Standard & Poor's, School Evaluation Services
This twelve pager seeks to dispel four "myths" about urban school systems: that they spend more per pupil than other districts in their states; that their academic performance is not improving; that their education problems are largely confined to minority youngsters; and that they're ineffective in boosting student achievement. The relatively cheery conclusions that follow are the product of some interesting calculations, heroic assumptions, and imaginative analyses, and even then they mainly apply to just a fraction of the schools in the 25-district sample. (For instance: "14 percent of all schools in this sample managed to raise student achievement . . . above the state average.") The paper also strikes me as schizophrenic regarding what should be expected from poor/minority youngsters and their schools, namely, should they be expected to attain uniform high standards or to have their results "explained" by their demography? Still, you'll probably want to have a look, so surf here.