Category Archives: Schools K-12

Food Fight: Small team of state examiners no match for schools that divert student meal funds

Source: Jim Sweeney, California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes, February 6, 2013

Squeezed by years of unrelenting budget cuts, some California school districts are illegally dipping into student meal funds, misappropriating millions of dollars intended to feed California’s poorest children.

In recent years, in cases that seldom receive any public attention, the California
Department of Education (CDE) has ordered eight districts to repay nearly $170 million to student meal programs. Perhaps more troubling, department officials candidly acknowledge they have no idea how big the problem may be and fear they may have uncovered only a hint of the ongoing abuse, an investigation by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes has found.

The uncertainty reflects a challenged oversight system designed by the federal government, but carried out by a small, overmatched team of state examiners who are mostly nutritionists and dietitians, not accountants. Nutritional standards are their top priority and the system is set up to be collaborative, with prearranged inspections of cafeterias and food service operations. Perhaps as a result, most of the recent investigations have been triggered by whistleblowers.

…Cost-saving shortcuts included serving processed rather than fresh foods, short lunch periods, rundown cafeterias and insufficient staff to properly plan and manage an optimum food service operations…

Projections of Education Statistics to 2021

Source: William J Hussar, Tabitha M. Bailey, National Center for Education Statistics, NCES 2013008, January 2013

From the abstract:
This publication provides projections for key education statistics. It includes statistics on enrollment, graduates, teachers, and expenditures in elementary and secondary schools, and enrollment and earned degrees conferred expenditures of degree-granting institutions. For the Nation, the tables, figures, and text contain data on enrollment, teachers, graduates, and expenditures for the past 14 years and projections to the year 2021. For the 50 States and the District of Columbia, the tables, figures, and text contain data on projections of public elementary and secondary enrollment and public high school graduates to the year 2021. In addition, the report includes a methodology section describing models and assumptions used to develop national and state-level projections.

Education Ranking Systems Are Based on Varying Measures of Success

Source: Laura Bornfreund, New America Foundation, Early Ed Watch blog, January 28, 2013

Three organizations recently released new education rankings of states. Education Week’s Quality Counts is a comprehensive analysis of states’ education policies and student outcomes, conducted by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. New this year is a ranking report from StudentsFirst, under the leadership of former DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, which looks at how “reform-minded” states are, as defined by policies such as expanding the charter school sector and tying teacher and principal evaluation to student performance. The National Council on Teacher Quality’s State Teacher Policy Yearbook hones in on teacher preparation systems. An older, fourth report – the Foundation for Child Development’s Child Well-Being Index – puts all three new rankings in perspective, by taking a deep dive into a variety of factors that affect student learning, both within and outside of the classroom. …

Head Start Report Speaks to Role School Bus Drivers Can Play in Child Development

Source: Ryan Gray, School transportation News, December 20, 2012

A final report issued this summer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that evaluates Head Start programs in the United States suggests that school bus drivers are among agency employees who engage families and communities as well as assist in tracking a student’s success in the federal program for low-income preschoolers….
Related:
Final Report
Source: Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation, August 2012

Dishwashing Won't Kill Tummy-Troubling Norovirus: Study

Source: HealthDay, News & Views, December 13, 2012

Commercial dishwashers can kill everyday bacteria but not norovirus, the cause of stomach flu and many foodborne illnesses around the world, according to a new study.

Although restaurant-industry guidelines for cleaning dishes and silverware eliminate bacteria, they are not effective against norovirus, said researchers from Ohio State University. They found the virus can withstand both manual and mechanical washing….
See also:
Efficacies of Sodium Hypochlorite and Quaternary Ammonium Sanitizers for Reduction of Norovirus and Selected Bacteria during Ware-Washing Operations
Source: Lizanel Feliciano, Jianrong Li, Jaesung Lee, Melvin A. Pascall, PLOS One, December 5, 2012

School Bus verses Public Transportation: Secondary Educational Opportunities resulting from the Transportation Alternatives

Source: David Peterson, Transportation analyst for St. Paul (MN) Public Schools,White Paper, December 4, 2012

From the School Transportation News story:
In his paper “School Bus Versus Public Transportation: Secondary Educational Opportunities Resulting from the Transportation Alternatives,” David Peterson, transportation analyst for St. Paul (Minn.) Public Schools, set out to provide a solution to inflexible school bus schedules at dismissal that discourage participation in school-activity programs.

