States News Roundup
The South Carolina Board of Education has approved plans to expand an outcome-based school-accreditation system that was initiated in September and to free high-achieving schools from state regulations.
Under the new system, which has to be approved by the legislature, individual schools will be evaluated according to their ability to meet student-achievement, leadership, and management standards.
Schools will also continue to be judged on the basis of "quantitative" standards, such as student-teacher ratios and the number of books in their libraries. The new system would go into effect in 1988-89.
Under the terms of the deregulation proposal, successful schools--to be identified through the new accreditation program as well as by their students' performance on standardized tests, their student and faculty attendance rates, and their dropout6rates--would be granted waivers from many administrative requirements. The schools would still be required to fulfill health and safety standards and to meet the state's ''quantitative" regulations.
Officials in a sizable number of Texas school districts say they are unable to comply with class-size limits set by the state's four-year-old reform law, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Last year, a total of 126 districts--about one out of every eight in the state--requested waivers from the law, which sets a ratio of 22 students to every one teacher in kindergarten, 1st-grade, and 2nd-grade classes.
Despite these figures, tea officials said they expected all districts to be in compliance with the law by next September.
"The number [of waivers] has been dwindling year by year" since the reform law was passed in 1984, said a spokesman for the tea "We feel certain that everybody will be in compliance by next year."
Under the terms of the reform act, waivers cannot be granted to districts next year, when the class-size limits will also be extended to the 4th and 5th grades.
Officials in many districts have complained that state funding increases over the past three years have not kept pace with the additional salary and facility costs stemming from the reform act.
A task force appointed by the Massachusetts State Board of Regents of Higher Education has recommended a new financial-aid structure that would guarantee tuition and fees for the neediest students at state-supported colleges and universities, while possibly raising costs for students from families with higher incomes.
"Students and their families ought to contribute to the expenses of college according to their means," the panel's report states.
The proposal, which is expected to be considered by the board next month before it is submitted to the legislature for approval, also recommends additional support for counseling students who might not otherwise consider attending college.
While the task force does not propose higher tuitions for public institutions, it suggests that in setting tuitions, the board should "bear in mind possible adverse effects of low public tuitions on the enrollments of some independent colleges."
A new poll suggests that, despite an expensive, education-reform effort in their state, most Indiana voters believe the quality of education has stayed the same or worsened over the last four years.
The survey of 800 residents was commissioned by the Indianapolis Star, which printed the results of its poll this month in a series of copyrighted articles.
According to the newspaper, 41.6 percent of those polled said educational quality had remained level and 19.8 percent said it had deteriorated. In addition, the residents surveyed said educational problems are the most urgent issues facing their state--ahead of economic development, highway repair, and government corruption.
The poll also found that an average of 6 out of 10 voters surveyed "strongly" or "moderately" support drug testing in the schools and on the job.