

[A report] by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released June 2, surveyed 2,800 teenage boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 19 on sex, their use of contraceptives and thoughts on pregnancy. Researchers found that while the number of teens having sex is still significantly lower than in decades past, their attitudes toward getting pregnant (or getting their partner pregnant) are more lax.

  • One in five teenage girls who had had sex said they would be pleased if they got pregnant; one in four teenage boys who had had sex said they would be pleased if their partner got pregnant
  • 64% of boys said it is OK for an unmarried woman to have a child (up from 50% in 2002); 71% of girls agree (up from 65% in 2002)
  • 26% of females and 29% of males have had two of more partners
  • 98% of teens have used birth control at least once; condoms are the most popular choice

The report is available for download here (PDF).