State News Roundup
The California State Board of Education, without dissent, has endorsed a proposal that would give teachers a role in deciding when children in bilingual-education classes are ready to enter English-only classrooms.
A public hearing on the "exit criteria"--a volatile issue for several years on the board--and a formal vote on the proposal were deferred to the board's November meeting.
Under current state regulations, which were enacted with strong Hispanic support during the administration of former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., scores on standardized tests are the only factor that can be used in the decision. Students remain in a bilingual program if they do not score at least at the 36th percentile on standardized tests of reading, language, and mathematics.
Critics have contended that in some school districts, more than half of the students--not merely the limited-English-speaking students--cannot meet this standard on all three tests.
Under the proposal, presented to the board by Bill Honig, state superintendent of public instruction, a language-appraisal team consisting of a bilingual teacher, an administrator, and a teacher of English-only classes would enter into the decision.
The team could reassign a student to the regular program if the student had been enrolled in bilingual classes for at least three years, had received English reading instruction during the previous year, and was seen as likely to succeed in an English-only setting.
In a separate matter, a board committee was advised that a statewide survey shows that 82 percent of the California districts with high schools are moving to establish the tougher graduation requirements imposed in the 1983 state school-finance-reform law.
Among the districts that responded to the survey, 90 percent said they expected to meet the course requirements of the law by September 1988. Seventy-three percent said they expected to meet far more stringent "model" requirements proposed by the board that include four years of English; one semester of computer studies; two years of the same foreign language; three years of mathematics, including one in algebra and one in geometry; two years of science; three years of social studies; and one year of fine arts.
Massachusetts education officials have allocated $260,000 to set up a college and remedial-education institute in the town of Lawrence, the site last month of clashes between Hispanic and other residents. The institute will be aimed at attracting students without high-school diplomas who are interested in developing job skills or pursuing a college education.
"This project is primarily geared toward dealing with disadvantaged populations," said Robert E. McDonald, dean of academic affairs at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Mass., which has been largely responsible for setting up and staffing the new institute.
Mr. McDonald said the Lawrence Education Employment Project has been in the planning stages for the past two years and will open in December or January. The money was allocated on Sept. 12 by the state through the board of regents for higher education, which has joined Northern Essex in planning the institute.
The city of Lawrence, a largely Hispanic community, is one of the few cities in the state that does not have its own postsecondary institution, Mr. McDonald said. Northern Essex, 12 miles away, is the nearest public college.
Anyone over the age of 18 will be eligible to apply to the institute, Mr. McDonald said. It will concentrate on student assessment, counseling, bilingual education, and developing job skills. Some courses will be offered for college credit.
The institute will charge tuition, but the amount has not yet been determined. The regents have agreed to waive fees for students who meet certain criteria, Mr. McDonald said. It is estimated that about 200 to 300 students initially will enroll.
Beginning Jan. 1, prospective teachers in Kentucky will be required to achieve specific minimum scores on the National Teacher Examination's Core Battery Tests in order to qualify for certification.
Fulfilling the requirements of a law adopted by the legislature during its last session, the Kentucky Board of Education this month set the minimum test scores required for teacher certification.
Based on recommendations from an advisory panel set up by the Kentucky Department of Education, the board set passing scores for the three main sections of the test at 637, 641, and 643 out of a possible score of 800.
National figures from the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J., which administers the nte, indicate that about 12 percent of prospective teachers fail the test at the minimum levels set in Kentucky, according to Sidney Simandle, director of the division of teacher education and certification at the state education department.
"But we think our Kentucky graduates should do better than that," he said.
Education officials are expecting a higher passage rate in Kentucky because of the screening procedures used in state-certified teacher-edu-cation programs, said Mr. Simandle.
"This test will catch any institution allowing people to graduate at low standards and some people who come in from other states," he said.
The Minnesota Board of Education has approved a program of minimum curriculum offerings for secondary schools, to be in place for the 1985-86 school year.
According to Ted L. Suss, administrator of the state board, about 75 percent of Minnesota's approximately 470 high schools are already in compliance with the new minimum standards; the schools that will most likely be affected are smaller schools in remote parts of the state.
The new high-school requirements, written following a 1983 directive by the state legislature, do not affect students' graduation requirements, Mr. Suss said.
The new rules define a credit as 120 "clock hours" during a school year, according to Mr. Suss. One course offered during the entire school year equals one credit, he said; a course offered in one semester equals half a credit.
According to the new rules, three-year high schools must offer: four credits in communications; three in mathematics; three in science; three in social studies; two in a foreign language (schools need only offer two years of one language); two in music; two in visual arts; one in industrial arts; one-half in health, and one-half in physical education.
Four-year high schools must offer five credits in communications; four in mathematics; four in science; four in social studies; and in the other fields, the same number as three-year high schools.
The state board will require programs in career education and information technology.
Mr. Suss said that a school district need not offer all the required courses itself but must make them available to students--by providing transportation to schools where they are offered, for example.
Minimum curricular requirements for elementary schools will be announced next year, Mr. Suss said.
The West Virginia State Board of Education, implementing a 1981 state-court order to upgrade the quality of education in the state, earlier this month approved the educational standards set by nine counties, granted pending approval to three counties, and said that the Kanawha County Board of Education, which runs the state's largest school system, was not in compliance with state "excellence" stan-dards developed as a result of the state court's ruling.
According to Charlene Byrd, administrative assistant to the superintendent of the 37,409-student Kanawha County district--focus of the parental complaint about quality that resulted in the far-reaching court decision--the county officially has two years to meet state requirements, although it is probable that schools will come into compliance with state standards within the next few months.
The state requires that counties submit their excellence plans every year, but it accredits only 15 districts per year. It will not be until 1986-87 that a state accreditation team will decide whether Kanawha County schools officially meet the 12 standards and 140 indicators of excellence that were approved by the state board in 1982 following 1981 legislation and the court order handed down by Judge Arthur W. Recht.
The state board noted that Kanawha needed to establish a formal policy to prevent dropouts; to review the job classifications of school service personnel; to implement bus-safety programs; and to bring county textbook-adoption procedures more "in line with state timetables," Ms. Byrd said. The county had not adopted textbooks in music, social studies, and health when the board met earlier this month.
All 55 counties will have placed their plans before the board by next month, according to James C. Smith, assistant superintendent of finance and administration for the West Virginia Department of Education.