State News Roundup
The impressive scores of Wisconsin's high-school students on the two major college-admissions tests are "superficial indicators'' of academic success that have obscured an "internal brain drain'' in the state, a controversial new study concludes.
Wisconsin students rank first in the nation on the American College Testing Program examination and eighth on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, notes the report's author, William Durden, director of The Johns Hopkins University's center for the advancement of academically talented youth. But, he stresses, relatively few of the state's students take the tests.
Of the 28 states relying primarily on the A.C.T., only five have a lower participation rate than Wisconsin's, according to the report. And, it says, the state's participation rate for the S.A.T.--14.6 percent--is below that of 33 states and the District of Columbia. Neither test is required for admission to the University of Wisconsin.
In addition, the study found, Wisconsin ranks 46th nationally in the percentage of students who participate in the College Board's Advanced Placement program.
Such findings, it concludes, suggest that the state's college-bound students are failing to reach their their full potential. It calls for a "radical change of attitude and practice'' to lift the performance of Wisconsin students and increase their participation in the testing programs.
The report, prepared for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute in Milwaukee, drew a sharp rebuttal from the state's school chief last week.
"That isn't even a study, it's a statement--no one could depict it as having any academic value,'' said Herbert J. Grover, superintendent of public instruction. "The Secretary of Education's 'wall chart' says we rank at the top of the nation.''
Copies of the report, "Wisconsin's Internal Brain Drain: The State's Most Valuable--and Underdeveloped--Resource,'' are available from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, 3107 North Shepard Ave., Milwaukee, Wis. 53211.
The New Jersey Education Department has proposed adding bilingual-education and English-as-a-second-language certification to the list of fields in which liberal-arts graduates may earn provisional teaching certificates.
The plan, which is intended to address shortages and would eliminate emergency licenses in those fields, will be presented to the state board of education next month. Department officials said they hope it will be approved before the end of the year.
Under New Jersey's "alternative route'' program, college graduates who have not completed teacher-preparation courses may obtain certification through a three-year state training program.
Bilingual-education and E.S.L. certifications had been excluded from the program because of language-proficiency requirements and regulations that require bilingual teachers to be certified in both subject-area and bilingual methods.
"By developing these provisional teacher programs, we will be bringing bilingual and E.S.L. licensing into line with virtually all other teaching fields in the state,'' Commissioner of Education Saul Cooperman said in a statement.
"More importantly, as with all our efforts in teacher recruitment and licensing,'' he continued, "these programs will help to increase the supply and quality of candidates in these fields and, at the same time, raise the certification standards for those candidates.''
Teachers in Rhode Island are not entitled to automatic credit toward their pensions for time served in the military, the state's supreme court has ruled.
The seniority rights guaranteed to veterans in two sections of state law were not intended to include retirement credits, Chief Justice Thomas F. Fay wrote in a unanimous opinion released June 8.
He noted that another state law allows teachers and other members of the state retirement system to purchase retirement credits for military service.
The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers had filed a class action seeking automatic credits under the law governing seniority rights.
One section of the law guarantees that any veteran returning to a state job within one year of leaving the military will not lose seniority for time spent in the service. The other section, which was repealed by the legislature in 1985, applied similar rules to veterans who first entered state employment after leaving military service.
The provisions "grant the plaintiffs seniority rights within their place of employ, not retirement credits toward their pensions,'' Justice Fay wrote. "Although this statute does not define seniority rights, this court does not find them to be the equivalent of retirement credits.''
The ruling upheld the dismissal of the suit by a superior-court judge last year.
State officials estimated that if the supreme court had ruled in favor of the union, some 16,000 teachers would have qualified for extra benefits. In addition, some 18,000 other state employees would probably have qualified for such benefits.
The North Carolina Board of Education has approved a plan to expand the state's high-school achievement-testing program to 14 subjects--10 more than the current number--by 1992-93.
Students taking a course in any of the 14 subjects would be required to take a standardized test in that subject during the regular examination period. Not all subjects included on the expanded list are required for graduation.
The board also recommended that teachers use the results to determine students' final grades in the subjects tested.
The state now gives tests for algebra I and II, U.S. history, and biology, and will begin administering tests in geometry and chemistry next year.