MetroMonitor Ranks Metropolitan Performance

Comparative Unemployment Ranking of Metropolitan Areas (Brookings Institution MetroMonitor March 2010)

The Brookings Institution has released the March 2010 edition of its MetroMonitor, a 27-page report on the economic performance of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas during the recession and its emerging aftermath.

In the various indices, the Wichita metropolitan area consistently ranked among the second-strongest-20 or middle-20 metro areas, with the exception of housing prices, where it ranked 10th among the strongest metro areas.

The report authors characterize their effort as “an interactive barometer of the health of America’s metropolitan economies, [which] looks ‘beneath the hood’ of national economic statistics to portray the diverse metropolitan landscape of recession and recovery across the country. It aims to enhance understanding of the local underpinnings of national economic trends, and to promote public- and private-sector responses to the downturn that take into account metropolitan areas’ distinct strengths and weaknesses.”

For a quick summary introduction to some of the insights of the report, see these notes accompanying the release, or consult the various metro-comparison maps of overall performance, employment, unemployment rate, gross metropolitan product, housing prices and real estate-owned properties included in the report.

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Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2009

Twenty-eight percent of all Kansas fourth graders’ reading skills were below even the basic level in 2009, and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) read at the basic level or below in 2009.

Just 28 percent of Kansas fourth graders were proficient readers, and only 7 percent could read at an advanced level.

Yet these results compare favorably with many other jurisdictions across the country. In the nation’s capital, a disheartening 56 percent of all fourth graders were below basic readers, and 83 percent of all fourth graders read only at the basic level or below.

More than 40 percent of all fourth graders read at a below basic level in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and New Mexico. In another 26 states, fourth graders were tested with below basic reading levels of 30 percent or more.

The situation is somewhat better for Kansas eighth graders, with 20 percent reading below basic, 47 percent at the basic level, 31 percent reading proficiently, but a miniscule 2 percent reading at the advanced level.

These results are reported in a 72-page assessment of reading skills at grades 4 and 8 from the National Center for Education Statistics of the Institute of Education Science (US Department of Education), The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2009.

Here’s how the National Center explains the testing and results from the most optimistic perspective:

“Nationally representative samples of more than 178,000 fourth-graders and 160,000 eighth-graders participated in the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure their knowledge of reading comprehension across two types of texts: literary and informational.

“At grade 4, the average reading score in 2009 was unchanged from the score in 2007 but was higher than the scores in other earlier assessment years from 1992 to 2005. About two-thirds (67 percent) of fourth-graders performed at or above the Basic level in 2009, and one-third (33 percent) performed at or above Proficient. Both percentages were unchanged from 2007 but were higher than previous assessment years. Eight percent of fourth-graders performed at the Advanced level, which was the same as in 2007 but higher than in 1992.

“At grade 8, the average reading score in 2009 was one point higher than in 2007 and four points higher than in 1992 but was not consistently higher than in all the assessment years in between. Gains since 2007 were seen for lower- and middle-performing students at the 10th, 25th, and 50th percentiles, while scores for higher-performing students at the 75th and 90th percentiles showed no significant change. In 2009, about three-quarters (75 percent) of eighth-graders performed at or above the Basic level, and one-third (32 percent) performed at or above Proficient. Both percentages were higher in 2009 than in 2007 and 1992. Three percent of eighth-graders performed at the Advanced level in 2009, which was the same as the percentages in 2007 and 1992.”

For more details, consult the full report.

Update: For some of the reaction to the report see Reading Scores Stall at the Pew Center’s Stateline.org and this somewhat oddly titled piece from the Washington Post.

Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Modern English Usage Revisited

Last December in A Fairer Fowler we noted Liam Julian’s favorable review of David Crystal’s new edition of H.W. Fowler’s classic A Dictionary of Modern English Usage in the Hoover Institution’s Policy Review.

Here’s another take on the same work from the Toronto Globe and Mail’s Warren Clements in “The Great Prescriptivist”.

Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Mystery of Lewis Carroll

Alice in Wonderland (1865), as it is commonly abbreviated, and its darker, even more brilliant sequel, Through the Looking Glass (1871), are the two most translated works of English literature after the plays of Shakespeare. And well they should be. By avoiding didacticism and sentimentality, these playful, dreamlike books inaugurated modern children’s literature. As readers the world over know, they are charming and fantastical, a bit frightening in places and, most of all, deeply enigmatic.”

Jenny Woolf’s new book The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created “Alice in Wonderland” is
favorably reviewed by Michael Dirda in the Washington Post.

Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 12:24 pm  Leave a Comment