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Members Seek Quicker--And Slower--Pace on Indicators

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Asheville, N.C.--Too fast or too slow?

That was the question faced by the Council of Chief State School Officers last week, when it released its first volume of state data on education.

School chiefs ranging from Gerald N. Tirozzi of Connecticut to Verne A. Duncan of Oregon complained at the chiefs' annual meeting here that the council was not moving quickly enough to produce state-by-state comparisons of student achievement.

Present plans call for such comparisons to be released in late 1990, at the earliest.

"I personally feel there's an urgency" to move faster, Mr. Tirozzi said.

But other chiefs complained that the council was moving too quickly and asking for too much information from the states.

"The tail is beginning to wag the dog," said John M. Folks, superintendent of public instruction in Oklahoma.

"We're being asked constantly to provide more and more data," he said, "and it's becoming very difficult." Gordon M. Ambach, executive director of the council, said such differences of opinion reflect the "genuine confederated" nature of the council's work to produce better indicators of school quality.

"I do not believe you are going to see other organizations move in with different kinds of tests" before the chiefs do, he added. "That is not going to happen."

"You people at the state level have done so much in school reform that you've embarrassed the Congress," John F. Jennings, majority counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Education and Labor, told the chiefs.

"Congress is trying to hurry to catch up."

Mr. Jennings attended the ccsso meeting to accept a distinguished-service award for his boss, Representative Augustus F. Hawkins of California.

"We at the federal level have really not been pulling our weight the last six or seven years," the aide to the committee chairman said.

But he predicted that despite the federal budget crisis, funding for Chapter 1 remedial education would increase by at least 10 percent this fiscal year.

"I see the legislators out there wanting to show that they're positive in education," he said.

The chiefs presented two distinguished-service awards. The other went to Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, a child-advocacy group based in Washington.

The state superintendents' group has joined the long list of national organizations with a policy position on teaching children about acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

"Education is virtually the only means to combat the spread of the aids virus," the chiefs stated.

"Schools must take leadership in educating our young people about aids and how to make appropriate behavior choices to decrease the risk for contracting and spreading the aids virus."

According to the statement, "the particular urgency of the aids epidemic requires that each state should offer effective aids education that is scientifically accurate, age-appropriate, and reflective of community values to every child in grades K-12."

The superintendents passed the proposal by unanimous voice vote. A $302,000 grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control will allow the council to assist nearly 40 states in teaching students about the fatal disease.

Concern that the National Education Association is attempting to "take over" teacher licensure at the state level has spurred the ccsso to survey states on the creation of state professional-standards boards controlled by teachers, said Ted Sanders, president-elect of the organization and Illinois superintendent of education.

During its annual meeting, the chiefs adopted an amendment to their policy statements to make clear their position that licensure should rest with state governing bodies, and not independent boards.

The amendment, proposed by William Thomas McNeel, superintendent of education in West Virginia, reads: "State boards of education and state education agencies must have the final authority to establish and administer standards for the preparation, certification, and continued education of professional personnel."

Mr. McNeel said he supported creation of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which will be doing extensive research before proposing new assessment measures for teachers.

But for now, he said, "the licensure of teachers within the respective states ought to rest with the state boards of education--the governing body--rather than with independent boards."

"We should involve teachers very strongly in making recommendations to that governing body," he added, "but not turn it over to them to develop the standards."

--lo

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