April ERR #8

Schools Slipping Back to Segregation, New Book Finds

Urban school districts across the country have shifted back to managing segregated schools following the recent lifting of court-ordered desgregation plans, a new book finds.

The book, "From the Courtroom to the Classroom: The Shifting Landscape of School Desegregation," was edited by Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development faculty Claire Smrekar and Ellen Goldring and published by Harvard University Press.

"As the return to neighborhood schools accelerates, schools resegregate, and magnet programs assume new roles, this book provides timely information on critical social and academic outcomes for children," Smrekar said.

School desegregation, once a central piece of social and educational policy, has been ended by an increasing number of federal courts in recent years in urban school districts. When desegration polices are removed, schools are designated as "unitary," which means they are expected to implement a variety of policies focusing on school improvement, school choice and neighborhood schools, among other alternatives. Racial balancing of schools is no longer a priority.

"The significance of this book is rooted in the need for a better understanding of new policies on race and schools, the social and political context of choice, and the consequences of these reform strategies for school systems in urban America and for the lives of educators, students and their families," Goldring said.

The book comes on the heels of the June 28, 2007, U.S. Supreme Court decision (Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Crystal D. Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education) that limits the use of race in student assignment and school choice plans.

The book focuses on four key objectives:

- Identify a set of important trends in the socio-demographic composition of schools following the end of court-ordered desegregation. How have districts responded to the end of court-ordered desegregation plans in terms of student and staff assignment? What priorities drive the new district policies on racial and socio-economic desegregation and student assignment? How will the PICS opinion shape district policies in the future?

- Explore the implications of new policies on race and school choice across multiple levels and contexts, including classroom and school, and at school district and national levels. What do patterns of achievement among white, African American and Latino students suggest regarding the impact of these new policies?

- Scrutinize the conditions in school districts that served as landmark legal cases in the march toward desegregation in the United States. What is the impact of new student assignment plans on racial and socio-economic segregation/integration patterns in these historically significant districts?

- Examine the aftermath of desegregation, including both social and academic outcomes, against the growing evidence of resegregation across urban school districts in the United States. Does race matter? What is the role of expanded school choice programs (e.g., magnet schools) under these conditions?

"This book makes compelling the need to connect the imperatives of new policies on race and schooling to the practices of educational leaders facing the demands of diversity, equity, choice and excellence for all students. Student assignment policies represent some of the most complex and controversial decisions made by local school boards across the country," Smrekar, associate professor of public policy and education, and Goldring, professor of educational policy and leadership, said. "It is our hope that this data may provide essential guideposts for districts considering the consequences of unitary status under the more restrictive new legal constraints regarding the use of race. This book is designed to highlight the short- and long-term implications of these decisions for schoolchildren, their families and communities."

Study finds college students better prepared

Freshmen entering California State University, Sacramento, are better prepared to tackle college-level work than they were in 2004, suggesting that a five-year-old statewide program to assess college readiness among high school juniors is paying off.

Those are the conclusions of a new study of California's Early Assessment Program by Michal Kurlaender, an assistant professor of education at UC Davis, and researchers at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) and the University of Minnesota. The study will be presented on Friday, April 17, at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Diego.

Kurlaender and her co-investigators found a 6-percentage point drop since 2004 in the number of entering Sacramento State freshmen who need remedial English, and a 4-percentage point drop in those who need extra classes in math.

Across the 23-campus CSU system, a decline of this magnitude would equal about 2,000 fewer students in remedial math and 3,000 fewer in remedial English courses, a substantial reduction.

At Sacramento State, the decline did not appear to be due to an increase in the number of unprepared students who opted not to apply to college, the researchers report.

"This is perhaps the best part of the story: Students and high schools appear to be using the information from the Early Assessment Program to act in the senior year of high school," Kurlaender said.

Historically, more than 60 percent of the nearly 40,000 first-time freshmen admitted to the CSU system each year have needed remedial classes in English, math, or both -- even though all admitted students have taken CSU-required courses and earned at least a "B" grade point average in high school.

To address the problem, the State Board of Education, California Department of Education and California State University instituted an Early Assessment Program in 2004 to offer high school juniors additional information about their college readiness in English and mathematics, with a goal of identifying gaps in time for students to work on them in their senior year.

"The Early Assessment Program is a really important and novel educational intervention because it provides students with information and empowers them to better prepare themselves for success in college," Kurlaender said.

Absenteeism of Asthmatic Children Is No Different than That of Their Non-Asthmatic Peers

With proper management and registered nurses on campus, the school absenteeism rate for children with asthma can be reduced to that of non-asthmatic children, according to a new study published in the journal CHEST, the official publication of the American College of Chest Physicians. The study, conducted through the Baylor Martha Foster Lung Care Center at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas and the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), found that the rate of absenteeism between children with and without asthma symptoms has improved such that they are nearly indistinguishable.

Lead author and medical director of the Baylor Lung Care Center Mark Millard, M.D., says the implications of the study are far-reaching.

“We all know the devastating effect of untreated asthma on both academic and athletic performance, but our data suggests that the tide has turned, and with proper supervision and management, the impact of asthma can be minimized,” said Millard. “Parents should expect that their child with asthma should be able to compete with the same degree of success as non-asthmatic peers, with current asthma medications.”

Asthma and Attendance

The study is a result of an extensive survey of students in 17 of the DISD’s more than 200 schools. Students were studied with questionnaires and asthma challenge tests to definitively identify this common medical condition, and attendance rates of these students were compared with those of non-asthmatic students.

No statistical difference was discovered between attendance rates of the groups of asthmatic students identified with that of their classmates.

School Registered Nurses Play Critical Role

Baylor Dallas has been partnering with the DISD since 1991 to improve school-based monitoring of children with asthma. One of the hospital’s first interventions was to provide peak flow meters for all DISD schools for monitoring and assessing the severity of asthma symptoms. Using Baylor’s work with the DISD as a model, the American Association of Respiratory Care created the national Peak Performance USA program, which provided peak flow meters for every school in the country, upon request.

Almost all of the schools in the DISD have registered nurses on campus, and Baylor has helped these nurses learn about new medications and therapies for controlling asthma. Millard says the supervision of the school nurses plays a critical role in decreasing absenteeism of children with asthma.

“Even children with more obvious symptoms that were identified by school RNs before the screening missed no more school than the others, suggesting that the nurses are properly identifying asthmatic children and working with parents and primary care providers in achieving good asthma control,” he said.

Anna Hilton, R.N., who had been the nurse director of the asthma management program for the DISD prior to joining the Baylor team for this project agrees.

“Having RNs on campus to identify and help primary care providers to properly manage children with asthma makes all the difference between a child missing critical educational time and a child able to learn and participate,” she said.

Keeping Kids in Class

Results of the study point to the value of school nurses in helping children control their asthma and stay in class.

“Any child in any school district can achieve good asthma control, if there is access to the right medications and oversight,” said Millard. “A well-trained and empowered school registered nurse may be the best solution to deal with the problem of uncontrolled asthma in children.”
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ERR #7

Study shows simple writing assignment improves minority student grades

In a follow-up to a 2006 study, a University of Colorado at Boulder researcher and his colleagues found that an in-class writing assignment designed to reinforce students' sense of identity and personal integrity increased the grade-point averages of African-American middle school students over a two-year period, and reduced the rate at which these students were held back or placed in remediation.

The results suggest that targeted psychological interventions on a wider scale could help narrow the racial achievement gap among U.S. students, one of the most pressing and persistent domestic issues in our country, according to Associate Professor Geoffrey Cohen of CU-Boulder's psychology department and his fellow principal investigators Julio Garcia and Valerie Purdie-Vaughns of Columbia University.

The follow-up study appears in the April 16 issue of the journal Science. Nancy Apfel and Patricia Brzustoski of Yale University were co-authors on the study.

"In our original study we uncovered evidence that this self-affirming intervention improved the performance of African-Americans in a single academic term," Cohen said. "Now we have evidence that its effects persist over the two years of children's tenure in middle school."

The study also suggests that "intervening" early in students' middle school years can have long-lasting benefits by undermining a recurring cycle of increasingly poor performance in school.

Over the two years of the 2006-08 study, the grade-point average of African-Americans was, on average, raised by .24 grade points. Low-achieving African Americans benefited most from the intervention, with their GPAs increasing by an average of .41 points on a four-point scale. The assignment had no impact on white students' grades.

"Our intervention is based on the idea that ethnic minority students experience, on average, higher levels of stress in the classroom because they are concerned that if they perform poorly on a test or in a class this will confirm, in the eyes of others, the negative stereotype about their group's intelligence ability," Cohen said.

Past research has found that school settings in general are stressful to many students regardless of race. However, many African-American students may experience chronic stress in school stemming from negative stereotypes portraying them as less intelligent than their peers, according to Cohen. This in turn leads to decreased academic performance.

The study involved three experiments in which seventh graders from middle-class and lower middle-class families were given a series of structured writing assignments throughout the year. They were asked to choose one or two values that were important to them and then write about why they cherished the values. A control group was asked to write about values that others might hold or other neutral topics. A total of 416 students participated, divided in roughly equal numbers by race.

