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Iowa Board Rejects Plan For Half-Day Preschool

The Iowa Board of Education has adopted tougher school-accreditation standards, but rejected a proposal to require that districts offer half-day preschool for 4-year-olds.

The standards, which were tentatively approved in October, have sparked controversy among small districts that could be forced to consolidate if they do not meet the requirements by 1989.

The new standards nearly double the number of courses high schools are required to offer and set a 180-day school calendar. By 1992, districts also must offer 4-hour kindergarten classes.

Instead of requiring schools to offer preschool, the board voted to support pilot preschool projects and to offer financial incentives to districts that start such programs on their own.

The education department estimates that the new standards could cost districts an extra $72 million a year.

Agency Sees 'Crisis' in

Minnesota's Child Care

The demand for child-care services in Minnesota has far outstripped the supply of such programs, a new report by the state planning agency says.

The report, which cites data from a variety of state and private sources, estimates that only 7 counties can meet 50 percent or more of their need for full-day child care, and that 26 counties cannot meet more than 25 percent of their day-care needs.

The report also predicted the demand for after-school child care--which now serves 18,000 to 20,000 pupils--could double in coming years.

The day-care shortage is especially acute for disadvantaged children, notes the report, which says the state served only 24 percent of those eligible for Project Head Start in 1985.

It warns of a widening skills gap between low-income children entering school and their upper-income peers, who are far more likely to attend preschool.

The report, which also cites the difficulty of attracting qualified day-care staff, attributes the crisis to dramatic increases in the number of young children and working mothers.

While Minnesota has boosted its child-care subsidy from $4 million to $26 million in the last four years, "we are still unable to keep up with the need," said Linda Sutherland, assistant state-planning commissioner.

She said Gov. Rudy Perpich has launched a series of hearings on the issue and will seek more funds for early-childhood education and extended-day programs if revenues permit.

Hundreds of Colorado students are dropping out of school before their sophomore year, a new survey by the state education department shows.

The survey, which compiled dropout data on 7th, 8th, and 9th graders for the first time, found that students in those grades accounted for a quarter of the 12,776 students identified as dropouts last year.

The survey also found that Hispanic students had the highest dropout rate among all ethnic groups, with rates twice the state average in the 9th and 10th grades.

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