Report Roundup for February 2004

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The Effectiveness of Out-of-School-Time Strategies in Assisting Low-Achieving Students in Reading and Mathematics: A Research Synthesis
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning

By analyzing more than 50 studies of after-school and summer programs, this report measures the effects of out-of-school-time (OST) programs on reading and mathematical achievement. The findings: OST activities had a small but statistically significant positive effect in both categories. Youth in early elementary grades were most likely to benefit from OST strategies to improve reading, while older students benefited more from support in math. 113 pages. Free online. Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014. (303) 337-0990,

Inside the Black Box: Exploring the “Content” of After-School

The Forum for Youth Investment

This policy brief assesses the role of after-school programs in fostering academic development and engagement in learning. (The authors note that there is some question whether after-school programs should be accountable for those principles at all.) The report weighs the merits of explicit and embedded learning programs, and discusses the “basics plus” approach to after-school learning programs, which includes components that teach youth skills beyond those that apply to the classroom. 7 pages. Free online. The Forum for Youth Investment, 7064 Eastern Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20012. (202) 207-3333,, click on “What’s New.”

Factors Associated with the Content of Sex Education in U.S. Public Secondary Schools

The Alan Guttmacher Institute

Patterns of Contraceptive Use Within Teenagers’ First Sexual Relationships

Child Trends

These two reports look at the growing number of school districts teaching abstinence as the only reliable method of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and the ramifications of this practice. The first study says that 35 percent of school districts that teach sex education teach abstinence as the only positive option outside marriage and mention contraceptives only in terms of their ineffectiveness. Guttmacher asserts that many districts may do this only because their programs are tied to federal funding restrictions; it notes that one of its surveys shows 91 percent of the public supports teaching contraception by 11th or 12th grade.

While the spread of abstinence-only education alarms advocates of comprehensive education, the standards of contraceptive education where it is practiced should be of equal concern. In the Northeast and the West, the two regions with the highest percentages of comprehensive programs in schools, fewer than half of sex education teachers reported that they teach the proper way to use condoms or identify places where youth can get birth control services.

The second study examines correlations between contraceptive use and teenagers’ first sexual relationships. Findings from data on 1,027 teens show that those who discussed contraception before having sex were more likely to use contraceptives, while those who had taken a virginity pledge were less likely to use them. The longer the romantic relationship, the less likely the youth were to use contraceptives. 9 pages each. Free online. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 120 Wall St., 21st Floor, New York, N.Y. 10005. (212) 248-1111,

Sexuality Education in the United States: A Decade of Controversy

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States

This compilation of essays on the field of sex education focuses on the past decade’s debate over methods, content and ideology. The contributors support comprehensive education, and most of the essays take aim at the growing number of abstinence-until-marriage programs. 48 pages. $9.50. SIECUS, 130 W. 42nd St., Suite 350, New York, NY 10036. (212) 819-9770,

Making Good Decisions About Confidentiality in Child Welfare
Legacy Family Institute, Every Child Matters

This report outlines the myriad confidentiality issues in child welfare. Each section briefly assesses the factors involved in particular aspects of confidentiality: opening court proceedings, sharing files with other child welfare professionals and speaking with the media, to name a few. The brief is a valuable reference on privacy issues for anyone in the child welfare field. 63 pages. Free online. Legacy Family Institute, 100 Commercial St., Suite 300, Portland, ME 04101.

National Service in America: Policy (Dis)Connections Over Time
Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement

This assessment of federally funded national service programs does an excellent job of encapsulating the historical support for and challenges facing the national service movement. Dating back to the Civilian Conservation Corps of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the concept of national service has always been popular with moderates in both parties. Nevertheless, service programs such as AmeriCorps and VISTA continue to face almost annual challenges from critics who question the merits of national service. 21 pages. Free online. The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, University of Maryland, 2101 Van Munching Hall, College Park, MD 20742. (301) 405-2790,

Who Are “Fragile Families” and What Do We Know About Them?

Center for Law and Social Policy

The number of out-of wedlock births in the United States remains high, particularly among Hispanics (40 percent) and African-Americans (70 percent), according to this summary of findings from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. But the vast majority of those children are born to parents who are involved with each other at the time of the birth. Eighty-two percent of unmarried parents are romantically involved, and 80 percent of unmarried fathers provide “financial or other” support during pregnancy. The authors conclude that, while unmarried parents are at greater risk of poverty and family dissolution, the period immediately before and after birth is the optimal time for intervention to help stabilize the families for the long run. 8 pages. Free online. Center for Law and Social Policy, 1015 15th St. NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005. (202) 906-8000,, search for report title.

Children in Foster Homes: How Are They Faring?

Child Trends

Drawing from two national surveys, this analysis reveals that children in foster care may be faring better than news media reports indicate. Foster children are just as likely as other children to have medical insurance; 89 percent of them report feeling that their caregivers care about them “quite a bit” or “very much.” Trouble spots for foster children appear to be early health (young foster children are more likely to be in poor health than their peers), school social interaction (fewer than two-thirds report “getting along with other students”) and cognitive development (59 percent were considered at high risk for a clinical level of impairment). 8 pages. Free online. Child Trends, 4301 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 350, Washington, DC 20008. (202) 572-6000,

Juvenile Arrests 2001
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Comparing juvenile crime data from the 1980s and ’90s with 2001, the most recent year available, produces mostly good news. Juvenile arrests for burglary declined 66 percent from 1980, and the number of juveniles arrested for murder dropped from a high of 3,800 in 1993 to 1,400 in 2001. While juvenile arrests in almost every crime index dropped between 2000 and 2001, though, arrests for prostitution increased 15 percent. 12 pages. Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 6000, Rockville, MD 20849. (800) 851-3420,

How Families and Communities Influence Youth Victimization

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Analyzing data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, author Janet Lauritsen found that more than half of violent events involving youth ages 12 through 17 occur in the home or within one mile of it. Youth living in single-parent homes are at a 33 percent greater risk of violent victimization than are their peers in two-parent homes. 12 pages. Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 6000, Rockville, MD 20849. (800) 851-3420,

Attending Kindergarten and Already Behind

Child Trends

Child Trends used National Center for Education Statistics data from 1998 to analyze kindergartners in three areas: health, cognitive achievement and social and emotional development. Among the more than 3.8 million kindergartners that year, 31 percent had health challenges; 20 percent lagged in a cognitive skills area, and 31 percent were behind in behavior or social skills. Of the 192,000 kids who lagged in all three, two-thirds were boys. 8 pages. Free online. Child Trends, 4301 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 350, Washington, DC 20008. (202) 572-6000,

Eating at School: How the National School Lunch Program Affects Children’s Diets

American Journal of Agricultural Economics

Using data from the 1994-1996 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, the authors found that participants in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) take in a higher percentage of fat as part of their daily calories (a fact already established by previous studies). However, new analysis also shows that participants take in significantly lower amounts of added sugar and significantly higher amounts of essential vitamins, both at lunch and at other meals. The authors speculate that one major factor in the relative health quality of NSLP lunches (compared with the lunches of those not in the program) is that the NSLP meals do not include soft drinks or fruit drinks. 15 pages. $19. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 415 South Duff Ave., Suite C, Ames, IA 50010. (515) 233-3202,