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Headlines at Hopkins
News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

August 16, 2004
CONTACT: Amy Cowles

Back-to-School Story Ideas from
Johns Hopkins University

For back-to-school stories, consider the following education sources from The Johns Hopkins University. To speak with these experts, contact Amy Cowles at 443-287-9960 or amycowles@jhu.edu, unless otherwise indicated.


...and parental involvement

Principal research scientist Joyce Epstein talks about the No Child Left Behind Act and its attention to parental involvement in their children's education. This includes: the goals and language of NCLB for 1) school, district, and state programs of family involvement to help increase student achievement; 2) communications with parents about their children's achievement; 3) communications with parents about changing/choosing schools and selecting supplementary services for eligible children. Also, how to use the annual reports from schools, districts, and states on student achievement, comparisons across schools, and the status of schools and trends in meeting targets for Adequate Yearly Progress.

Contact: Joyce L. Epstein, director, Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships and the National Network of Partnership Schools, Johns Hopkins University. 410-516-8807 or jepstein@csos.jhu.edu.

...and public schools

What impact has the No Child Left Behind law had on the public school systems in the United States and how might this affect the outcome of the presidential campaign? For stories about education policy and NCLB, consider these two experts:

Edward Pajak is interim associate dean of the Graduate Division of Education in the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education. He says NCLB can work because it focuses on results, yet he is concerned about some supporters of NCLB, who he thinks may be trying to undermine confidence in public education rather than improve performance for all students. Pajak has published more than 40 articles in professional journals and has authored and co-edited four books, including, The Central Office Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction: Setting the Stage for Success.

Shelley Ingram is an associate professor and director of the Center for Urban Partnerships at Johns Hopkins. She has extensive experience in teaching and urban education and was formerly the assistant state superintendent for certification and accreditation for the Maryland State Department of Education. A former classroom teacher herself, she would be able to offer some insights on how the NCLB act is working.

... and principals

Schools with stable leadership and principals who strongly support family and community involvement are more likely to implement activities that meet the NCLB requirements than schools with high principal turnover and leaders who lend little support to such outreach activities. These findings are based on data from more than 500 schools in the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University.

For more information on how principals affect their schools' willingness to include families and communities, contact Steve Sheldon at 410-516-8800 or ssheldon@csos.jhu.edu.

...and how it might change under a new president

How will the education agenda change if Democrats take over the White House? Will there be more money for the No Child Left Behind Act? Will whole- school reforms, slated for budget cuts next year, be revived? Principal research scientist and director of the Center for Social Organization of Schools James McPartland has been studying education since the 1960s. He can offer his unique perspective on what a new administration/or the continuation of the present administration will mean for teachers, students, parents and the future of America.

Contact: James McPartland at 410-516-8803 or jmcpartland@csos.jhu.edu.

...and its emphasis on data

The Bush administration has put increased emphasis on the use of teaching and learning strategies that have been proven to work. From early reading to after-school activities, schools are pressured to be data-driven and use research to justify their choice of the instructional methods they use, particularly when using federal dollars. Researcher Jeffrey Wayman has studied software that makes it easier for schools and school districts to analyze the data they have. There is also a user- friendly web site to help educators drive their data in a helpful direction.

Contact: Jeffrey Wayman, Center for Social Organization of Schools, 410-516-8040, jwayman@csos.jhu.edu.


Class and ethnicity have a major impact on how children of immigrants will do in school, says sociologist Lingxin Hao. When studying both the class and ethnic background of a child and of the other children at that child's school, she finds that most children fare better in a school with fewer poor children. However, children of Mexican parents, many of whom have crossed the border illegally, actually fare worse in that situation, Hao says.

Her results show that children of Mexican families are academically left behind not only because of their ethnic background and poverty but also because better schools do not alleviate their problems.

Hao concludes, "There is a need for additional programs for children of Mexican immigrants attending American schools. The 2000 census shows that this is a rapidly growing population. Most immigrant children do better in schooling than their parents — who often did not have the opportunity to attend high school — but ethnic Mexican kids do only slightly better than their parents and do much worse than their peers from other ethnic backgrounds. If they do not get the help they need, their own futures will be difficult and they will contribute to the widening social inequality in the U.S."


Going back to a dropout factory?

Many students across the country will be returning to schools where they will have only a 50-50 chance of graduating. In a new study, researchers Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters of the Center for Social Organization of Schools identify more than 2,000 high schools with low "promoting power." This is a measure that compares the number of 12th graders to the number of 9th graders in the same school four years earlier, as an indicator of low graduation and high dropout rates. Balfanz and Legters also make recommendations in the study for changes that must occur to make these low-achieving schools more successful.

Contact: Robert Balfanz at 410-516-4272 or Nettie Legters at 410-516-8874.


