Kalamazoo Promise Program

Did free college save this city?, By Simon Montlake, December 17, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Tracy Zarei has wanted to teach children ever since she was in the second grade. She knew she would have to go to college to become a teacher.  ‘She was a straight-A student,’ says her mother, Sheri, who was working double shifts in a nursing home to pay rent on their mobile home. ‘She cried when she got her first B.’  Then one day Tracy’s world shifted. When her mother returned home from work, Tracy handed her a note. ‘She said, ‘Mom, you’re going to be disappointed,’ ‘ recalls Sheri, who thought it must be a traffic ticket. Instead it was a positive pregnancy test. Antonio Jr. was born in March 2005. Tracy was a junior in high school.  For many teenage mothers, this is when school ends and hardship begins. By age 22, only half of all single mothers in the United States receive a high school diploma, compared with 90 percent of their peers…”

Early Childhood Education

A Nobel Prize winner says public preschool programs should start at birth, By Emma Brown, December 12, 2016, Washington Post: “Nobel Prize winner James Heckman’s research has played an important role in establishing that high-quality public preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds can more than pay for itself over the long term, as low-income children who attend are more likely to live productive lives. It’s an economic argument that has persuaded lawmakers from both parties to support early education initiatives.  Now Heckman has released new research showing that the return on investment is even higher for high-quality programs that care for low-income children from infancy to age 5…”

Head Start Programs

  • Head Start is underfunded and unequal, according to a new study, By Joe Helm, December 14, 2016, Washington Post: “Head Start, the federal program that provides education, nutrition and health services to low-income children and their families, is not adequately funded and is administered so differently from state to state that children do not benefit equally, according to a new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research…”
  • Head Start’s state-to-state gaps noted in most comprehensive report card yet, By Ellen Powell, December 14, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Head Start just received its first nationwide report card – and improving consistent quality is at the top of the agenda.  In the most comprehensive study of the program yet, ‘State(s) of Head Start,’ released Wednesday, researchers from the National Institute for Early Education Research, at Rutgers University, looked at data on Head Start programs from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories. The study calls for a revived discussion of how Head Start can serve all children in poverty. Increasing funding is a significant part of that conversation, the study’s authors say, noting that programs cannot serve all children – and serve them well – with their current limited resources…”
  • Is Head Start working for low-income latino kids? Depends on the state, By Suzanne Gamboa, December 14, 2016, NBC News: “Quality preschool can greatly benefit low-income children and families, yet the three states with the greatest numbers of Latino residents fell below national averages on enrollment and other measures in a state-by-state report of Head Start programs. On some measures, though, the states beat the national average. The evaluation by the National Institute for Early Education Research, NIEER, and Rutgers Graduate School of Education found great inconsistency among states in Head Start and Early Head Start programs, products of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

There’s a hunger problem on America’s college campuses, By Katie Lobosco, December 6, 2016, CNN Money: “Montclair State University’s food pantry is tucked away down a maze of hallways in the student center. Like the hunger problem on campus itself, the pantry is not quite out in the open.  It opened on the New Jersey college’s campus in April, after administrators started hearing from students who said they were hungry and didn’t have enough money for food. They surveyed students, finding that more than half said they or someone they know experiences ‘food insecurity’ — the lack of access to affordable, nutritious food…”

US High School Graduation Rate

The high school graduation rate reaches a record high — again, By Anya Kamenetz and Cory Turner, October 17, 2016, National Public Radio: “The high school graduation rate in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 83 percent in the 2014-2015 school year, President Obama announced today, marking the fifth straight record-setting year. Achievement gaps have narrowed even as all boats have risen. Graduation rates range from 90 percent for students who identify as Asian/Pacific Islanders to 64 percent for students with disabilities…”

Racial Graduation Gap – Wisconsin

Wisconsin posts largest white-black graduation gap, By Erin Richards, October 17, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin’s high school graduation rate of 88.4% in 2015 was 6th highest nationally, according to new federal data that revealed a record high U.S. graduation rate Monday, but the state retains the unfortunate distinction of being No. 1 for the widest graduation-rate gap between white and black students. Wisconsin also has the 10th highest gap between white and Hispanic students graduating in four years, an analysis by the Journal Sentinel showed…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