"This exercise, called a self-affirmation, allows a student to reaffirm that he or she is a good and competent person," Cohen said. "This helps reduce stress by allowing the student to think about all the things that matter to them, for example their family or their religion. It makes the possibility of failure less dire."

The study also suggests that how students perform during the school year is strongly correlated to how they perform during the first few weeks of that year. If a student starts off the year feeling more stress due to negative stereotypes, and then performs poorly during the first few weeks of school, this can establish a downward cycle of increasing stress and poor performance that is hard to break, said Cohen.

"Our study shows that early intervention seems to interrupt this downward trend in academic performance," he said.

Cohen and his co-authors also measured the students' sense of success at the beginning of the school year and again at the end. They found that for low-performing African-American students there is a drop in their sense of adequacy in school over the course of the school year, but for students who participated in the exercise, and for white students, their sense of success remained constant over time.

"This suggests that early failure can have a disproportionate effect on the negatively stereotyped group," Cohen said. "The first few weeks of middle school can have a negative effect on a child's self-concept that seems surprisingly persistent. We found that if you can buffer people against this you can potentially have long-term benefits."

Cohen said he plans to continue studying similar psychological interventions on other groups of students to see if similar positive results can be generated and to zero in on the mechanisms underlying these effects.

"In a society where economic success depends heavily on scholastic achievement, even a slight narrowing of the achievement gap would be consequential," Cohen said. "This is especially true for low-achieving students, given the societal, institutional and personal costs of academic failure."

Test Scores Vs. Classroom Grades

Although more than three million high school seniors take standardized college admissions tests like the SAT “it is well known by educational researchers that high-school grades are the best indicator of student readiness for college, and standardized admissions tests are useful primarily as a supplement to the high-school record,” according to Richard C. Atkinson.

“We now have a much deeper appreciation of why assessment of achievement and curriculum mastery remains vital as a paradigm for admissions testing. Curriculum-based achievement tests are the fairest and most effective assessments for college admissions and have important incentive or “signaling “ effects for our K-12 schools as well: They help reinforce a rigorous academic curriculum and create better alignment of teaching, learning and assessment all along the pathway from high school to college,” according to Atkinson.

The College Board’s SAT admissions test sends a confusing message to students, teachers, and schools. It featured esoteric items, like verbal analogies and quantitative comparisons, rarely encountered in the classroom. Especially troubling, the perception of the SAT as a test of basic intellectual ability had an adverse effect on many students from low-performing schools, tending to diminish academic aspiration and self-esteem. Low scores on the SAT were too often interpreted as meaning that a student lacked the ability to attend UC, notwithstanding his or her record of accomplishment in high school.

These concerns prompted Atkinson to propose in 2001 dropping the SAT in favor of curriculum-based achievement tests in UC admissions. UC accounts for a substantial share of the national market for admissions tests, and the College Board responded with a revised SAT in 2005. The “New SAT” (now also known as the “SAT-R,” for “reasoning”) “is clearly an improvement over the previous version of the test. A writing exam has been incorporated into the test, and verbal analogies have been dropped. Instead of deconstructing esoteric analogies, students must now perform a task they will actually face in college -- writing an essay under a deadline. The new mathematics section is more demanding, but fairer; while the old SAT featured item-types that were known for their trickery but required only a basic knowledge of algebra, the new math section is more straightforward and covers some higher-level math. “Reports from many sources indicate that the changes have galvanized a renewed focus on writing and math in the nation’s schools,” said Atkinson.

Though an improvement over the old test, the New SAT still remains at odds with educational priorities along the pathway from high school to college. The New SAT’s lack of alignment with high-school curricula has become especially conspicuous now that most states, like California, have moved towards standards-based assessments at the K-12 level.

Of all nationally administered tests used in college admissions, the College Board’s subject tests and AP exams are the best examples of achievement tests currently available. The College Board subject tests are offered in about 20 subject areas and the AP exams in over 30. AP exam scores were second only to high-school grades in predicting student performance at UC.

In conclusion Atkinson says, “Without question, the College Board SAT subject tests and AP exams have the strongest curricular foundations of any college-entrance tests now available, and more colleges and universities should find them attractive.”

Study Finds Link Between Facebook Use, Lower Grades in College

College students who use Facebook spend less time studying and have lower grade point averages than students who have not signed up for the social networking website, according to a pilot study at one university.

However, more than three-quarters of Facebook users claimed that their use of the social networking site didn’t interfere with their studies.

“We can’t say that use of Facebook leads to lower grades and less studying – but we did find a relationship there,” said Aryn Karpinski, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in education at Ohio State University.

“There’s a disconnect between students’ claim that Facebook use doesn’t impact their studies, and our finding showing they had lower grades and spent less time studying.”

While this was a relatively small, exploratory study, it is one of the first to find a relationship between college students’ use of Facebook and their academic achievement.

Typically, Facebook users in the study had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.5, while non-users had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0.

In addition, users said they averaged one to five hours a week studying, while non-users studied 11 to 15 hours per week.

Karpinski conducted the study with Adam Duberstein of Ohio Dominican University. They presented their research April 16 in San Diego at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association.

The researchers surveyed 219 students at Ohio State, including 102 undergraduate students and 117 graduate students. Of the participants, 148 said they had a Facebook account.

The study found that 85 percent of undergraduates were Facebook users, while only 52 percent of graduate students had accounts.

Students who spent more time working at paid jobs were less likely to use Facebook, while students who were more involved in extracurricular activities at school were more likely to use Facebook.

Science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and business majors were more likely to use Facebook than were students majoring in the humanities and social sciences.

“Other research had indicated that STEM majors spend more time on the Internet than do other students, so that may be one reason why they are more likely to use Facebook,” Karpinski said.

There were no differences in Facebook use between different members of racial and ethnic groups that were part of the study, or between men and women.

Younger and full-time students were more likely to be Facebook users.

Findings showed that 79 percent of Facebook users claimed it did not have an impact on their academic performance. In open-ended questions on the survey, users claimed they didn’t use Facebook frequently enough to notice an impact, and emphasized that academics were a priority for them.

Karpinski emphasized that the results don’t necessarily mean that Facebook use leads to lower grades.

“There may be other factors involved, such as personality traits, that link Facebook use and lower grades,” she said.

“It may be that if it wasn’t for Facebook, some students would still find other ways to avoid studying, and would still get lower grades. But perhaps the lower GPAs could actually be because students are spending too much time socializing online.”

Karpinski said it was significant that the link between lower grades and Facebook use was found even in graduate students. She said that graduate students generally have GPAs above 3.5, so the fact that even they had lower grades when they used Facebook -- and spent less time studying – was an amazing finding.

The popularity of Facebook is evident in college lecture halls, Karpinski said. Faculty members who allow students to use laptops in class have told her they often see students on the Facebook site during class.

“It’s not going away anytime soon, and we need to learn more about how Facebook use is affecting students,” she said.

As for herself, Karpinski said she doesn’t have a Facebook account, although her co-author does.

“For me, I think Facebook is a huge distraction,” she said.


A researcher at Ohio State University has developed a course on learning and motivation strategies that actually increases the odds that struggling first-year students will graduate.

Students in academic difficulty who took the “Learning and Motivation Strategies” course in their first quarter at Ohio State were about 45 percent more likely to graduate within six years than similar students who didn’t take the class.

Average-ability students who took the course were also six times more likely to stay in college for a second year and had higher grade point averages than those who didn’t take the class.

“We are taking the students who are least likely to succeed in college and teaching them the skills they need to stay in school and graduate,” said Bruce Tuckman, a professor of education at Ohio State, and creator of the course.

“Just taking this one class has made a big difference in how well below-average students do at Ohio State.”

Tuckman and Gary Kennedy, a graduate student in education, recently completed a study looking at how students have fared after taking the class. They presented their results April 16 in San Diego at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

The researchers compared 351 students who took the class their first quarter at Ohio State with 351 matched controls who didn’t take the class. The students were matched on quarter of enrollment, gender, age, ethnicity, high school class rank and ACT scores to make sure those who took the class were compared to students of similar ability and background.

Students were followed for seven years to determine if they stayed in school, and if so, what grades they earned and whether they graduated.

Along with the higher retention and graduation rates, students who took the class averaged significantly higher grade point averages for each of the first four quarters. Over those four quarters, course takers had an average GPA of 2.85, compared to 2.74 for their matched controls who didn't take the class, a difference of about three percent

While any student can enroll in the course, Tuckman said it is aimed at those at the bottom of the academic ladder – those with the lowest test scores and those with the lowest class ranks in high school.

Results of the study showed that these were the students who benefitted the most from the class.

“Students who did not do well their first quarter at Ohio State, which was the quarter they took the class, were the ones who had a higher likelihood of graduating compared to similar students who didn’t take the class,” Kennedy said. “They were able to turn themselves around."

While many colleges and universities provide students some assistance in learning study skills, few offer credit courses as does Ohio State. Offering a credit course gives more time to teach the skills and attracts students who might otherwise not participate, according to Tuckman.

The course now enrolls more than 1,000 students each year.

Tuckman said the below-average students in the class often don’t have the advantages of higher-ranked students when they arrive at college.

