Subject: Studies in the News 02-53 (September 10, 2002)

Studies in the News
Children and Family Supplement

Contents This Week

Introductory Material EDUCATION
   Test-based accountability
   Special education system overhaul
   Improving school performance
   Healthy cities and suburbs
   Cerebral specialization for babies
   Women and smoking
   Children's well-being and the rise in cohabitation
   Improving teenage behaviors
   Effects of home visiting
Introduction to Studies in the News

Studies in the News is a very current compilation of items significant to the Legislature and Governor's Office. It is created weekly by the State Library's Research Bureau to supplement the public policy debate in California’s Capitol. To help share the latest information with state policymakers, these reading lists are now being made accessible through the State Library’s website. This week's list of current articles in various public policy areas is presented below.

Service to State Employees:

  • When available, the URL for the full text of each item is provided.

  • Items in the State Library collection can be checked out to state officials and staff.

  • Access to all materials listed will be provided by the State Information Reference Center, either by e-mail to or by calling 654-0261.

The following studies are currently on hand:



Making Sense of Test-Based Accountability in Education. Edited by Laura S. Hamilton and others, RAND Education. Prepared for the National Science Foundation. MR-1554-EDU. (RAND, Santa Monica, California) 2002. 169 p.

Full Text at:

["This book ... addresses several key areas, including how the tests are used, how to evaluate the technical quality and trustworthiness of the tests, how test-based accountability affects the practices of teachers and schools, and what effect political considerations have on the policy debate. The authors also provide some recommendations for developing more-effective test-based accountability systems." NOTE: Making Sense of Test-Based Accountability ... is available for 3-day loan.]

[Request #S5865]

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Escaping IDEA, Freeing Parents, Teachers, and Students through Deregulation and Choice. By Marie Gryphon and David Salisbury, The Cato Institute. Policy Analysis 444. (The Institute, Washington, DC) July 10, 2002. 24 p.

Full Text at:

["Experts Debate Fixes to Special Ed .... This report addresses the special education quandary and proposes several solutions. According to the authors, the current mess stems from the regulations created by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act of 1975, known as IDEA.... The entire system ... pits teachers and parents against each other." United Press International (July 18, 2002) 1.]

[Request #S5866]

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Educating America's Youth: What Makes a Difference. By Zakia Redd and others. (Child Trends, Washington, DC) August 2002. 8 p.

Full Text at:

["For parents and educators managing the turbulence that comes along with millions of adolescents returning to the classroom, this is a review of what works to engage teens in school, to improve their academic performance, and to encourage high aspirations. To answer the critical question of what promotes academic success, more than 300 research studies were reviewed to determine what affects school success." News from Child Trends (August 27, 2002).]

[Request #S5867]

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Healthy Cities; Healthy Suburbs: Progress in Meeting Healthy People Goals for the Nation's 100 Largest Cities & Their Suburbs. By Dennis P. Andrulis and others, SUNY Downstate Medical Center. (The Center, Brooklyn, New York) August 2002. 29 p.

Full Text at:

["L.A. Met Some Goals, Became Healthier City in '90s, Study Says: Over the decade ending in 2000, Los Angeles dramatically boosted its public health ranking to 15th of the nation's 100 most populous cities, up from 62nd in 1990. Los Angeles achieved national goals set for five of 11 measures of public health.... Infant mortality declined 21% in cities nationally -- and 27% in Los Angeles." Los Angeles Times (August 7, 2002) 1.]

[Request #S5868]

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“Left Hemisphere Cerebral Specialization for Babies While Babbling.” By Siobhan Holowka and Laura Ann Petitto. IN: Science, vol. 297, no. 5586 (August 30, 2002) pp. 1515.

["The authors studied slow-motion videotapes of 10 babies between the ages of 5 months and 1 year. The babies tended to use the right sides of the mouths slightly more while babbling, whereas there was more action on the left side of their mouths when they smiled and no emphasis on one side or the other when making non-babbling sounds.... This discovery demonstrates left hemisphere cerebral specialization for babies while babbling, which in turn suggests that language functions in humans are lateralized from a very early point in development." Washington Post (September 2, 2002) A11.]

[Request #S5869]

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"Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General--Executive Summary." IN: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 51, no. 12 (August 30, 2002) pp. 1-14.

Full Text at:

["Noting that most of the early evidence on smoking and health was based on men, this report summarizes current knowledge on the health effects of smoking among women. Major conclusions include that despite all that is known of the devastating health consequences of smoking, 22% of women smoked cigarettes in 1998; in 2000, 29.7% of 12th-grade girls reported having smoked within the past 30 days; infants born to women exposed to environmental tobacco smoke during pregnancy have a small decrement in birthweight and a slightly increased risk of intrauterine retardation compared with infants born to nonexposed women; smoking during pregnancy remains a major public health problem despite increased knowledge about the adverse health effects of smoking during pregnancy. In addition, the report includes information on patterns of tobacco use among women and girls, health consequences of tobacco use among women, factors influencing tobacco use among women, and efforts to reduce tobacco use among women."]

[Request #S5870]

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The Kids Are Alright? Children's Well-Being and the Rise in Cohabitation. By Gregory Acs and Sandi Nelson, The Urban Institute. Series B, No. B-48. (The Institute, Washington, DC) July 2002. 8 p.

Full Text at:

["Married Parents' Scion Get Edge on Cohabitors': Children do best when they live with their married parents, says a recent study that looked at families and poverty, hunger, behavioral problems and early reading habits.... According to the National Survey of American Families ... the number of cohabiting homes jumped from 4.6 percent in 1997 to 6 percent in 1999." Washington Times (August 17, 2002) A2.]

[Request #S5871]

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Encouraging Teens to Adopt a Safe, Healthy Lifestyle: A Foundation for Improving Future Adult Behaviors. By Juliet L. Hatcher and Juliet Scarpa. (Child Trends, Washington, DC) June 2002. 8 p.

Full Text at:

["The authors reviewed more than 200 of the best research studies on adolescent health and safety to identify specific strategies that prevent teen smoking and encourage exercise, healthy eating and sufficient sleep. The research shows that simply providing information to teens will not alone change or improve their behaviors. Instead, programs that have been successful in promoting a healthy lifestyle among teens are multifaceted - focusing on social skills and behavior - and aspire to long-term change." HandsNet (June 28, 2002).]

[Request #S5872]

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[The following studies, reports, and documents have been ordered or requested, but have not yet arrived. Requests may be placed, and copies will be provided when the material arrives.]


"Home Visiting by Paraprofessionals and by Nurses: A Randomized, Controlled Trial." By David L. Olds, Prevention Research Center for Family and Child Health, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and others. IN: Pediatrics, vol. 110, no. 3 (September 2002) pp. 486-496.

["Home visiting by nurses and, to a lesser extent, paraprofessionals during pregnancy and the first years of a baby’s life do make a significant difference on children’s well being, according to this research. At 21 months, for example, nurse-visited children born to women with low psychological resources were less likely to exhibit language delays (7 percent vs. 18 percent) and at 24 months they exhibited superior mental development than their control-group counterparts." Connect for Kids Weekly (September 9, 2002) online.]

[Request #S5873]

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