More colleges open food pantries to address campus hunger, October 14, 2016, National Public Radio: “At $68,000 per year, George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is one of the most expensive schools in the country, and yet some students — most of whom receive financial aid — still don’t have enough to eat every week. The university, bolstered by a national survey by the College and University Food Bank Alliance, discovered that nearly half of its student population matched the national rate of 48 percent of respondents who experienced food insecurity…”

Academic Achievement and Poverty – Ohio

Poverty link remains constant in Ohio students’ poor test scores, By Jim Siegel, Sunday October 9, 2016,  Columbus Dispatch: “Changes to state testing and district report cards gave schools plenty of new data to absorb this summer, but one constant remained. Regardless of which tests students are taking or if more districts are seeing D’s or F’s on their report cards, the results continue to show a strong correlation with poverty levels…”

Low-income Students and Financial Aid for College

Many low-income students don’t know they can get money for college, survey shows, By Karen Farkas, October 4, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Many low-income high school students do not know they can receive money for college, according to a report by the National College Access Network.  A survey showed students who did not apply for financial aid did not know what aid is and did not know how they could get it.  Promoting and providing help to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the primary mission of the organization and its members, is not enough, the group said…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In Connecticut, a wealth gap divides neighboring schools, By Elizabeth A. Harris and Kristin Hussey, September 11, 2016, New York Times: “The two Connecticut school districts sit side by side along Long Island Sound. Both spend more than the national average on their students. They prepare their pupils for the same statewide tests. Their teachers, like virtually all the teachers in the state, earn the same high marks on evaluations.  That is where the similarities end: In Fairfield, a mostly white suburb where the median income is $120,000, 94 percent of students graduate from high school on time. In Bridgeport, the state’s most populous and one of its poorest cities, the graduation rate is 63 percent. Fifth graders in Bridgeport, where most people are black or Hispanic, often read at kindergarten level, one of their teachers recently testified during a trial over school funding inequities…”

Summer Programs for Children

New evidence that summer programs can make a difference for poor children, By Emma Brown, September 7, 2016, Washington Post: “During their long, languid summers, lots of children forget the lessons they learned in school. But the hot empty months pose an especially big academic hurdle for poor children, whose families might not have time or money for camps or enrichment activities.  Now new research suggests that school districts can stave off the so-called summer slide by offering free, voluntary programs that mix reading and math instruction with sailing, arts and crafts and other summer staples. The research also shows, perhaps unsurprisingly, that students have to attend the programs regularly to reap the benefits…”

 

Chronic School Absenteeism

  • Chronic absenteeism hinders students, By Annysa Johnson, September 6, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The overwhelming majority of U.S. school districts — urban, suburban and rural — experience some degree of chronic absenteeism that puts students at academic risk, according to a study released Tuesday.  But half of all chronically absent students are enrolled in 4% of the nation’s school districts and 12% of its schools, including many in Wisconsin. And it disproportionally affects students of color, those who are poor and those diagnosed with learning disabilities…”
  • The long-term consequences of missing school, By Mikhail Zinshteyn, September 6, 2016, The Atlantic: “The precocious teen who’s too cool for school—earning high marks despite skipping class—is a pop-culture standard, the idealized version of an effortless youth for whom success comes easy.  Too bad it’s largely a work of fiction that belies a much harsher reality: Missing just two days a month of school for any reason exposes kids to a cascade of academic setbacks, from lower reading and math scores in the third grade to higher risks of dropping out of high school, research suggests…”

Achievement Gap – Oregon

Oregon test scores Show persistent achievement gaps based on race, income, By Rob Manning, September 8, 2016, Oregon Public Broadcasting: “Standardized test scores released Thursday show Oregon students improved, but only by one percentage point, on average, compared to last year.  The Smarter Balanced exams continue to show enormous achievement gaps based on race…”

Kindergarten Readiness Gap

  • Study: Poor kindergartners are catching up, By Lauren Camera, August 26, 2016, US News and World Report: “After decades of exponential growth in the gap of kindergarten academic readiness between poor students and their wealthier peers, that fissure is finally closing.  Between 1998 and 2010, the difference in kindergarten readiness between high- and low-income children narrowed by 10 percent to 16 percent, according to a study published Friday in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.  Previously, that academic achievement gap between poor and wealthy children had grown by about 40 percent since the 1970s…”
  • Low-income kindergartners are closing the achievement gap, reversing a decades-old trend, By Emma Brown, August 26, 2016, Washington Post: “Low-income kindergartners are entering school with stronger math and reading skills, narrowing the academic gap with their affluent peers and reversing a decades-old trend, according to research released Friday.  The good news surprised researchers, who had expected to see school-readiness gaps growing — particularly given the broad societal trends of increasing income inequality and economic segregation…”

