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Research Roundup:

Blacks, Hispanics Benefit Most From Extracurricular Study

Black and Hispanic students are more likely than their White counterparts to benefit from out-of-class learning activities, concludes a new study by the National Survey of Student Engagement.

The study, “Connecting the Dots: Multi-Faceted Analyses of the Relationships Between Student Engagement Results from the NSSE, and the Institutional Practices and Conditions ThatFoster Student Success,” examined collegiate student engagement from approximately 11,000 first-year and senior students at 18 baccalaureate-granting institutions, including four historically Black institutions and three Hispanic-serving institutions. It found that historically underserved students benefit more from college activities, such as  readings outside the classroom and involvement in projects with their peers, than White students in terms of earning higher grades and moving on to the next year of college.

“While student engagement is not a silver bullet, finding ways to get students to take part in the right kinds of activities helps to level the playing field, especially for those from low-income family backgrounds and others who have been historically underserved, increasing the odds that they will complete their program of study and enjoy the intellectual and monetary gains associated with the completion of the bachelor’s degree,” the report says.

Dual Enrollment Not Available Equally

Although 42 states have policies in support of dual enrollment programs, allowing students to finish high school while earning college credits, a new study suggests minorities are not taking benefiting from such policies.

The report, “Accelerated Learning Options: Moving the Needle on Access and Success,” suggests broadening the programs to make them more available to low-income and rural students. In Florida, for example, low-income Black and Hispanic students earned accelerated credit at lower rates than other students, according to a report by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Among the recommendations, the report says federal and state policy-makers should establish outreach programs that target at-risk students and provide alternatives for accelerated learning options. School districts and postsecondary institutions should also join policy-makers to endorse cost-effective learning programs for economically disadvantaged students, it says.

One Year Later: Governors’ Agreement Inconsistently Applied

A year after governors from all 50 states agreed to compile and report accurate data for high-school completion rates, the National Governors Association has come out with its first progress report, and apparently not all the states are on the same page.

The report, “Implementing Graduation Counts: State Progress to Date,” examines how the respective governors’ offices and state education agencies are going about implementing the Graduation Counts Compact, the agreement signed last year by the governors. The compact outlines a common formula for determining high school graduation rates, known as The Compact Formula.

As part of the agreement, the NGA Center for Best Practices will produce an annual report detailing the progress of each state. But so far, only 13 states have reported numbers using the formula. Washington will use a more sophisticated system to generate its state graduation rates, while Colorado and Maryland plan to implement versions of the formula. North and South Dakota, however, have no plans to use the formula at all. The other 39 states have promised to begin reporting rates by 2010.

 â€śIt is critical for states to provide guidance and training to school and district personnel who collect and enter student information,” says the report. “In addition, state leaders should enact and enforce state policies that promote accurate data collection … and must create policies and procedures for monitoring, verifying, and auditing data.”

— Diverse staff reports


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