“If you lived in a strong education environment your whole life, had parents who were college graduates, you probably have the skills to learn and do well in college,” Tuckman said.

“But students who grew up in different environments, where no one has gone to college, need to be taught how to succeed in college.”

Tuckman said he designed the class around accepted principles about how people learn and how they are motivated. He identified four strategies which he teaches in the class: Take reasonable risk; take responsibility for outcomes; search the environment for information; and use feedback.

But the unique part of the class is how it is taught, Tuckman said. Students have to complete 216 short, online assignments during the 10-week quarter. Every one of these assignments is graded, and students receive constant feedback.

“We want to change students behavior, and to do that we have to get them to behave in ways that will help them succeed. They have 216 opportunities to behave in the ways we want them to, and they always know where they stand.”

The course is very structured, he said, which helps the students learn how they should approach all their classes.

“We create a cocoon in this course, and they live in that cocoon for 10 weeks,” Tuckman said.

“When those 10 weeks are over, they can create the cocoon for themselves, because they know what it is. They must be doing it, because they are coming back to school and graduating at higher rates.”
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ERR #6

NAEP Long-Term Trend Assessment

Since its inception in 1969, NAEP has served the important function of measuring our nation's educational progress by regularly administering various subject area assessments to nationally representative samples of students. The existence of the two national assessment programs—long-term trend NAEP and main NAEP—makes it possible to meet two important objectives:
• measure student progress over time, and
• as educational priorities change, develop new assessment instruments that reflect current educational content and assessment methodology.

The NAEP long-term trend assessments in reading and mathematics were administered throughout the nation in the 2003–2004 school year to students aged 9, 13, and 17. Because the long-term trend program uses substantially the same assessments decade after decade, it has been possible to chart educational progress since 1971 in reading and 1973 in mathematics.

How Was the NAEP 2004 Long-Term Trend Assessment Developed?

The NAEP long-term trend assessment was developed to give information on the changes in the basic achievement of America's youth. It has been used to monitor trend lines first established 35 years ago, and over the past three decades, results have been reported for students at ages 9, 13, and 17 in mathematics, reading, and science, and in grades 4, 8, and 11 in writing.
At the time of the last long-term trend report (1999), the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) discontinued the assessment in writing for technical reasons. More recently, NAGB decided that changes were needed to the design of the science assessment and, given recent advances in the field of science, to its content. As a result, the science long-term trend assessment was not administered in 2003-2004.
The discontinuation of the writing and science trend assessments provided an opportunity to modify the NAEP long-term trend assessments to reflect current assessment designs and practices. Consequently, a number of changes were implemented in 2004 to revitalize the long-term trend assessments. The changes implemented in 2004 were intended to reflect changes in NAEP policy, maintain the integrity of the long-term trend assessments, and increase the validity of the results obtained.

Changes to the assessment instruments included
• removal of science and writing items,
• inclusion of students with disabilities and English language learners,
• replacement of items that used outdated contexts,
• creation of a separate background questionnaire (439K PDF), (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/bgq/student/04BQ-LTTstudent.pdf)

• elimination of "I don't know" as a response option for multiple-choice items, and
• use of assessment booklets that pertain to a single subject area (whereas in the past, a single assessment booklet may have contained both reading and mathematics items).

Because it was important to know that any changes in assessment results could be attributed to actual changes in student performance rather than to changes in the assessment, a special bridge study was conducted to evaluate how the change to the assessment design and administration procedures would affect assessment results.

The reading and mathematics trend assessments are composed of
• multiple-choice and
• constructed-response questions.
The long-term trend assessment was updated in several ways in 2003. To ensure the comparability of the new assessment and the previous assessments, a bridge study was performed.

2004 Bridge Study

Several changes were made to the long-term trend assessment in 2004 to align it with best current assessment practices and with policies applicable to the NAEP main assessments. According to the new policy of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), reading and mathematics are to be assessed by both the long-term trend instruments and the main NAEP instruments, but science and writing will be assessed only in main NAEP. As a result, changes were needed to remove the sets, or blocks, of questions for science and writing, which had been intermixed with the reading and mathematics blocks in the long-term trend assessment instruments.

The changes provided an opportunity to bring other aspects of the assessment up to date. Considerable progress in testing theory has been made since the late 1960s, when these assessments were first designed, and the 2004 administration provided an opportunity to bring these improvements to the long-term trend assessments.

In addition, since 1996, main NAEP assessments have been providing accommodations to allow more students with disabilities and students who were not fluent in English to participate. Traditionally, the long-term trend assessments have not provided such accommodations. However, in 2004, it was possible to provide accommodations and assess a greater proportion of students.

As a result of these changes, two assessments were given in 2004—a modified assessment that contained many changes from previous assessments, and a bridge assessment that was used to link the modified assessment to the 1999 assessment so the trend line could be continued.

The modified assessment included the following changes:
• replacing outdated material;
• eliminating blocks of items for subjects no longer reported;
• replacing and reorganizing background questions;
• allowing accommodations for students who needed them; and
• changing some administrative procedures, i.e., eliminating audio-paced tapes and using assessment booklets that pertain only to a single subject.

In 2004, students were randomly assigned to take either the bridge assessment or the modified assessment. The bridge assessment replicated the instrument given in 1999 and used the same administration procedures. The modified assessment included the new items and modifications listed above.

The results reported on this website use the data from the bridge assessment to maintain trend lines across years. The modified assessment will provide the basis of comparison for all future assessments, and the bridge will link its results back to the results of the past 30 years.

Comparing the results of the modified and bridge assessments demonstrates that the link between the 2004 bridge and modified assessments successfully continues the trend line.

Download the full long-term trend report for a complete discussion of the bridge study:

Learn more about the main NAEP assessment, the nation's only ongoing assessment of what students know and can do in various subject areas;

View the full long-term trend assessment report: NAEP 2004 Trends in Academic Progress: Three Decades of Student Performance:
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ERR #5

Economy Threatens Impressive Expansion of State Pre-K Programs

The annual survey of state-funded preschool programs shows impressive expansion in enrollment and spending. However, the recession may reverse the trend, curtailing early education opportunities for children in lower and middle-income families.

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released The State of Preschool 2008 at a news conference here today. Key findings included:

• Enrollment increased by more than 108,000 children. More than 1.1 million children attended state-funded preschool education, 973,178 at age 4 alone.

• Thirty-three of the 38 states with state-funded programs increased enrollment.

• Based on NIEER's Quality Standards Checklist, 11 states improved the quality of their preschool programs. Only one fell back.

• State funding for pre-K rose to almost $4.6 billion. Funding for state pre-K from all reported sources exceeded $5.2 billion, an increase of nearly $1 billion (23 percent) over the previous year.

On a less positive note, whether or not a child receives high-quality preschool education depends on where his or her family lives. Twelve states provided no state-funded preschool in 2008.

Based at Rutgers University, NIEER has produced an annual report on state preschool programs since 2002.

Due to the economy and declining state revenues, the immediate future of state-funded preschool is uncertain. In most states, expenditures on pre-K are entirely discretionary and therefore easier to cut than expenditures for K-12 education and other programs.

NIEER Director Steve Barnett said states are considering enrollment cuts, reductions in program standards, and postponement of expansion plans even with the availability of new federal stimulus funds.

Of the 38 states with state-funded preschool, cuts are likely in at least nine including some of the biggest states – California, Florida, New York, and North Carolina.

Whatever state and federal governments may do to cope with the current economic crisis, Barnett said, "a federal initiative is needed to support early learning and development.

"We propose that the federal government commit to doubling the rate of growth in state pre-K while raising state quality standards so that by the year 2020 all 4-year-olds in America will have access to a good education. To do this, the federal government should match state spending with up to $2,500 for every additional child enrolled in state pre-K programs meeting basic quality standards. In addition, the federal government should facilitate increased integration of child care, Head Start, and state pre-K.

"If the federal government adopts such a course, all of our children will have a brighter future. If it does not, disparities in early education and school readiness will continue to increase, and another generation will pass without the benefits of quality pre-K for all."

Currently, Oklahoma remains the only state where virtually every child can start school at age 4. In at least eight other states, more than half of 4-year-olds attend a public preschool program of some kind.

At the other end of the spectrum, are the 12 states that have no regular state preschool education program: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. In eight states, less than 20 percent of children are enrolled in a public preschool program at age 4 even taking into account preschool special education and Head Start.

Most states meet a majority of the NIEER's 10 benchmarks for program quality standards, but five states meet fewer than half. These states include three of the four states with the largest populations and numbers of children in pre-K-- California, Texas and Florida.

Texas is the only state that fails to limit both maximum class size and staff-child ratio. California and Maine have limits on staff-child ratio but no class size limit. Most other states limit classes to 20 or fewer children with a teacher and an assistant.

In 2008, enrollment of 3-year-olds continued to rise, though less rapidly than at age 4. The leader in serving 3-year-olds in state pre-K is Illinois, which is the only state committed to serving all 3-year-olds, but it is closely followed by Arkansas. Four states, Illinois, Arkansas, Vermont and New Jersey serve at least 20 percent of children at age 3 in general and special education programs.