Career Pathways Program – Arkansas

This welfare reform program could be a model to help impoverished college students, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel,  August 31, 2016, Washington Post: “When Will Bradford enrolled at Northwest Arkansas Community College in January 2015, it had been 15 years since he had stepped foot in a classroom. He had taken a few college classes after high school but dropped out in a matter of weeks.  ‘I just didn’t have the motivation,’ Bradford, 35, recalls. But with two young boys to care for, getting an education took on a new importance, especially if it meant earning more money. Even with his newfound motivation, Bradford was no less intimidated. ‘I was nervous about how much work would be involved and whether I was overdoing it with a full-time job, but a lot of it was just getting back into the school system,’ he said.  Enter Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative, a program funded by the federal welfare program, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF, that provides academic and social services to low-income parents attending state community colleges and technical centers…”

High School Graduation Rate – Los Angeles, CA

Crash course in credit recovery yields best-ever graduation rate of 75% for L.A. schools, By Howard Blume and Sonali Kohli, August 10, 2106, Los Angeles Times: “The star of an annual kickoff event for the new school year in Los Angeles was a number: 75%, the highest graduation rate ever tabulated by the nation’s second-largest school system. That achievement, announced by L.A. Unified Supt. Michelle King on Tuesday at Garfield High School, brought acclaim from an audience of administrators and dignitaries, but also led some to wonder again whether such improvement is real.  The milestone represents a breathtaking turnaround between December and June…”

Elite Colleges and Low-Income Students

Wealthy universities are doing a poor job helping low-income students, report says, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, August 4, 2016, Washington Post: “The top 4 percent of colleges and universities hold three quarters of all endowment wealth in higher education, yet four in five of those 138 schools expect the neediest families to hand over more than 60 percent of their income to cover the cost of attendance, according to a report released Thursday by the Education Trust…”

Childhood Literacy

Where books are all but nonexistent, By Alia Wong, July 14, 2016, The Atlantic: “Forty-five million. That’s how many words a typical child in a white-collar familywill hear before age 4. The number is striking, not because it’s a lot of words for such a small human—the vast majority of a person’s neural connections, after all,are formed by age 3—but because of how it stacks up against a poor kid’s exposure to vocabulary. By the time she’s 4, a child on welfare might only have heard 13 million words.  This disparity is well-documented. It’s the subject of myriad news stories and government programs, as well as the Clinton Foundation’s ‘Too Small to Fail’ initiative, all of which send the message that low-income parents should talk and read to their children more. But these efforts to close the ‘word gap’ often overlook a fundamental problem. In high-poverty neighborhoods, books—the very things that could supply so many of those 30 million-plus words—are hard to come by. In many poor homes, they’re nonexistent…”

Student Homelessness in Madison, WI

Shelter to school: For homeless 6-year-old, kindergarten provides stability in an otherwise chaotic life, By Doug Erickson and Dean Mosiman, July 17, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “Six-year-old K’won Watson cries as his mother rouses him at the Salvation Army homeless shelter in Madison. He had wanted more sleep and will spend much of the school day yawning.  It is March, and K’won is in kindergarten — one of the hundreds of students who are homeless in Madison on any given day.  He and his infant brother, Amir, and their mother, Alicia Turner, 25, are living at the shelter in a dormitory-style room that is clean but spare. To add some warmth, Turner has decorated the door with three drawings she’s done with colored markers — two of butterflies, one of a fruit basket.  Like his older brother, Amir wakes up cranky, too. Turner changes his diaper while sending K’won to brush his teeth in restrooms shared by 18 families…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

Four in 10 UC students do not have a consistent source of high-quality, nutritious food, survey says, By Teresa Watanabe and Shane Newell, July 13, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “UC Irvine student Chris Tafoya admits that he’s often hungry and doesn’t eat the nutritious foods he should. On his worst days, the 20-year-old Los Angeles native said he would simply go to sleep early to quiet the hunger pangs.  Other times, he would eat instant ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No matter that each serving is packed with sodium and fat; at less than 50 cents each, it was affordable for Tafoya, who has balked at asking his low-income relatives for help…”