Archive for April 2007

Behaviors that Affect Learning   Leave a comment

Reading to Young Children
Young children of well-educated mothers are much more likely to be read to every day by a family member than are children of less educated mothers…

Parental Involvement in Schools
The percentage of students whose parents reported involvement in their schools rose significantly between 1999 and 2003 across several measures, including attendance at a general meeting, a meeting with a teacher, or a school event, and volunteering or serving on a committee…

Watching Television
Black students are much more likely than white students to watch four or more hours of television per day on the average weekday. Among eighth graders in 2003, for example, 61 percent of black students watched four or more hours of television, compared with 24 percent of white students…

Learning Disabilities
Children covered by public health insurance are almost twice as likely as uninsured children and children with private insurance to be identified as having a learning disability (12 percent of children covered by public health insurance versus 6 percent of uninsured children and 7 percent of children with private insurance in 2004)…

In 2004, around one out of every 10 males ages three to 17 were reported to have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder by a doctor or other health professional…

After-School Activities
Between 2001 and 2005, the percentage of students participating in clubs, community service, and sports increased. In 2005, sports had the highest participation rate for after-school activities, with 31 percent of kindergarten through eighth grade students participating…

View entire file here …


Posted April 21, 2007 by Jack in Instruction

Is Out of School Time Critical for Students?   1 comment

School-age children and adolescents in the United States have a lot of discretionary time (6.5 to 8 hours per day). Participating in organized out-of-school time programs and activities is one constructive and safe way that children can spend their free time. These activities can provide supervision, fun, and opportunities to develop new skills and relationships with others. Research has shown that consistent participation in organized, high-quality out-of school time activities can have both educational and social/emotional benefits, and may have the most positive effects for youth who are most at risk. Understanding who participates is an important question to answer in order for policy makers, funders, and practitioners to identify gaps and target resources.

Race and Ethnicity Facts….
– White children participated in at least one out-of-school time activity at very high rates in the past 12 months; 83 percent of white children ages 6-11 and 81 percent of white adolescents ages 12-17 participated.
– Black children were less likely to participate than white children in the past 12 months; 65 percent of black children ages 6-11 and 72 percent of black adolescents ages 12-17 participated.
– Latino children participated the least in the past 12 months; 50 percent of Latino children ages 6-11 and 60 percent of Latino adolescents ages 12-17 participated.
– White children were more likely to participate in both clubs and sports.
– Black and Latino children were more likely to be in no activities compared with white children.

Read the entire article at Child Trends 2006

Posted April 21, 2007 by Jack in Instruction

Are smaller schools better for teachers and students?   Leave a comment

Teachers in the small public high schools cropping up in many U.S. cities find the human dimension of their jobs bringing both strains and rewards.

“About how many hours did you put in a week?” Starting at 8 in the morning, the faculty members at Ms. Madell’s new, small secondary school in New York City routinely worked till 6:30 or 7 at night. And then, after the teaching, planning, meeting, and tutoring, she and others went home many evenings to solitary thought and a heap of student work.

Now as a co-founder of a school not unlike her old one, where she plans to keep a hand in teaching while coaching her colleagues, the 39-year-old mother of two is about to ask a fresh band of teachers to shoulder similar burdens. The audacity of it makes her laugh.

“There’s no way I can do [that job] and be a parent,” she admitted.

A major strand in the current national push to improve secondary education is the movement to scale down schools into smaller, more personalized units, especially for students facing the greatest obstacles to success.

Hundreds of small schools and learning communities have cropped up in recent years, famously helped along by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $1.5 billion campaign to raise the numbers of students who graduate from high schools ready for college and work. (The foundation also helps support Education Week’s annual Diplomas Count report on graduation-related issues.)

The question prompted an eruption of laughter. But there was nothing funny about the answer teacher Jody Madell finally delivered.

Whatever promise the small-schools approach holds, though, there’s widespread agreement it won’t be realized without a sufficient supply of teachers who are up to a triple threat of challenges: urban teaching in the context of a start-up operation, often with a heavy dose of surrogate parenting thrown in.

And as Ms. Madell and many other small-schools educators can attest, ensuring that supply will be no simple task.

“Human capital is going to make or break this enterprise,” said Timothy S. Knowles, who directs the University of Chicago’s Center for Urban School Improvement, which opened its first small high school last September and plans several more. “Our view is human capital is gold.”

Many of the new small schools, especially the ones in cities, virtually guarantee teachers long hours as they struggle against the inadequate preparation of their students. Teachers pour their time, too, into shaping the new institutions, where they are obliged to wear a number of hats.

Ironically, it is the human dimension of small schools—precisely the attribute that experts see as their greatest strength—that can be the most draining. When a school is small enough for teachers and students to know each other well, teachers come face to face with the meager advantages available to the youngsters they teach.

“You can read the first paragraph of their biographies and be in tears,” said Christopher N. Maher, the founding principal of the Academy for College and Career Exploration, a small high school that opened in Baltimore in 2004. “If you are a teacher, especially in a small school, you feel it.”

Read this entire article at Education Week, by Bess Keller, at

Small Schools in Big Districts

New York City
1.1 million students
■ 184 separate small secondary schools have opened within the district’s governance structure since 2002, when the system made them a priority.
■ Another 25 or so such schools are expected to open by this fall.
■ Some 20 additional small schools have been operating since the early 1990s.
■ The newer schools generally enroll no more than 600 students, while the older ones generally have no more than 450 students.
■ 19 charter schools that include or will include the high school grades have opened.

Los Angeles
708,000 students
■ 143 “small learning communities,” or SLCs, have been approved for 23 of the district’s large high schools; three-quarters are operating.
■ The district’s SLCs enroll no more than 600 students.
■ By the end of the 2007-08 school year, all 31 remaining large high schools are to convert to the SLC structure.
■ Six separate small secondary schools operate under district governance.
■ 32 charter schools that include or will include the high school grades have opened.

415,000 students
■ About 50 “small learning communities” are currently operating.
■ 15 large high schools are on track to add another 60 or more SLCs within the next two to three years.
■ More than 20 separate small high schools are operating under district governance, with more planned.
■ 10 charter schools that include or will include the high school grades have opened.

SOURCE: New York City Department of Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, Chicago Public Schools

Posted April 21, 2007 by Jack in Instruction