Research shows that high-quality pre-K can help improve the educational success of all children and by doing so, decrease school failure and dropout rates, and crime and delinquency. In addition, high-quality preschool education has been found to improve economic productivity and health.

Complete report:


Effects of Teachers’ Unions on

Qualification Specific and Incentive Based

Teacher Compensation

This study first provides a review of the current knowledge about the effect of unions on teacher pay. The authors also examining the effects of unions on all the aforementioned aspects with a large nationally representative dataset and also with a smaller, but more recent dataset that provides increased detail on the structure of teacher compensation. They examine the effect that unions have on returns to master’s degrees, benefits as a percent to salary, early and late returns to tenure and the steepness of the salary schedule (measured by the total number of years it takes a teacher to reach the maximum salary and the share of total career growth that is earned in the first few years of a teacher’s career).

Complete report:


West Virginia's Progress Toward Universal Prekindergarten

This report examines rates of participation in West Virginia’s universal, voluntary prekindergarten program from 2002/03 to 2006/07. It describes the share of seats provided by collaborative partners and public school systems and analyzes participation rates by demographic and socioeconomic subgroup and county characteristics.


Research Featured at American Educational Research Association Conference April 14-18

Teacher turnover in charter schools (Presentation: April 13)

Thomas M. Smith and David Stuit will report their findings that the odds of a charter school teacher leaving the profession or changing schools is over 200 percent greater than the odds of a traditional public school teacher doing so. In part, the higher turnover rates are due to the fact that charter school teachers are, on average, younger and less likely to hold regular teaching certificates. Smith and Stuit found no linkage between higher turnover and charter schools' personnel policies that make it easier to get rid of under-performing teachers. Smith is associate professor of public policy and organizations. Stuit is a doctoral candidate.

More than 50 percent of students with behavior problems have undiagnosed language problems (Presentation: April 14)

Stephen Camarata will discuss his findings that language and behavior disorders often co-exist and that the language disorder is usually moderate to severe, undiagnosed and untreated. The findings are based on Camarata's assessment of 5th and 6th graders with emotional and behavior issues. Camarata is professor of hearing and speech sciences and of special education, and is a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development investigator.

Patterns of racial isolation in Nashville's magnet schools (Presentation: April 14)

Ellen B. Goldring and Claire E. Smrekar will present their findings that magnet schools in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, which were declared unitary in 1999 after a long history of court-ordered desegregation, have reached their all-time highest levels of racial segregation under unitary status. They also found the socioeconomic status of magnet school students tends to be higher than those in traditional public schools. Their findings of increasing racial isolation for both white students and black students at Nashville magnet schools provide a template for considering the national implications of magnet school policies in the era of post-unitary status. Goldring is professor of education policy and leadership. Smrekar is associate professor of public policy and education.

Recruiting mid-career professionals to teaching (Presentation: April 15)

Marissa Cannata will discuss her research about the efficacy of policies that have attempted to increase the number of males and minorities in teaching and to address the unequal distribution of qualified teachers across schools by recruiting mid-career entrants into teaching. She found both mid-career and first-career teachers applied to schools with similar student characteristics, suggesting that neither group prefers to work with a particular demographic. Cannata also found that while that first-career teachers were more likely than mid-career entrants to receive job offers, mid-career teachers who applied to positions at urban or low-income schools were more likely to receive job offers than first-career applicants who applied to similar positions. This resulted in a greater proportion of mid-career entrants teaching in urban or low-income schools. Cannata is a research associate in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations.

Fast food consumption and test scores (Presentation: April 16)

Kerri Tobin will maintain a link exists between consumption fast food, and students' academic performance in school. She has found a negative relationship between 5th graders' reported fast-food consumption patterns and their reading and math test scores, and will discuss possible policy implications and directions for further research. Tobin is a graduate student at Peabody College.

School leadership differences among charter, magnet, private and traditional public schools (Presentation: April 16)

Ellen Goldring will present her research that finds principals in choice schools, both private and public, distributed their leadership and had more authority than principals of traditional public schools. These principals also put more focus on securing resources and marketing than principals of traditional public schools. The emphases on instructional programs appear to be similar among the public school types, with private school principals reporting a slightly higher level of focus on instruction. Goldring is professor education policy and leadership.

Connection between principals’ activities and student performance (Presentation: April 16)

Ellen Goldring and Jason Huff will discuss their findings that principals in lower performing schools devote more time to planning and setting goals and to instruction leadership, and that time spent in these areas is associated with greater increases in student performance. Goldring is professor education policy and leadership. Huff is a doctoral candidate.

Higher Education Parents key to African American students' college success (Presentation date: April 13)

Donna L. Pavlick will present her findings about what influenced her study sample of African American students who successfully obtained bachelor's degrees at predominantly white colleges and universities. The results indicated that these participants attributed their success to the encouragement and support of their parents. The influence of faculty and staff as parental surrogates was a secondary source of encouragement. Pavlick is associate dean for academic programs and registrar at Vanderbilt Law School.

State spending on higher education: Testing the balance wheel over time (Presentation: April 15)

William Doyle will present his findings, based on 44 years of data, that the relationship between higher education funding and all other categories has only recently taken the form of a "balance wheel" for state finance. This popular theory asserts that higher education receives larger cuts in bad times and bigger increases in good times than other budget categories. Doyle is associate professor of public policy.

Undocumented students' success – a case study from Texas (Presentation: April 17)

Stella Flores will present her findings that in Texas, which in 2005 was the first state to pass an in-state resident tuition policy benefiting undocumented students, immigrant students who enrolled as tuition policy beneficiaries are equally likely to persist in college as their U.S. citizen Latino counterparts. Results suggest that the academic promise of these students at a selective public institution is as promising as similar students with U.S. citizenship status. Flores is assistant professor of public policy and higher education.
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You Do the Math: Explaining Basic Concepts Behind Math Problems Improves Children’s Learning

New research from Vanderbilt University has found students benefit more from being taught the concepts behind math problems rather than the exact procedures to solve the problems. The findings offer teachers new insights on how best to shape math instruction to have the greatest impact on student learning.

The research by Bethany Rittle-Johnson, assistant professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and Percival Mathews, a Peabody doctoral candidate, is in press at the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

“Teaching children the basic concept behind math problems was more useful than teaching children a procedure for solving the problems – these children gave better explanations and learned more,” Rittle-Johnson said. “This adds to a growing body of research illustrating the importance of teaching children concepts as well as having them practice solving problems.”

In math class, teachers typically demonstrate a procedure for solving a problem and then have children practice solving related problems, often with minimal explanation for why things work.

“With conceptual instruction, teachers explain a problem’s underlying structure. That type of instruction enables kids to solve the problems without having been taught specific procedures and also to understand more about how problems work,” Matthews said. “When you just show them how to do the problem they can solve it, but not necessarily understand what it is about. With conceptual instruction, they are able to come up with the procedure on their own.”

The study also examined whether having the students explain their solution to problems helped improve their learning. To test this, the researchers used the conceptual teaching approach with all students, and had one group explain their solution while the other did not. They found no discernable difference in performance between the two groups. While self explanation has been found to be beneficial in previous studies, Rittle-Johnson and Matthews found that when the students were given a limited time to solve the problem, the benefit disappeared. This led them to suggest that part of the benefit of self explanation may come from the extra time a student spends thinking about that particular problem.

“Self explanation took more time, which left less time for practice solving the problems,” Matthews said. “When time is unlimited, self-explanation gives students more time to repair faulty mental models. We found conceptual explanation may do the same thing and make self-explanation less useful.”

Rittle-Johnson is an investigator in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development and in the Vanderbilt Learning Sciences Institute. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

For more information about Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development, ranked the No. 2 education school in the nation in 2008 by U.S. News & World Report, visit http://peabody.vanderbilt.edu.

It Pays to Compare: Comparison Helps Children Grasp Math Concepts

Comparing different ways of solving math problems is a great way to help middle schoolers learn new math concepts, researchers from Vanderbilt and Harvard universities have found.

“We found that comparing different ways to solve a problem helped middle-school students become more flexible problem solvers and better understand the concepts behind the methods,” Bethany Rittle-Johnson, assistant professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and co-author of the new research, said.

Newswise — Rittle-Johnson and her colleague and co-author, Jon Star, assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, also found that comparing different solution methods was more effective than comparing different problems solved using the same solution. “Overall, students should not just learn one way to solve a math problem; rather, they should learn multiple ways and be encouraged to compare the benefits and drawbacks of each,” she said.__The findings are summarized in two studies, one recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology and the other in press at the Journal of Educational Psychology.

“In U.S. math classes, teachers typically demonstrate a procedure for solving a problem and then have children practice solving related problems,” Rittle-Johnson said. “Students have very few opportunities to compare different ways to solve problems and tend to solve problems in a single way with limited understanding of why the way works.”

In the new studies, Rittle-Johnson and Star found seventh and eighth graders who compared two different ways to solve equations were both more accurate and more flexible in how they solved equations. The benefits of comparison were most pronounced when the examples being compared differed on key features.

They saw the same effect when fifth graders were working on problems that involved estimation.

“In a past study, we found that seventh graders who compared two different ways to solve equations were both more accurate and more flexible in their equation solving. In our recent studies, we found similar benefits for fifth graders learning about estimation,” Rittle-Johnson said.

