it has been in over 40 years (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999).

Continuing Problems

Nonetheless, some social indicators suggest continuing problems for many young people, particularly some specific subsets of them.

Academic Failure

Although the gap between white and black students’ achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests has narrowed somewhat since 1973, there are still substantial racial and ethnic group differences in performance on these tests. In addition, youth from poor inner-city and rural areas are doing substantially worse on these tests than youth from more affluent school districts (Campbell et al., 2000; Jencks and Phillips, 1998). Youth in poor inner-city areas lose a substantial portion of their school-year academic achievement gains over the summer months—perhaps due to fewer learning opportunities, less support for learning in the home, and limited quality and quantity of parent interaction—leaving them farther behind their more affluent peers at the start of each new school year than they were at the end of the previous one (Entwisle and Alexander, 1992). The proportion of young people dropping out without completing high school increases with age and is particularly high among Hispanic youth and adolescents living in poor communities (National Center for Health Statistics, 2000). Finally, in the most recent comparative international academic achievement tests, U.S. youth scored substantially lower on tests of both mathematical and scientific knowledge than youth in most other industrialized countries (National Center for Education Statistics, 1995).

Poor Physical and Mental Health

Some teens are still becoming sexually active quite young: 8 percent of students reported having had sex before age 13—a disturbing 15 percent increase between 1988 and 1995 (National Center for Health Statistics, 2000; National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1999). The rates of sexual activity were particularly high among black youth living in poor communities (Blum et al., 2000; National Center for Health Statistics, 2000). And although most teens (88 per-



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