Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The State of American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) Education in California 2014

With 723,225 American Indian/ Alaskan Native (AI/ANʼs), California has the largest AI/AN population of any other state — a 15.2 percent increase from the 2000 census. Two of the nation's largest populations of Indians reside in California — 54,236 AI/ANʼs in Los Angeles and 17,855 AI/ANʼs in San California.

The topic of AI/AN education in California is important. Historically, AI/AN students have been underserved and neglected by the stateʼs education system. This neglect impacts the future of tribal communities and their abilities to deal with an ever-changing world.

Furthermore, AI/AN students deal with challenges that are unique compared to any other marginalized communities. AI/AN student enrollment is often the smallest at the various public school institutions throughout the state. This leads to further marginalization when comparing the data to other racialized groups; AI/ANʼs educational needs become invisible and less important. 

These circumstances dictate that there is an urgent need to provide data on the engagement of AI/AN students in Californiaʼs education system.

The State of American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) Education in California 2014


9th- and 12th- grade AI/ANʼs have disproportionally high drop out rates and do not receive high school diplomas.

The drop out rate of the 2007-2008 AI/AN cohort was about 6% higher than the state average.
About 68% of the AI/AN 2007-2008 cohort received a high school diploma, which is 7% lower than the state average.

Although AI/AN make up 1.9% of Californiaʼs population they are underrepresented, in Californiaʼs three-tier higher education system.

40% of AI/AN high school graduates fulfill UC/CSU entrance requirements which is 13% lower than the state average.
At the community college level, AI/AN enrollment for the 2010-2011 school year was about .6%

At the CSU level, AI/AN enrollment for fall 2011 was about .4%. Within the UC system AI/AN enrollment for fall 2011 was about .7%.

Graduation rates at CSU are lower than the state average for the 2004 cohort.
The 4 year graduation rate for AI/ANʼs was 14% whereas the state rate was 17%. The 5 year graduation rate for AI/ANʼs was 35% whereas the state rate was 41%. The 6 year graduation rate for AI/ANʼs was 45% where as the state rate was 52%.

AI/AN personnel at all levels of public education are lacking.
At the K–12 level, the overall AI/AN personnel rates fall bellow the AI/AN student rate of enrollment.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Analysis of Kindergarteners Shows Wide Differences in School Readiness

Despite an increase in programs to level the playing field  to give disadvantaged children opportunities for preschool education, there is still a strong relationship between socio-economic factors and how well American children fare when entering kindergarten. In fact, new research shows that 44% of children enter kindergarten with one or more risk factors based on their home environment. These risk factors are incrementally associated with lower school readiness scores for children than those with no such circumstances.
The findings are part of the Kindergartners’ Skills at School Entry report ( released by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street. The report, commissioned by the Workshop and written byMathematica Policy Research Inc., provides an analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 focusing on the school readiness and abilities of beginning kindergartners.
The analysis examined four risk factors that have been associated with children’s development and school achievement: single parent households, mothers with less than a high school education, households with incomes below the federal poverty line and non-English speaking households. High-risk children (those with all four risk factors) were found to be almost a year behind their peers with no risk factors in their reading and math abilities.
The researchers also created composite readiness scores based on teacher ratings of children’s academic and social skills. Based on the researchers’ calculation, less than one-third of children were rated by teachers as “in-progress” or better on both reading and math skills.
“These nationally representative data show that at risk children start kindergarten well behind their more advantaged peers,” notes Jerry West, senior fellow at Mathematica and director of the study. “The evidence points to an opportunity to better support their healthy development before they enter kindergarten.”


Characteristics of the Few High School Graduates Who Don't Go To College

In recent years, there’s been a focus among states to establish standards that prepare students for college and careers. All too often, however, the discussion surrounding these standards largely focuses on college, and even more narrowly, four-year institutions. As a result, many have called for resources to be redirected to those high school students who have no intention of continuing their studies at college, let alone a four-year university. Thus, the thinking goes, high schools that are single-minded in preparing students for college, potentially alienate a swath of students who have no desire for post-secondary education in their future. 

But is such conventional wisdom accurate? Is college a distant thought for many high school graduates? Is a high school diploma the last educational milestone for a large number of graduating seniors?

Not quite. 

A Startling Discovery

In this analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Education Longitudinal Study (ELS, 2002), 
The Center for Public Education found that only one in five students drawn from this nationally representative sample of 15,000 did not enroll in college immediately  upon graduating from high school. 

Put another way, eight of out of every 10 students in the Class of 2004 made a beeline for college after receiving their diploma--- a rate that rose as more time, and perhaps job opportunities, passed. 

Eight years after graduating from high school, a mere 12 percent of the graduates from the Class of 2004 had not gone on to either a two- or four-year college. 