English Learners in Boston Public Schools

in the Aftermath of Policy Change

In 2002, Massachusetts voters approved a referendum against the continuance of Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) as a method of instruction for English language learners. The study undertaken by the Mauricio Gaston Institute at UMass Boston in collaboration with the Center for Collaborative Education in Boston finds that, in the three years following the implementation of Question 2 in the Boston Public Schools, the identification of students of limited English proficiency declined as did the enrollment in programs for English; the enrollment of English Learners in substantially separate Special Education programs more than doubled; and service options for English Learners narrowed. The study found that high school drop-out rates among students in programs for English Learners almost doubled and that the proportion of English Learners in middle school who dropped out more than tripled in those three years. Finally, although there have been some gains for English Learners in both ELA and math MCAS pass rates in 4th and 8th grade, gains for English Learners have not matched those of other groups and as a result gaps between English Learners and other BPS populations have widened.

Full report:



The California Dropout Research Project Releases Dropout Profiles for 17 California Cities Featuring Local Dropout Data, Economic Impact and Benefits to Reducing Dropouts

The California Dropout Research Project (CDRP) has released City Dropout Profiles for 17 cities in California. The City Dropout Profiles provide data for each of the 17 cities on the number of middle and high school dropouts from 2006-07, the economic losses to the community, and benefits to reducing the number of dropouts by half, specifically economic savings and decrease of violent crimes. The losses and benefits were calculated using CDRP research documenting the economic impact of dropping out on earnings, unemployment, health, crime, and public assistance. The CDRP also released a companion dropout profile for the state of California. To access the State and City Dropout Profiles, visit http://www.lmri.ucsb.edu/dropouts/pubs_cityprofiles.htm.

The cities featured in this series include: Berkeley, Chula Vista, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Modesto, Oakland, Pasadena, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara and Stockton.

“The data linking dropout rates to violent crime and economic losses makes clear that the dropout crisis is everyone's problem--and that whole communities will benefit from coming together to ensure that all students graduate high school with the courses and skills necessary to succeed in college and in life," said Roberta Furger, Education Program Coordinator, PICO California. PICO California (www.picocalifornia.org) is part of the PICO National Network of faith-based community organizations representing 450,000 families in 73 cities throughout the state working to create innovative solutions to pressing community issues including developing effective and sustainable strategies for increasing graduation rates.

Highlights from the State Report include:

• California’s public schools produced one dropout for every three graduates

• 123,651 students dropped out of grades 7-12 in 2006-07

o Even if half of all dropouts eventually graduate, the remaining half would contribute to more than $24 billion in economic losses to the state over their working lives
• Reducing the number of dropouts by half would generate about $12 billion in savings to the state and would reduce the number of homicides and aggravated assaults by more than 14,000 per year

The State and City Dropout Profiles are the latest in a series of 42 research reports, policy and statistical briefs on California’s dropouts conducted by CDRP, a research program based at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Last year, the CDRP policy committee – composed of researchers, policymakers and educators – released a state policy agenda identifying short-term and long-term recommendations for improving California’s high school graduation rate.

Full report:


Related report:


State Legislators Consider Bill to Restrict Florida Virtual School Despite Growing Enrollment

Legislation to limit course offerings and funding for the state-run Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is making its way through the state Senate despite the fact that the online education program continues to see dramatic increases in enrollment, especially among minority students, according to a new article published in the summer issue of Education Next and available online.

In the 2008–09 school year, approximately 84,000 students will complete 168,000 half-credit courses, more than a tenfold increase since 2002-03, points out Bill Tucker, managing director at Education Sector and author of the Education Next article. Between June 2007 and July 2008, African-American enrollments grew by 49 percent, Hispanic enrollments by 42 percent, and Native American enrollments by 41 percent.

The legislation under consideration would eliminate enrollment in any elective courses through FLVS as well as funding for any courses beyond a standard six periods. FLVS officials have warned that the provision could cut enrollment by as much as 24 percent.

“If this bill passes, students would no longer have an option to take electives, including some AP courses, beyond those offered at their traditional schools nor could they enroll in extra courses to catch up on graduation requirements,” Tucker said.

FLVS is a supplemental education program that allows students to customize their learning. Students attend brick-and-mortar schools and take FLVS courses in addition to their traditional classes. The school employs more than 715 full-time and 29 adjunct teachers -- all Florida-certified and “highly qualified” under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Given the school’s flexible pacing, there isn’t a set class size, but full-time teachers are limited to 150 students each.

While the vast majority of FLVS students come from district schools (82 percent in 2007-08), the school is open to charter, private, and home-schooled students. Students choose an accelerated, traditional, or extended pace for a particular course, taking extra time if needed to review and receive additional guidance on lessons. Additionally, FLVS students don’t have to wait for the semester to begin to start their learning; they can choose the month in which they would like to start.

With its focus on customized learning, online education in the United States is growing at a fast pace: According to the North American Council for Online Learning, enrollment in online courses in 2000 totaled 45,000. In 2007, enrollments reached 1 million, about 70 percent of which were for high school courses.

Popularity of online education courses is also growing. According to a 2008 national survey conducted by Education Next and the Harvard Kennedy School Program on Education Policy and Governance, more than two thirds of American parents say they would be willing to have their children take some of their high school courses over the Internet. And in most instances, the American public supports public funding for online courses that high school students take for credit. The breadth of their support, however, depends on the purpose of the online education. A majority favor funding for high schools offering advanced courses for students online and for high schools that offer rural students a broader range of courses online. A plurality of 40 percent support funding online classes that help dropouts gain credits.

Full report:


Progress At Risk: California’s Budget and the Implications for Teaching Quality

The state and national budget crises have resulted in radical cuts in funding for California schools. Overall reductions in the recently enacted state budget approximate 15%, with school expenditures decreasing from $51.6 billion to $43 billion in less than two years. One way policymakers tried to soften the blow to school districts was to afford them substantial flexibility in the use of school funding. Funding that was designated for certain students or uses can now be spent on “any education purpose.” Now the scope and nature of education services for students and teachers, once connected to state requirements, are the subject of local discretion and collective bargaining agreements.

School districts immediately will be faced with a series of very tough decisions. Perhaps the most challenging and far reaching of these will relate to education equity and teaching quality. In this CenterView, we focus on issues and questions that are beginning to emerge for Californians as they struggle to offer students instruction necessary to meet our state’s rigorous academic standards. There are no easy answers as policy makers, local educators and other school community members roll up their collective sleeves and work to mitigate the damage done to their schools by this budget crisis. But careful monitoring of district response to cuts and adjustments in programs and personnel practices could supply information helpful to rebuilding and even strengthening California’s public school sys tem.

Progress in Peril

In recent years, California has made significant strides in addressing both education equity and teaching quality. The numbers of underprepared teachers have finally dropped to levels that existed prior to the introduction of class size reduction in 2006, when, virtually overnight, school districts hired nearly 20,000 new teachers. Many of those teachers were underprepared and most ended up in schools with high numbers of poor and minority students. After more than a decade of carefully designed teacher recruitment, retention and development initiatives, California has reduced the number of underprepared teachers by nearly 27,000. As a consequence of the budget crisis, these successful strategies are now at grave risk.

Full Report:


Reengaging High School Dropouts

Early Results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program Evaluation

High school dropouts face daunting odds of success in a labor market that increasingly rewards education and skills. This report presents very early results from a rigorous, independent evaluation of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, an intensive residential program that aims to “reclaim the lives” of young people ages 16 to 18 who have dropped out of school. ChalleNGe currently operates in more than half the states. About 75,000 young people have completed the program since the early 1990s. MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, is conducting the evaluation, along with the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood. Private foundations and the U.S. Department of Defense are funding the evaluation.

The 17-month ChalleNGe program is divided into three phases: Pre-ChalleNGe, which is a two-week orientation and assessment period; a 20-week Residential Phase built around eight core components designed to promote positive youth development; and a one-year Postresidential Phase featuring a structured mentoring program. During the first two phases, participants in the program live at the program site, often on a military base. The environment is described as “quasi-military,” though there are no requirements for military service.

The evaluation uses a random assignment research design. Because there were more qualified applicants than slots, a lottery-like process was used to decide which applicants were admitted to the program. The young people who were admitted (the program group) are being compared over time with those who were not admitted (the control group); any significant differences that emerge between the groups can be attributed to ChalleNGe. About 3,000 young people entered the study in 10 ChalleNGe programs in 2005-2006.

Early Results

About 80 percent of the program group started the program, two-thirds completed the Pre-ChalleNGe Phase, and about half graduated from the Residential Phase. A survey administered about nine months after the members of the program and control groups entered the study — not long after ChalleNGe graduates began the program’s Postresidential Phase — found that:

• The program group was much more likely than the control group to have obtained a high school diploma or a General Educational Development certificate (GED). At the time of the survey, 46 percent of the program group had a diploma or a GED, compared with about 10 percent of the control group.

• The program group was more likely than the control group to be working and attending college; members of the control group were more likely to have returned to high school. For example, just over 30 percent of the program group versus 21 percent of the control group reported that they were working full time.