What can teachers and school counselors do to prevent tragedies like Columbine High? Counselor and researcher Fred Hanna has developed a list of characteristics of a teen who may represent a danger to others. Another list looks at warning signs of a youth likely to become involved in a crime. Hanna has published several articles that offer strategies for counselors to reach these troubled teens. He has developed many innovative techniques for working with difficult adolescents and is writing a book on the subject.


Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the Success for All Foundation are looking at the effects of short video lessons, embedded regularly in 90-minute language arts classes, on the achievement of 450 first-graders in Hartford, Conn.

Using random assignment, researchers selected five classrooms where the Success for All curricula was enhanced by quick video lessons and five control classrooms using the Success for All program without video. Early results show that students experiencing the video-enhanced lessons learned more than the students who did not have video added. The video shorts were 30-second to three-minute animations and skits about letters, letters and sounds and vocabulary.

For more information about the study and its findings to date, contact Robert Slavin, Success for All Foundation, rslavin@successforall.net or 410-616-2300.


Lea Ybarra is executive director of the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins. She can speak to reporters about the need to nurture advanced learners, including those from underrepresented minorities, so they can reach their full academic promise. CTY conducts the nation's oldest and most extensive academic talent search and offers educational programming for students with exceptionally high academic ability.

"Our country must ensure academic success in extremely bright young minds — no matter where they live or what their families earn," Ybarra says. See www.cty.jhu.edu/.


It's 3 p.m. - do you know where your children are?

After-school programs are a necessity for many families. Finding one that suits your child, your budget and your expectations is a tough, time-consuming task. Research has shown that the best after-school programs are well-rounded, focusing not only on academics, but also on cultural, social and behavioral activities. Johns Hopkins affiliate Olatokunbo (Toks) Fashola has studied after-school programs extensively; she can offer research-based lessons on effective after-school programs that are affordable, appealing and rewarding for students, teachers and parents.

Contact: Toks Fashola at tfashola@csos.jhu.edu


"Teaching can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience," says Ralph Fessler, dean of the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education at The Johns Hopkins University. "Yet nearly 50 percent of all new teachers leave during their first five years, with the majority indicating that they do not feel they are making a difference in the lives of their students. How can you become one of those teachers who does make a difference?

"First, you need solid preparation in the content you will be teaching as well as in the processes of teaching and learning. Second, resist the fast and easy routes to certification in favor of solid programs that better enable you to meet the needs of your students. And finally, you must have the commitment and tenacity to stay, learn, and grow as you experience the hard work and early career challenges of teaching."


Ninety of Baltimore's newest public school teachers are students themselves at the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education at The Johns Hopkins University, working toward their master's degrees in teaching. (A similar, smaller program is in place in Montgomery County, Md.) The group includes recent college graduates just starting out as well as career changers. Stories about them would offer readers a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a new teacher.


The Baltimore Public School System is opening a new high school in partnership with researchers and educators at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins. More than 150 ninth-graders will make up the first class at the Baltimore Talent Development High School. Though the Talent Development model for changing low-achieving high schools has been used by schools across the country for a decade, this is the first Talent Development High School starting from scratch.

Contact: Robert Balfanz at 410-516-4272; Maxine Wood at 410-516-6423; Gwen Statham at 410-516-8842; and Principal Jeffrey Robinson, 410-516-5191.


The ninth grade is a critical year for students. The beginning of high school life often leads students to face learning and adjustment problems that cause many students to drop out. Howard Gradet, a developer of ninth-grade curricula for the Talent Development High Schools program at the Center for Social Organization of Schools, can speak to reporters about the challenges facing freshmen and offer survival tips for ninth grade.

Contact: Howard Gradet, 410-516-6449 or hgradet@csos.jhu.edu.


EcoHealth, www.ecohealth101.org/index.html

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has developed EcoHealth, a new resource for middle-school students and their teachers. Short for Environmental Change and Our Health, EcoHealth examines the changes that are transforming Earth and what they can mean for our health. With input from the school's world-renowned experts in public health, the Web site's features, including a glossary, images, lesson plans and Q & As, deliver scientific information in a kid-friendly, engaging, and visually-vibrant manner.


The Injury Free Coalition for Kids at The Johns Hopkins Children's Center is part of a national effort to prevent injury to children, the No. 1 cause of death and hospitalization of young people throughout the United States. Started in Baltimore in November 2002, the program is based on a long-standing collaboration between the university's Pediatric Trauma Service, the Johns Hopkins Children's Safety Center and the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the East Baltimore community.

The IFCK just graduated its first peer education group, 13 local residents who spent 10 weeks learning about the leading childhood injuries in their neighborhood and how to prevent them.

Online at www.injuryfree.org/. Click on the "Injury Free Sites" link to find information specific to Johns Hopkins and Baltimore.

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