States News Roundup
Wealthy school districts in Connecticut typically spent $1,227 more per student than poorer ones during the 1981-82 school year, according to a recent state report.
Prepared for the Connecticut Educational Equity Study Committee, the six-page report revealed that 11 "typically high-spending" districts spent $3,215 per student, while 11 lower-spending ones allocated $1,988 per student, said Lise M. Heintz, a spokesman for the state's department of education.
The spending gap showed in lower student-to-teacher ratios and higher teacher salaries in the wealthier districts. The higher-spending districts also spent more on fringe benefits, support staff, and maintenance, repairs, and property insurance, according to Ms. Heintz.
She added that this report does not indicate that the high-spending districts provide a better education for their students.
In a companion report prepared for the equity committee, researchers found that the spending gap between the wealthiest and poorest districts increased between 1977 and 1981. Spending per pupil in the wealthiest districts increased 96 percent, while spending by the districts that spent the least increased by 68 percent during these four according to the findings of the report.
The reports, prepared by education-department staff members, are being studied by the educational equity committee, which is expected to make recommendations to the state board of education and the legislature early next year, Ms. Heintz said.
The equity committee was established by the state legislature in 1980.
Ohio students missed a total of 22 million school days in the 1982-83 school year, according to the report of an Ohio citizens' group.
The state's average attendance rate for the year was 93.4 percent, or slightly under the 95-percent rate that would reflect legitimate absences--suggesting, the report said, that at least 5.5 million days were lost in unexcused absences. And some districts had significantly higher absenteeism rates at the secondary level, according to the report.
The Citizens Council for Ohio Schools also found that 23,473 students dropped out of grades 7 through 12 in the same year, but its report notes that the overall 2.6-percent dropout rate was an improvement over the 3.7-percent rate of the late 1970's. In some districts, however, the rate was as high as 12 percent for the year, according to the council.
In an analysis of suspension data from 1979 to 80, the council found wide variation in rates among districts, from an average of 6.1 percent statewide to rates as high as 21 percent in some districts. And in some districts, the report notes, "minority students were suspended far more than their white peers."
The council's report was released this month in an effort to boost citizen involvement in school districts' efforts to keep more students in school.
Funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the report examines data on absenteeism, and on dropout, suspension, and expulsion rates in Ohio school districts.
The report recommends that districts rely less heavily on "negative sanctions," such as reducing grades or suspending students, as punishment for absenteeism; use better forms of record-keeping to determine why students are out of school; and identify and intervene at an early stage in situations that indicate students are likely to drop out of school.
Most of the 1,020 Texans surveyed in a recent statewide poll said they agreed with the state's new education reforms, and those who said they supported the changes rated Gov. Mark White and the state legislature higher than did those who opposed the reforms.
According to the latest Texas Poll, a quarterly public-opinion survey sponsored by the newspaper chain Harte-Hanks Communications Inc. and conducted by the Bryan-College Station Eagle and Texas A&M University, 53 percent of the respondents said they approved of the school reforms that were signed into law by Governor White this year on July 13.
Asked their opinion of the job Governor White has done, 43 percent of the respondents rated his performance as excellent or good and 47 percent gave him a fair or poor rating, said David G. Mays, managing editor of the Eagle.
But of those respondents who said they agreed with the school reforms, 54 percent rated the Governor excellent or good. And of those who said they disagreed with the reforms, 64 percent rated the Governor fair or poor. Respondents' ratings for the legislature followed a similar pattern, Mr. Mays said.
The random-selection telephone poll was carried out this fall by the public-policy resources laboratory at Texas A&M University.
The Massachusetts State Board of Regents is considering substituting a weighted grade-point average for class rank in recently revised admission standards for its four-year colleges and universities.
Under admission standards that were implemented in January and will be fully effective by 1987, students planning to enter a state public college or university must take 16 units of basic academic courses, such as English and mathematics, and qualify on a sliding "eligibility scale," according to Claire Vanummersen, associate vice-chancellor for academic affairs for the board of regents. That scale includes Scholastic Aptitude Test scores and class rank.
However, a task force established by the regents in February is circulating a proposal among state education agencies that suggests a weighted gpa be substituted for class rank. The weighted gpa would give more credit for courses that are considered more difficult, Ms. Vanummersen said.
"There was some concern [about class rank,]" she said. "Almost all schools in Massachusetts compute rank and gpa by different systems, and it becomes very difficult to have eligibility standards for class rank. The task force felt it might be easier to move to weighted gpa"
According to the provisions of the eligibility scale, if a student had a low sat score, he or she would have to have a higher gpa and vice she said. Certain groups of students are excluded, partially or completely, from the admissions criteria, including those students defined by the state as disadvantaged; those who have been out of school for more than three years; and students with a high-school equivalency diploma.