• The program group reported better health and higher levels of self-efficacy and were less likely to have been arrested.

It is too early to draw any conclusions about the long-term effects of ChalleNGe. Nevertheless, the early results suggest that partway through their ChalleNGe experience, young people in the program group are better positioned to move forward in their transition to adulthood. Results from an 18-month survey will be available in late 2009.

Full report:


Research Shows National Service Program Enlisting Tutors Over Age 55 Produces Big Gains in Student Learning; Rigorous Study Finds Students With Experience Corps Tutors Make 60 Percent More Progress in Critical Reading Skills Than Students Without Tutors

Tutoring children in and after school isn't new, but how much does it really help in critical areas like reading? Rigorous new research from Washington University in St. Louis shows significant gains from a national service program that trains experienced Americans to help low-income children one-on-one in urban public schools.

The central finding: Over a single school year, students with Experience Corps tutors made over 60 percent more progress in learning two critical reading skills - sounding out new words and reading comprehension - than similar students not served by the program.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis conducted a randomized, control-group study of Experience Corps, a national program that engages Americans over 55 in helping struggling students learn to read, to assess its effectiveness. The two-year, $2 million study, funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, is one of the largest of its kind, involving more than 800 first, second and third graders (half with Experience Corps tutors, half without) at 23 elementary schools in three cities.

"The difference in reading ability between kids who worked with Experience Corps tutors and those who did not is substantial and statistically significant," said Nancy Morrow-Howell, the lead researcher and a professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University.

"This research shows that Experience Corps tutors can increase student reading skills," said Jean Grossman, an expert in youth mentoring programs and evaluation design at Princeton University and Public / Private Ventures. "That's great news for parents, children, educators and the many people of all ages who want to respond to President Obama's call to service and want to know that their efforts will make a significant difference."

Other key findings from the Washington University research:

- Experience Corps tutors were able to improve young students' reading comprehension, one of the toughest skills to affect for struggling readers. Few other studies of tutoring interventions for beginning readers have demonstrated improvement in reading comprehension, a critical building block for literacy development.

- As an intervention, Experience Corps compares to smaller class size. Students with Experience Corps tutors get a boost in reading skills equivalent to the boost they would get from being assigned to a classroom with 40 percent fewer children.

- Experience Corps works for all students, including those farthest behind. Experience Corps tutors delivered similarly significant results for students regardless of gender, ethnicity, grade, classroom behavior or English proficiency (25 percent of tutored children use English as a second language). Half of all students referred to Experience Corps tutors struggle so much with reading that they are at or below the 16th percentile nationwide.

- Teachers welcome Experience Corps. Teachers overwhelmingly rate Experience Corps as beneficial to students, while reporting that it represents little or no burden to them.

- Experience Corps is beneficial for the older adults themselves. Experience Corps members perceive that the program has a positive impact on students and on their relationship with students, an important ingredient as research shows that better student-tutor relationships are associated with better reading outcomes. In addition, studies by researchers at Washington University and Johns Hopkins have shown that working with young students improves the health and well-being of the adults themselves.

"The What Works Clearinghouse, which connects educators with effective practices and interventions in education, has reviewed over a hundred reading programs, and few of them have the type of impact on reading that Experience Corps does," notes Mark Dynarski, director of the clearinghouse, who is also a member of the study's advisory panel and a vice president at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Experience Corps has 2,000 tutors helping 20,000 students in 23 U.S. cities, including Annapolis, MD; Baltimore City and County; Beaumont, TX; Boston; Cleveland; Evansville, IN; Grand Rapids, MI; Marin, CA; Mesa, AZ; Minneapolis; New Haven, CT; New York City; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia; Port Arthur, TX; Portland, OR; Revere, MA; San Francisco; St. Paul, MN; Tempe, AZ; Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC.

"Experience Corps works because Experience Corps members are carefully screened and trained to support local literacy instruction," said Lester Strong, the program's CEO. "Plus most Experience Corps members come from the neighborhoods where they serve. They know these kids, they believe in these kids, and they see a future in them."

"Experience Corps puts a growing national resource, experienced Americans, to work on a pressing national need - giving all students the reading skills they need to succeed," Strong continued. "There's no shortage of older adults - nearly 10,000 Americans turn 60 every day - and no shortage of kids who need help - half of our urban students never graduate from high school. We could be doing so much more to put these two generations together."

To download a copy of the research findings, please go to http://csd.wustl.edu/Publications/Documents/RP09-01.pdf .

About the Research

In 2006, researchers at the Center for Social Development at Washington University's Brown School of Social Work were awarded a grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies to evaluate the effects of the Experience Corps program on student reading outcomes. Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) provided data collection services.

Three school systems agreed to be part of the study, and 23 schools in Boston, New York City and Port Arthur, Texas, participated. At the beginning of the school year, teachers referred all students who needed assistance with reading. More than 1,000 students were referred, and parental consent to participate in the study was obtained for 81 percent of those referred. Those students were then randomly assigned to work with an Experience Corps tutor for one academic year or to a control group. All students were tested at the beginning and end of that academic year.

The Experience Corps program tutored 430 of these students, and 451 were in the control group. There were 332 first, 304 second, and 186 third graders, and 420 males and 402 females in the final data set. Analysis of pretest data collected by MPR showed that the Experience Corps students and control groups were equivalent on all measured characteristics.

The program succeeded in delivering the intervention to a large number of the students. About half of students received 30 to 49 sessions, and the mean number of sessions was 45. Three-quarters of the students received over 35 sessions, which represents about one session a week throughout the program period. When including only the students who received at least 35 sessions, a criterion that was chosen to indicate that the students received the intervention as intended, the effects appear to be stronger.

Data for the study came from three sources: interviews with the students, assessments completed by teachers, and school records. MPR interviewers assessed reading ability at the beginning and end of the school year in face-to-face interviews with the students. Standardized reading tests were used: the Woodcock Johnson word attack subscale (WJ-WA), which tests students' ability to sound out new words; the Woodcock Johnson passage comprehension subscale (WJ-PC), which tests reading comprehension; and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary test (PPVT-III), which tests vocabulary acquisition for young children.

At the beginning and end of the academic year, teachers completed assessments of grade-specific reading skills and classroom behavior. At the end of the year, school records were abstracted to ascertain demographics and other student characteristics, and tutors rated the quality of their relationships with students.

Study: Privatized Philly schools did not keep pace

Public middle-grades schools placed under private management in 2002 as part of a state-run overhaul of the Philadelphia School District did not keep pace with the rest of the city's public schools, according to a study published in the American Journal of Education.

The study, which tracked schools through 2006, found that test scores had improved in the privatized schools, but scores in the rest of the city's public schools improved at a much faster rate, leaving the privatized schools in the dust.

"By 2006, the achievement gap between the privatized group and the rest of the district was greater than it was before the intervention," says study author Vaughan Byrnes, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University. "Both groups improved, but the privatized schools improved at a slower rate."

Philadelphia became a national proving ground for public school privatization in 2002 when Pennsylvania state government officials took over the city's schools. As part of the restructuring effort, 45 of the worst performing schools were turned over to Edison Schools Inc. and several other private education management organizations. The rest of the city's schools remained under the control of the Philadelphia School District, which instituted its own reform efforts.

Byrnes' study analyzed reading and math scores from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test from 1997 to 2006 at 88 middle-grades schools. Most of the schools had either grades 6-8 or a K-8 configuration. The data allowed Byrnes to look at trend lines before and after the state intervention in both privatized and non-privatized schools.

"The schools placed under private management were significantly worse off than the rest of the district in 1997," Byrnes says. "But our data show that they were gaining on the rest of the district from 1997 to 2002—before the takeover." After the takeover, improvement at the privatized schools accelerated, but the rest of the district accelerated faster. As a result, the privatized schools were further behind the rest of the district by 2006 than they were before the takeover.

Byrnes says his results are consistent with previous research on Philadelphia school reform efforts.

Supporters of privatization have responded to previous critical findings by arguing that improvement in the privatized schools is stunted because these schools were the worst in the district. But this study casts serious doubt on that argument, because according to Byrnes' data, the privatized schools were not the district's worst.

"Five of the absolute worst schools in the district were restructured but remained under public control," Byrnes said. "Those schools did much better after 2002, outpacing the privatized schools, and perhaps even the rest of the district. That rules out the argument that the privatized schools improved more slowly because they were worse to start with."

Byrnes says that his study was not able to address potential differences in funding between the district and privatized schools.

"[T]here is no way to know whether the total per pupil funding was more or less in the district schools or the EMO (privatized) schools," Byrnes writes. "Therefore, the financial context of the school privatization is an issue that we were unable to examine here."

Middle school youth as young _as 12 engaging in risky sexual activity

HOUSTON – (April 8, 2009) – Middle school youth are engaging in sexual intercourse as early as age 12, according to a study by researchers at The University of Texas School of Public Health.

Christine Markham, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral science at the UT School of Public Health, and colleagues examined sexual risk behaviors among middle school students in a large southeastern U.S. urban public school district.

“This is one of the few school-based studies conducted with this age group to look at specific sexual practices in order to develop more effective prevention programs,” Markham said. “This study shows that although most seventh graders are not engaging in sexual risk behaviors, a small percentage are putting themselves at risk.”