More info about non-college enrollees:

A Deeper Look

Non-College Goers Tended to be Male


About Half (46%) Have Parents Whose Highest Level of Education Was a High School Diploma


They Took Fewer Academic Courses While in High School Than Their College-Going Peers


They Spent Less Time on Homework Than Their College-Going Peers


Charter school results: not positive in reading, not significant for high school math, only very small effect sizes for elementary and middle school math

A recent meta-analysis of charter-school effects overstates its own findings, according to a new review published today.
Francesca López, an education professor at the University of Arizona, reviewed A Meta-Analysis of the Literature on the Effect of Charter Schools on Student Achievement for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.
The report was published in August by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington. The report, by Julian R. Betts and Y. Emily Tang, draws on data from 52 studies to conclude that charters benefited students, particularly in math.
“This conclusion is overstated,” writes López in her review. The actual results, she points out, were not positive in reading, not significant for high school math, and yielded only very small effect sizes for elementary and middle school math.
The reviewer also explains that the authors wrongly equate studies of students chosen for charter schools in a lottery with studies that rely on random assignment. Because schools that use lotteries do so because they’re particularly popular, those studies aren’t appropriate for making broad comparisons between charter and traditional public schools, López writes.
The review identifies other flaws as well, including the report’s assertion of a positive trend in the effects of charter schools, even though the data show no change in those effects; its exaggeration of the magnitude of some effects; and its claim of positive effects even when they are not statistically significant. Taken together, she says, those flaws “render the report of little value for informing policy and practice.”
“The report does a solid job describing the methodological limitations of the studies reviewed, then seemingly forgets those limits in the analysis,” López concludes.

Meeting the Challenge of Combating Chronic Absenteeism

"Meeting the Challenge of Combating Chronic Absenteeism: Impact of the NYC Mayor’s Interagency Task Force on Chronic Absenteeism and School Attendance and Its Implications for Other Cities”

What is this study about?

The study examined the impact of the strategies developed by an interagency task force in New York City to combat chronic absenteeism in public schools. The strategies involved efforts both inside and outside of schools and aimed to improve coordination between city agencies and schools, offered a mentoring program for students (Success Mentors), and used data to identify and monitor chronically absent students, as well as students at risk of being chronically absent.
Researchers assessed the impacts of the strategies after each year of participation in the interventions. Researchers also assessed the impact of the strategies among students who were eligible for free and reduced-price lunch and students who were in temporary shelters. In addition, the study included an analysis of Success Mentors that compared students who participated in the Success Mentors program to students who did not.

What did the study find?

None of the analyses presented in this study meet WWC standards, and therefore, the study findings are not presented in this WWC report.


Balfanz, R., & Byrnes, V. (2013). Meeting the challenge of combating chronic absenteeism: Impact of the NYC Mayor’s Interagency Task Force on chronic absenteeism and school attendance and its implications for other cities. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University School of Education.

Monday, September 29, 2014

After-school exercise program enhances cognition in 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds

A nine-month-long, randomized controlled trial involving 221 prepubescent children found that those who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day after school saw substantial improvements in their ability to pay attention, avoid distraction and switch between cognitive tasks, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

Half of the study subjects were randomly assigned to the after-school program and the rest were placed on a wait list. All participants underwent cognitive testing and brain imaging before and after the intervention.

"Those in the exercise group received a structured intervention that was designed for the way kids like to move," said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Charles Hillman, who led the study. "They performed short bouts of exercise interspersed with rest over a two-hour period."

The intervention, called FITKids, was based on the CATCH exercise program, a research-based health promotion initiative that was initially funded by the National Institutes of Health and now is used by schools and health departments across the U.S.

The children in the FITKids exercise group wore heart-rate monitors and pedometers during the intervention.
On average, kids' heart rates corresponded with a moderate-to-vigorous level of exercise intensity, and they averaged about 4,500 steps during the two-hour intervention," Hillman said. The children were active about 70 minutes per day.

As expected, fitness increased most in the intervention group over the course of the study.
"We saw about a six percent increase in fitness in children in the FITKids intervention group," Hillman said. Fitness improved less than one percent in the wait-list control group, he said.

Children in the exercise group also demonstrated substantial increases in "attentional inhibition," a measure of their ability to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. And they improved in "cognitive flexibility," which involves switching between intellectual tasks while maintaining speed and accuracy. Children in the wait-list control group saw minimal improvements in these measures, in line with what would be expected as a result of normal maturation over the nine months, Hillman said.

"Kids in the intervention group improved two-fold compared to the wait-list kids in terms of their accuracy on cognitive tasks," he said. "And we found widespread changes in brain function, which relate to the allocation of attention during cognitive tasks and cognitive processing speed. These changes were significantly greater than those exhibited by the wait-list kids.

"Interestingly, the improvements observed in the FITKids intervention were correlated with their attendance rate, such that greater attendance was related to greater change in brain function and cognitive performance," Hillman said.

The study did not distinguish improvements that were the result of increased fitness from those that might stem from the social interactions, stimulation and engagement the children in the intervention group experienced, Hillman said.

"Other research at Georgia Regents University led by Catherine Davis has actually used social and game-playing as their control group, and showed that the cognitive effects of their physical activity intervention are above-and-beyond those that are gained just through social interactions," he said.

The FITKids program is designed to get children socially engaged in exercise, which is part of what makes it an effective intervention, Hillman said.

"The fact is that kids are social beings; they perform physical activity in a social environment," he said. "A big reason why kids participate in a structured sports environment is because they find it fun and they make new friends. And this intervention was designed to meet those needs as well."

Intervention Needed for High School Latino Students in Preparing for College

Several factors contribute to a disproportionately lower Latino participation in college education. Foremost among those factors are policies that encourage quick job placement over career development, lack of understanding of the benefits of a college degree, lower expectations for Latino students, poor financial planning, and lack of guidance. 

A review of the literature shows that the strong work ethic imbued by Latino culture correlates with negative outcomes in college enrollment and completion. Therefore, intervention is required to create positive outcomes. 

Using Upward Bound as a model for intervention, several types of intervention and their effects are suggested and examine