July 17 - 23, 2000
      Special Indicator Finds High School Volunteerism Up 10 Percent

      One of the special features in the 2000 report, Youth Participation in Volunteer Activities, shows that about 55 percent of 9th through 12th graders participated in volunteer activities in 1999, a 10 percent increase from 1996.

      In addition, 6th through 12th grade students were more likely to participate if their schools required that they do so and made the appropriate arrangements. In schools that did so, 59 percent of 6th through 12th graders volunteered. When schools did neither, only 29 percent of students in this age group volunteered.

      According to the report, youth benefited not only the communities they live in by volunteering, but also themselves. Studies have shown that youth who volunteer regularly have more confidence in their ability to make public statements and have more political knowledge. By volunteering, they also learn to respect and help others, develop leadership skills, and a better understanding of citizenship.

      The report also found that 24 percent of high school students participated in volunteer activities once or twice during the 1998-1999 school year, and 16 percent of high school students performed 35 or more hours of volunteer service. Girls were more likely to volunteer than were boys. In 1999, 57 percent of 6th through 12th grade girls volunteered, as compared to 47 percent of boys.

      Students also were more likely to volunteer if their parents had attained higher educational levels. In 1999, 65 percent of 6th through 12th grade students whose parents had attended graduate school volunteered, as compared to 37 percent of students who parents did not have a high school diploma.

      Special Indicators Shows Majority of Beginning Kindergartners Know Letters

      Another special feature, Beginning Kindergartnersí Knowledge and Skills, highlighted the success of children entering kindergarten. It measured childrenís knowledge of letters and letter sounds, social skills, and the ways in which they approach school and learning. The full on which the indicator is based is based is available at http://nces.ed.gov

      The report showed that 66 percent of children entering kindergarten can recognize letters of the alphabet, and 29 percent could recognize the sounds associated with letters that begin words.

      One measure found that, overall, 66 percent of children entering kindergarten could recognize the letters of the alphabet Ė an essential prerequisite for learning to read. This skill varied by the motherís level of education, with 38 percent of children whose mothers had not completed high school being able to recognize letters, as opposed to 86 percent of children whose mothers had a bachelorís degree or higher.

      An important skill needed for learning to read is the ability to recognize the sounds of letters that begin and end words. In all, 29 percent of children could recognize the letter sounds that begin words, and 17 percent could recognize sounds at the end of words. (A report by the National Reading Panel found that teaching children to understand and manipulate such letter sounds significantly improves their reading and spelling abilities. Copies of the report are available at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/ and from the NICHD Clearinghouse at 800.370.2943.)

      Regarding social skills, the Americaís Children report stated that childrenís experiences with their peers will likely influence their attitudes toward school and learning. As rated by their teachers, 74 percent of beginning kindergartners often accepted peer ideas for group activities, and 77 percent often formed and kept friendships.

      The report noted that childrenís dispositions and inclinations toward learning also affect their ability to learn. According to their teachers, 71 percent of kindergartners often persisted at tasks and 75 percent often seemed eager to learn.

      The report also noted that childrenís abilities in all these areas varied widely and were dependent upon their motherís educational levels.

      Americaís Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being is issued by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. The report is available from the Forumís Website at www.childstats.gov or through the National Maternal and Child Health Clearinghouse, 2070 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 450, Vienna, Virginia 22182, number 703.356.1964, email nmchc@circsol.com

      Information about OJJDP publications, programs and conferences is available through the OJJDP publications, programs and conferences is available through the OJJDP Website at www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org and from OJJDPís Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, Box 6000, Rockville, Maryland 20857. The toll-free number is 800.638.8736.

      Information about other Office of Justice Programs (OJP) bureaus and programs offices is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov

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