In the study, Markham and colleagues defined sexual intercourse as vaginal, oral or anal sex. According to their research, by age 12, 12 percent of students had already engaged in vaginal sex, 7.9 percent in oral sex, 6.5 percent in anal sex and 4 percent in all three types of intercourse.

Markham said, “These findings are alarming because youth who start having sex before age 14 are much more likely to have multiple lifetime sexual partners, use alcohol or drugs before sex and have unprotected sex, all of which puts them at greater risk for getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or becoming pregnant.”

The study found one-third of sexually active students reported engaging in vaginal or anal sex without a condom within the past three months, and one-fourth had four or more partners. The more experienced students in all three types of intercourse were more likely to be male and African-American.

“We need to develop prevention programs that address the needs of students who are not yet sexually active in order to promote skills and attitudes to help them wait until they are older to have sex,” Markham said. “And we need to provide skills and knowledge related to condoms and contraception for youth who are already sexually active.”

The study recommends that sexually active students also need to receive accurate and factual information and services related to STDs and pregnancy testing, as well as skills for future abstention and risk reduction for those who intend to remain sexually active.

More than one-third of youth in the study reported engaging in precoital touching behaviors. Among the students who engaged in precoital behavior, 43 percent reported having engaged in sexual intercourse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80 percent of the 435,427 births to mothers ages 15 to 19 were the result of unintended pregnancies. According to the National Vital Statistics Report, birth rates among Hispanic and black teens remain higher than other racial/ethnic groups, including rates among those ages 10 to 14.

In 2000, youth between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for 9.1 million or 48 percent of all new STD cases, according to a report by the CDC. Minority youth also are disproportionately affected. The CDC’s 2006 STD Surveillance Report stated that minority racial and ethnic populations had higher rates of STDs when compared to whites and, although black teens represent only 17 percent of U.S. teenagers, they account for 70 percent of HIV/AIDS cases reported among teens. “We need more research to develop effective interventions, in particular for youth of color living in underserved areas,” Markham said.

“A common misperception among adolescents is that oral or anal intercourse is not as risky for STD transmission,” said Markham. “But transmission of non-viral and viral STDs can occur through all three types of intercourse when condoms are not used.”

These findings clearly indicate the need for open discussion about sexual health at the middle school level, Markham said. “It is critical that health education teachers and school nurses feel comfortable addressing these issues with their students and that their efforts are supported by parents and the school administration,” she added.
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April ERR #2


The 52-report series from The Education Trust is a tool for measuring the impact of federal stimulus funding on improving the academic opportunities and outcomes for all of our nation’s students

Last month, Congress made an unprecedented commitment to America’s public schools, passing the single biggest increase in federal education funding in our nation’s history. As the U.S. Department of Education begins to distribute the one-time funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the onus is on states to live up to that challenge and ensure that this investment boosts overall achievement and closes gaps.

To measure how effectively states are using the infusion of federal support, the public will need accurate, reliable data. The Education Trust’s Education Watch series assembles some of the most critical indicators of student achievement, attainment, and opportunity, providing a state-by-state snapshot of public education in America.

The data in these reports and the accompanying “quick look” chart mark the starting line in America’s “Race to the Top” – the federal effort to provoke bold, enduring progress in education. Education Watch reveals which states are farthest along the course, which are gaining on those leaders, and which are barely out of the starting blocks. Throughout the duration of ARRA spending, The Education Trust will provide updates on state progress as new data become available.

These reports reflect the most up-to-date information available across states. While some states may have more recent data on their own schools and reform efforts, Education Watch uses only data that are consistent across states. This allows for accurate comparisons and the ability to identify and learn from the leaders on each indicator. While no state is yet where it needs to be, especially in terms of educating lower income students and students of color, some are doing a much better job than others.

For example, on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):

• Delaware posted the biggest gains in fourth-grade reading performance for African-America, Latino, and lower income students. Delaware’s scores are up by 24 points for African Americans, 42 points for Latinos, and 25 points for lower income students since 1998.

• In eighth-grade math, Massachusetts leads the nation in gains overall since 2000, and was among the top gainers for Latinos and lower income students. However, state improvement among African-American students (6 points) lagged significantly behind the national average (16 points), resulting in a widening of the performance gap between African-American and white students. Massachusetts was one of just two states in which an achievement gap between student subgroups grew larger.

• Louisiana is the only state in which the gap between African-American and white students has narrowed significantly in both fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math.

Though each state is different, common patterns emerge from these NAEP data, indicating just how far we have to go to ensure that all young Americans have equal access to a high-quality education – especially lower income students and students of color, who now comprise almost half of all students in our nation’s public schools. Student performance is too low overall, varying dramatically between student groups, and the pace of improvement is far too slow.

“These reports provide a sobering look at the challenging work that lies ahead,” said Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust. “One thing is clear: To secure our economic future, we must confront educational inequities head-on and ensure that every school in America is ready to help every student advance farther, faster. The federal dollars are not a license to do business as usual; they come with a demand for change. We will never have this opportunity again, so the pressure is on for states to invest big in what works for kids and stop supporting the policies and programs that simply aren’t getting the job done.”

When evaluating student achievement data, many people are quick to attribute performance to the home lives of students. But the variation of results among states for the same groups of students proves that what happens in school matters immensely.

That’s why the Education Watch data on opportunity in education offer a valuable way to compare student achievement, taking into account the level of resources available to each student group. A look at these data show that lower income students and students of color – the ones who most often come to school with less – are consistently and systematically provided with less of everything that research and experience tell us matters most in school: less access to well-prepared, effective teachers; less access to challenging curriculum; and less funding.

For example:

• In Colorado, Latino students represent 20 percent of the state’s 11th- and 12th-grade students. But just seven percent of the students taking Advanced Placement exams in Calculus, English Language and Composition, and Biology are Latino.

• Schools in Pennsylvania’s high-poverty districts have $1,153 less to spend per pupil than schools in the state’s more affluent districts.

• In only three states – California, New York, and Indiana – does need-based state aid intended to help lower income families pay for college amount to more than 20 percent of the average tuition costs at the states’ four-year colleges and universities.

State reports:


Gaining new insights into mentoring programs for adolescent girls

Proteges can successfully gain a combination of emotional benefits, new skills development and healthy experiences with adult companionship

(Boston) -- A study of a Big Brothers Big Sisters of America formal mentoring program, which matched adolescent girls with women mentors, revealed that strong emotional support and improvement in girls psychosocial functioning from these relationships was a dominant theme coupled with the development of new skills and confidence through collaborations.

Unlike previous mentoring studies, this one explicitly examined the relational processes in adolescent girls' relationship with female adult mentors from the perspective of the participants themselves. Each adolescent and mentor pair was extensively interviewed separately and then together. Their recorded comments were analyzed and revealed that girls benefit from both skill development and gain vital emotional support.

Those findings appear in the Journal of Primary Prevention in a study led by Renee Spencer, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Social Work and Belle Liang, an associate professor at Boston College that was published last month.

"In the absence of much research on gender in mentoring, many have assumed that boys are mostly interested in doing activities with male mentors, which, by nature, may be more focused on skill building and problem solving whereas girls are more interested in developing emotionally-focused relationships with mentors," said Spencer. "However, in our study, we found that these girls' relationships with their mentors offered both emotional support and opportunities to develop skills and confidence through collaborations with their mentors in shared activities, such as doing homework together or learning to sing."

A key ingredient needed for the healthy psychological development in adolescents is a strong relationship with adults. For these young people living in single-parent homes or coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, community-based mentoring programs try to create such connections by matching them with unrelated adult volunteers in the hope that a caring and supportive relationship will develop.

The study, "She Gives Me a Break from the World": Formal Youth Mentoring Relationships Between Adolescent Girls and Adult Women," involved in-depth interviews of 12 pairs of girls, referred to as protégées, and women who had been in a mentoring relationships for between 2.5 to 11 years. They were in a formal mentoring program established through the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.

The girls, racially and ethnically diverse, ranged in age from 13 to 17 years, and were referred to the agency by friends and family members or child protective services case workers. The mentors, mostly single women, were White and 28 to 55-years of age. They met their protégées with parental consent, regularly three to four times per month for at least a year and routinely corresponded through emails and phone conversations.

While mentoring is often viewed as the adult offering support to the child, the study found that the collaboration of these 12 pairs was more of a two-way arrangement, in which "the adult partners or joins in the process of working with the child to meet her goals, offers scaffolding to expand the reach of the child and actively contributes to the learning, thereby enhancing the likelihood of success."

A thematic analysis of the three-part interviews (adolescent alone, adult alone and pair together), some initial themes were identified and grouped into five larger categories: shared activities, emotional support, companionship, collaboration and improvement in the girls' psychosexual functioning.

Emotional support was a dominant theme with some girls saying, "I can tell her all my secrets," and "we talk about everything," while the mentors commented about "she knows she can talk to me about anything," and "She knows that I'm always gonna be there… But I think she tells me some things….that she doesn't tell her mom." Still others cited an adolescent girl's anger issues and the need to be a calming influence.

