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Morning Announcements: August 12, 2011

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August 12, 2011 04:19 pm

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For the first time, California reported the state’s eighth-grade dropout rate, shedding light on information that tends to be not been well recorded. The report found 3.5 percent of eighth-graders dropped out before they would have entered ninth grade, the Los Angeles Times reported. The information is a part of a system that enables officials to track students individually. Overall, nearly 75 percent of California high school students graduated after four years, while about 18 percent dropped out.

Bullying and its effects on students emotionally have been in the news a great deal over the past year, however, the Los Angles Times reported today on a new study that shows it can cause academic troubles as well. The study of over 7,000 ninth-graders and nearly 3,000 teachers randomly selected in Virginia showed schools with an intense bullying atmosphere had passing rates on standardized tests that were 3 to 6 percent lower than other schools.

In other news about students in Virginia, at least three in five schools in the state failed to meet annual federal benchmarks under No Child Left Behind, staff officials said Thursday, according to the Washington Post. Sixty-two percent of Virginia’s public schools fell short of goals in math and reading, compared with 39 percent the year before.

The City Paper in Philadelphia reported on a study showing the city had the most “separate and unequal” schools in America. Philadelphia had the largest academic gap between black and white children – the average score for a black student was in the 21 percentile, while an average white student tested in the 66 percentile on average. Other metropolitan areas that came in behind Philadelphia were Chicago, Newark, Buffalo, Milwaukee, Cleveland, New York, and Pittsburgh.

The New York Times ran a feature story on a new program in New York City that takes school subjects, such as history, and turns them into a rap in an effort to better prepare high school students for the Regents exams. The Times reports that the Regents exams’ questions are “straight out of a 1950s textbook,” with the wording remaining nearly the same for decades. This new program attempts to bring street culture into the classroom to gain the interest and attention of students.

West Virginia is starting a pilot program called “Books on the Bus” that will allow students to access electronic books while riding to school on the school bus to encourage reading. The program will launch in rural communities, and funding will buy equipment and establish a digital library on iPod Touchs, according to the Associated Press.

The Times Union in New York reports students are saying that less state testing is going to harm them in the long run. The state Education Department reduced the number of Regents exams it offers in January and August for cost-cutting measures, which particularlly harms students in urban districts. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s offices announced he and anonymous donors would personally fund the $1.5 million necessary to bring back the January tests, which “are considered a lifeline for at-risk students who might need to take the exams multiple times,” the Times Union reported. Nearly 2,400 of the 3,454 students who graduated in New York City between January and March of this year took the exams in January in order to graduate – roughly 80 percent were black or Hispanic, according to the newspaper.

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