The first part of his solution is to assign students to neighborhood schools, were students can generally walk home after activities, if a ride on the school bus or with parents or others cannot be obtained. However, the majority of neighborhood students would still be school bus riders, which he adds is an “enormous” marginal cost savings for school districts over public transportation for large groups of students. And students with IEPs and 504 plans, homeless students and others with “special needs” would continue to ride the school bus unless other more economical means are identified on a case-by-case basis…

How Pennsylvania School Libraries Pay Off: Investments in Student Achievement and Academic Standards

Source: Keith Curry Lance and Bill Schwarz, research partners include University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences and the RSL Research Group, October 2012

The study consists of three phases of research:
– An analysis of available data about Pennsylvania school libraries and their relationships to the 2011 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) Reading and Writing scores

– An analysis of survey data about the perceptions of school library programs of administrators, teachers, and librarians and the relationships between those perceptions and their assessments of library program teaching of 21st Century Learner and PA/Common Core standards, and, in turn, the relationships between educators’ assessments of library program teaching of those two sets of standards and PSSA scores

– Estimated investments needed to fund those components of a 21st century school library infrastructure that would have the greatest impact on student achievement in Pennsylvania

2012 School Library Counts!

Source: American Library Association, American Association of School Librarians, 2012

From the summary:
AASL sponsors a longitudinal survey to provide data on the health of the nation’s school library programs. The annual survey is open to library centers at all schools teaching at the primary and secondary levels. The first survey was conducted in 2007 and results from each year are available for review . Most of the questions are tracking questions, though, each year the survey includes a short series of topical questions. In 2012, the topical questions were focused on filtering and online access.

Per Pupil Costs for Large U.S. Districts, 2010

Source: Govistics, Center for Governmental Research (CGR), 2012

From the press release:
Of the largest school districts in the U.S., the District of Columbia, Newark, NJ and Buffalo, NY spent the most per pupil in 2010, according to an analysis by Govistics of recently released U.S. Census of Governments data. Per pupil spending was about $29,400 in D.C.; $28,600 in Newark; and $26,900 in Buffalo….At the other end of the scale, the 10 districts with the lowest per pupil costs spent less ─ in some cases significantly less ─ than one-third the amount spent per pupil in 2010 in D.C., Newark or Buffalo, the Govistics analysis found. Govistics (www.govistics.com) is a web-based product of the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) and provides interactive access to key government data on U.S. school districts and local governments.

Govistics examined total spending (e.g., instruction, administration, capital costs) for the 285 districts with enrollments of 25,000 or more students….
See also:
Excel Tables
Infographic

US school/academic institution disaster and pandemic preparedness and seasonal influenza vaccination among school nurses

Source: Terri Rebmann, Michael B. Elliott, Dave Reddick, Zachary D. Swick, American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 40, Issue 7, September 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: School pandemic preparedness is essential, but has not been evaluated.
Results: A total of 1,997 nurses from 26 states completed the survey. Almost three-quarters reported receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine during the 2010-11 season. Very few reported that their school/district had a mandatory influenza vaccination policy. Pandemic preparedness scores ranged from 0 to 10 points, with an average score of 4.3. Determinants of school pandemic preparedness were as follows: planning to be a point of dispensing during a future pandemic, having experienced multiple student or employee hospitalizations and/or deaths related to H1N1 during the pandemic, having a lead nurse complete the survey, and having the school nurse study participant be a member of the school disaster planning committee. Conclusions: US schools must continue to address gaps in pandemic planning.
See also:
Press release