In developing new skills and confidence the girls would praise how they learned new things and gained help with their studies.

The study acknowledges that the mentors ability to listen, respond with genuine thoughts and opinions while not passing judgment was in part because they were freed from the responsibilities of parenting.

"For many of these girls, their mentors had the luxury of being able to spend lengthy amounts of time alone with them, something their stretched parents were often less able to offer," the study noted.

For everyone involved, companionship – the spending time together -- meant "fun," a word repeated by both protégées and mentors. Although for some mentors, "fun" meant spending a lot of money on particular things, the authors noted that "our findings, however, seem to suggest that girls enjoy trying new things in the context of close and supportive relationships."

The findings from this study suggest that programs serving girls should be cautious about prioritizing emotional support over skill-building, or assuming that skill-building may undermine more collaborative or bi-directional relationships between female youth and adult program participants. Instead, attention should be given to integrating various types of support in interventions for girls, as emotional support and collaborative skill-building may play a synergistic role in supporting the positive development of female youth.
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April ERR #1

Sharp Growth in Suburban Minority Enrollment Yields Modest Gains in School Diversity

The student population of America's suburban public schools has shot up by 3.4 million in the past decade and a half, and virtually all of this increase (99%) has been due to the enrollment of new Latino, black and Asian students, according to an analysis of public school data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Once a largely white enclave, suburban school districts in 2006-07 educated a student population that was 41.4% non-white, up from 28% in 1993-94 and not much different from the 43.7% non-white share of the nation's overall public school student population. At the same time, suburban school districts have been gaining "market share"; they educated 38% of the nation's public school students in 2006-07, up from 35% in 1993-94.

Despite the sharp rise in the racial and ethnic diversity of suburban district enrollments overall, there has been only a modest increase in the racial and ethnic diversity of student populations at the level of the individual suburban school. For example, in 2006-07, the typical white suburban student attended a school whose student body was 75% white; in 1993-94, this same figure had been 83%. So at a time when the white share of student enrollment in suburban school districts was falling by 13 percentage points (from 72% in 1993-94 to 59% in 2006-07), the exposure of the typical white suburban student to minority students in his or her own school was growing by a little more than half that much-or 8 percentage points.

When it comes to increases in public school student enrollment, the suburbs are where most of the action has been over the past decade and a half. In 1993-94, city school districts educated a majority of the nation's minority students. That is no longer the case. The movement out of city schools has nearly exclusively been suburban school districts' gain.

The movement of minority students into suburban schools has had the overall effect of slightly reducing levels of ethnic and racial segregation throughout the nation's 93,430 public schools. Minority students on average are less segregated in suburban school districts compared with city school districts, so the shift toward suburban school districts tends to reduce national segregation levels.

The report also examines the changes since 1993-94 in individual suburban school districts. It lists the suburban school districts that have had the fastest growth in minority enrollment, as well as those with the highest levels of racial/ethnic segregation.

These findings are based on an analysis of the most recent available enrollment figures for the nation's public schools. The National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education collects this information and also classifies school districts as being suburban, city or town/rural districts.

Complete report:


Einstein scientists propose new theory of autism

Symptoms of the disorder may be reversible: Fever may hold clues

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have proposed a sweeping new theory of autism that suggests that the brains of people with autism are structurally normal but dysregulated, meaning symptoms of the disorder might be reversible.

The central tenet of the theory, published in the March issue of Brain Research Reviews, is that autism is a developmental disorder caused by impaired regulation of the locus coeruleus, a bundle of neurons in the brain stem that processes sensory signals from all areas of the body.

The new theory stems from decades of anecdotal observations that some autistic children seem to improve when they have a fever, only to regress when the fever ebbs. A 2007 study in the journal Pediatrics took a more rigorous look at fever and autism, observing autistic children during and after fever episodes and comparing their behavior with autistic children who didn't have fevers. This study documented that autistic children experience behavior changes during fever.

"On a positive note, we are talking about a brain region that is not irrevocably altered. It gives us hope that, with novel therapies, we will eventually be able to help people with autism," says theory co-author Mark F. Mehler, M.D., chairman of neurology and director of the Institute for Brain Disorders and Neural Regeneration at Einstein.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. It usually appears during the first three years of life. Autism is called a "spectrum disorder" since it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. It is estimated that one in every 150 American children has some degree of autism.

Einstein researchers contend that scientific evidence directly points to the locus coeruleus–noradrenergic (LC-NA) system as being involved in autism. "The LC-NA system is the only brain system involved both in producing fever and controlling behavior," says co-author Dominick P. Purpura, M.D., dean emeritus and distinguished professor of neuroscience at Einstein.

The locus coeruleus has widespread connections to brain regions that process sensory information. It secretes most of the brain's noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in arousal mechanisms, such as the "fight or flight" response. It is also involved in a variety of complex behaviors, such as attentional focusing (the ability to concentrate attention on environmental cues relevant to the task in hand, or to switch attention from one task to another). Poor attentional focusing is a defining characteristic of autism.

"What is unique about the locus coeruleus is that it activates almost all higher-order brain centers that are involved in complex cognitive tasks," says Dr. Mehler.

Drs. Purpura and Mehler hypothesize that in autism, the LC-NA system is dysregulated by the interplay of environment, genetic, and epigenetic factors (chemical substances both within as well as outside the genome that regulate the expression of genes). They believe that stress plays a central role in dysregulation of the LC-NA system, especially in the latter stages of prenatal development when the fetal brain is particularly vulnerable.

As evidence, the researchers point to a 2008 study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, that found a higher incidence of autism among children whose mothers had been exposed to hurricanes and tropical storms during pregnancy. Maternal exposure to severe storms at mid-gestation resulted in the highest prevalence of autism.

Drs. Purpura and Mehler believe that, in autistic children, fever stimulates the LC-NA system, temporarily restoring its normal regulatory function. "This could not happen if autism was caused by a lesion or some structural abnormality of the brain," says Dr. Purpura.

"This gives us hope that we will eventually be able to do something for people with autism," he adds.

The researchers do not advocate fever therapy (fever induced by artificial means), which would be an overly broad, and perhaps even dangerous, remedy. Instead, they say, the future of autism treatment probably lies in drugs that selectively target certain types of noradrenergic brain receptors or, more likely, in epigenetic therapies targeting genes of the LC-NA system.

"If the locus coeruleus is impaired in autism, it is probably because tens or hundreds, maybe even thousands, of genes are dysregulated in subtle and complex ways," says Dr. Mehler. "The only way you can reverse this process is with epigenetic therapies, which, we are beginning to learn, have the ability to coordinate very large integrated gene networks."

"The message here is one of hope but also one of caution," Dr. Mehler adds. "You can't take a complex neuropsychiatric disease that has escaped our understanding for 50 years and in one fell swoop have a therapy that is going to reverse it — that's folly. On the other hand, we now have clues to the neurobiology, the genetics, and the epigenetics of autism. To move forward, we need to invest more money in basic science to look at the genome and the epigenome in a more focused way."

Serious Vision Problems in Urban Preschoolers

In what is believed to be the first comprehensive eye disease study among urban pre-schoolers, Johns Hopkins investigators report that while vision problems are rare, they are more common than once thought. Also, they say, a small group of children with easily treatable visions problems go untreated, while others get treatments they don't need.

Writing in the April issue of the journal Ophthalmology, investigators from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say 5 percent of the nearly 2,300 Baltimore area children who were followed in the study, had refractive errors-a defect in the eye's ability to focus light-significant enough to require treatment, but only 1 percent actually were treated. Among 29 children who had a prescription for eyeglasses before entering the study, more than one-third didn't need eyeglasses.

Undetected and untreated, refractive errors can cause loss of visual acuity and eventually lead to amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes), which are hard or impossible to reverse after age 7.

In the study, more than half of the 1,268 black children (55 percent) had some refractive errors as did half (51 percent) of the 1,030 white children. Because overall, one in 20 children studied had a problem that is easily treated, the researchers suggest that pediatricians screen routinely during physicals and parents should insist on screening by age 4.

"The good news is that serious eye disease in preschoolers appears to be uncommon, but the bad news is that we're missing kids who need treatment and treating some children who don't need it," says investigator Michael X. Repka, M.D., deputy director of ophthalmology at Hopkins Children's.

A surprising additional finding in the report is that contrary to previous research suggesting that most infants will outgrow their farsightedness in the first few years of life, few children in the Baltimore study did outgrow it during their preschool years, making early diagnosis and treatment critical, says lead investigator David Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Hyperopia, or farsightedness, was the most common abnormality, occurring more often in white children (40 percent of 1,030) than in black children (31 percent of 1,268).

Anisometropia, a condition marked by a difference in vision between the two eyes, was more common in black children (18 percent) than in white children (11 percent). Black children also had more nearsightedness (6 percent) compared to 0 percent among white children.

Other findings:

- Only 3 percent of all children in the study had severe farsightedness, while only 0.6 percent had severe near-sightedness.

- Only 1 percent of black children and 1.5 percent of white children had a difference in vision between the two eyes (anisometropia) that required treatment.

- Fewer than 3 percent of children had serious astigmatism, an optical defect that can cause lazy eye, blurred vision, headaches, eye strain and fatigue.
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