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Virginia Journal of Education


NewsFronts



Hispanic Population
Growing in Va. Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Eight states, including Virginia, have been named as "new" Hispanic states, in recognition of their growing population of Hispanic students, in a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center. The Hispanic school population in the U.S. is growing rapidly, nearly doubling from 1990 to 2006. There are now about 10 million Hispanic students in American K-12 public schools, making up about one in every five public school students in the country.

In the report, "new" Hispanic states are defined as those that have had an increase of at least 200 percent in their Hispanic populations and an increase of at least 200,000 Hispanic residents in the years 1980-2000. Joining Virginia on this list are Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington.

Some facts about the Hispanic public school population nationwide:

•Just over half of Hispanic students (52 percent) are enrolled in public schools in just two states, Texas and California.

• More than one-quarter (28 percent) of Hispanic students live in poverty, as compared with 16 percent of non-Hispanic students.

•The large majority (84 percent) of Hispanic students in American public schools were born in the U.S.

•70 percent of Hispanic students speak a language other than English at home.

•82 percent of Hispanic students speak English either speak only English at home or speak English "very well."


In Tough Economy,
Pre-K Support Growing

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Even in today's difficult economy, the majority of states in the U.S., including Virginia, have continued-and often increased-their support for pre-kindergarten programs, believing such programs to be good long-term investments, according to a report by Pre-K Now.

"Most state legislatures recognize quality pre-K as a smart policy that promises substantial returns to states, provides immediate economic relief to families, and improves the future prospects of young children and the communities in which they will live and work as adults," says Libby Doggett, Pre-K Now's executive director.

Some highlights from the report, called "Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2009":

•Virginia increased funding for the Virginia Preschool Initiative by 13 percent from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2009, opening up about 7,000 additional slots for children.

•State investments will grow by more than $309 million this year, providing new access to pre-K programs to 46,000 families.

•Eight states, plus the District of Columbia, are already offering or phasing in pre-K for all children. They are Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

•Two states tried to divert money planned for early childhood programs: Arizona and Kentucky.


Commission Urges Less
Emphasis on SAT, ACT

ARLINGTON, VA-While scores on the SAT and ACT have become a huge part of high school life, maybe they've been given unmerited importance: A study group brought together by the National Association for College Admission Counseling has issued a report recommending that colleges and universities rely less on such test scores, instead focusing on the high school curriculum and student achievement.

"[We] realized at the outset that a one-size-fits-all approach for the use of standardized tests does not reflect the realities facing our nation's many and varied colleges and universities," says William Fitzsimmons, dean of admission and financial aid at Harvard, who chaired the group, called the Commission on the Use of Standardized Tests in Undergraduate Admission.

Concerns have been raised that the current focus on SAT and ACT scores is causing a restructuring of high school education and feeding a growing private test preparation industry. Among colleges in the U.S. who have made the SAT and ACT optional are Wake Forest University, Smith College and Bates College; nearly 300 four-year colleges don't require test scores in order to be admitted.

The Commission's findings include:

•Tests such as the SAT and ACT aren't as closely linked to the high school curriculum as other tests, such as the College Board's AP exams and Subject Tests and International Baccalaureate exams. The SAT and ACT are not as accurate at predicting first-year and overall grades in college as some other tests.

•Tests such as the College Board exams don't have a lot of expensive private test preparation associated with them, partly because high school curricula are designed to get students ready for them.

•The public should be informed that research on private test-prep shows that students gain about 20-30 points on the SAT's old 1600-point scale, not the 100 or more points that many have been led to believe.

 


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