Report Supports Early Arts Education: A new report from the National Endowment for the Arts looks at research on how the arts affect young children, from birth to age 8. “The Arts in Early Childhood: Social and Emotional Benefits of Arts Participation” synthesizes findings from 18 reports in psychology and education research journals (from 2000 to 2015). The news is good. In one study, researchers used data from the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort to examine how family routines, like singing songs and playing with blocks, was associated with better school readiness and social-emotional skills.
High School Graduation Rate at 82.3%, Highest Ever Recorded: According to data released by the National Center for Education Statistics, students are graduating from high school at a higher rate than ever before. The nation’s high school graduation rate hit 82.3% in the 2013-14 school year, the highest level since states adopted a new, uniform way of calculating graduation rates five years ago. Graduation rates have continued to climb for four consecutive years, reflecting continued progress among America’s high school students. There were gains among almost all the recorded subgroups (racial/ethnic minorities, low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities), and the achievement gap for black and Hispanic students continues to narrow.
DoEd Releases New Education Scorecard: DoEd releases an updated scorecard comparing the earnings of college graduates with the cost of attending a higher education institution. Researchers found the number of students able to repay their loans had decreased since the 2000-2001 school year, and the inability to repay loans had increased at a greater rate for students who graduated from for-profit colleges. Additionally, though students increasingly enrolled in postsecondary institutions and took out higher loans to do so, they earned less than the 2000-2001 graduates.
Expanded Juvenile Justice Protections Linked to Lower Recidivism: The Harvard Kennedy School and the National Institute of Justice post a report on juvenile criminal justice reform. The authors found that 18- to 24-year-olds are more likely to engage in risk-seeking and criminal behavior than older adults; this was attributed to their cognitive capacities not yet being fully developed. Additionally, the authors found that young adults experience higher rates of prison recidivism than older offenders. Recommendations from the report include extending the age limit of juvenile justice courts to 21-year-olds and providing gradually diminishing protections until age 25. Additionally, the authors recommend placing young adults in specialized housing to facilitate access to education, employment, and behavior modification programs.
Education Data Sometimes Inaccessible: The American Institute for Research releases a study examining how states report information on college and career readiness. The study used a variety of measures, including ACT and SAT scores, AP and IB data, and overall rates of student success. The researchers found the data were not easily accessible or comprehensible to the general public. They recommend states publicly report education data for greater transparency and accountability. Also, states should expand the number of indicators they use, including data on literacy and rates of completion of core courses.
College Courses in High School Increase Postsecondary Success: The nonprofit organization Achieve publishes a report on how to integrate college credit courses into high school curricula. The report describes the three most common approaches currently used, including advanced placement courses, the international baccalaureate program, and the ability to take postsecondary courses while still in high school. The authors found that high school students who completed a college credit-earning program were more likely than their peers to enroll and graduate from a postsecondary institution. Recommendations include requiring high schools to collect and publicly report data on college credit-earning programs, including school performance report cards and the number of students (disaggregated by demographic group) who participate in those programs.
Youth Truancy Linked to Health Issues, Learning Disabilities: Attendance Works and the Healthy Schools Campaign issue a report on the effects of low school attendance on young students. The report found that missing school early in a student’s life can disrupt math and literacy skill development. The authors found that conditions such as asthma, learning disabilities, or mental health issues were among the primary reasons young students missed school. They recommend schools partner with local health experts and organizations to address health-related concerns and solutions with parents. Further recommendations include tracking students with chronic tardiness and absences, identifying reasons they miss class, and instituting systems of support to help students attend school more regularly.
Incarcerated Girls Found to Have Higher Rates of Emotional Problems: The National Women’s Law Center releases a report on the status of girls and young women in the juvenile justice system. The authors found that from 1996 to 2011, the arrest rate declined by 57% for boys and 42% for girls. They also found that girls in juvenile facilities experienced higher rates of mental and emotional problems compared with boys. The authors recommend providing temporary respite care for girls involved in domestic violence, decriminalizing prostitution for minors, and increasing coordination with child welfare agencies to better address girls’ mental and emotional needs.
Contrasting Views of High School Prep: The Achieve nonprofit organization posts the results of a survey on college readiness. The researchers interviewed parents of recent graduates from public high schools and found that 73% of parents indicated public high schools had adequately prepared their children for postsecondary education. In contrast, the survey found that 53% of students graduating from public high schools thought themselves prepared and only 35% of college instructors rated graduates from public high school as prepared for postsecondary education.
High Student Career Choice Affected by Personal Experiences: The Manufacturing Institute releases a report on how students make career decisions. The authors analyzed results of a survey of high school teachers and students in career and technical education programs and found that students’ career choices were most strongly influenced by their own personal experiences and interests. The authors recommend that businesses, educators, and schools expand access to work-based learning programs, increase participation in career and technical student organizations, and promote of industry-based credentials to provide students with more options.
DoEd Toolkit Addresses Chronic High School Absenteeism: DoEd posts a toolkit on how to curtail chronic school absenteeism. Researchers found a pattern of chronic absences, which affect between 5 million and 7.5 million students per year and puts students at a higher risk of falling behind and dropping out of school. The toolkit provides action steps for reducing the number of absences, including collecting and tracking data on chronically absent students, providing academic and emotional support for frequently absent and at-risk students, and providing positive messages about staying in school.
Young Adults, Children ER Visits Caused by Dietary Supplements: The New England Journal of Medicine publishes a study on emergency department visits related to the use of dietary supplements. Dietary supplements are products that are ingested with the intent of adding nutritional value to a person’s diet and include vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other products that come in the form of tablets, capsules, powders, drinks, and energy bars. The study, which analyzed data from emergency departments across the country over nine years, estimates that each year, approximately 23,000 emergency department visits were attributed to complications related dietary supplement use. The authors also found that emergency department visits related to dietary supplements were most common among adults ages 20 to 34 and unsupervised children. According to the study, the most common reasons for emergency department visits were heart problems related to weight-loss or energy supplements.
Individualized Learning Plans Prepare High School Students for College: The National Association for College Admission Counseling publishes a report on how individualized learning plans (ILP) are being used to help high school and junior high students prepare for postsecondary education. The authors of the report, who conducted a review of ILP policies, found that all 50 states have initiatives encouraging college and career readiness. Additionally, the authors surveyed a random sample of school personnel and found that ILPs were not being used effectively by any personnel other than college counselors. The authors recommend training and tracking school personnel use, implementation, and evaluation of ILPs.