State News Roundup
The Arizona Board of Regents has lowered the passing score on a test required for entry into teacher-training programs, while at the same time tightening admission requirements for state universities.
The board voted last month to reduce the passing score on the teachers' test by three points. Those made newly eligible as a result of the change will have to take an extra course in each of the basic-skills areas in which they are deficient, the board decided.
The change was designed to increase the number of minority students entering teacher-training programs. Black, Hispanic, and Native-American students have passed the test at about half the rate of whites, according to the board.
Under the new college-admission standards, which will take effect in the fall of 1992, resident freshmen will be automatically admitted if they are in the top 25 percent of their high-school class, have a B average, or achieve certain minimum scores on standardized tests.
Currently, students who rank in the top half of their class, have at least a C-plus average, or meet the test minimums receive automatic admission.
Students who satisfy the old but not the new standards will be admitted on the con6dition that they participate in supplementary academic programs.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has taken steps aimed at improving the management and accountability of a program that uses private taxi companies to transport students in St. Louis's interdistrict desegregation plan.
An audit conducted this year revealed that the taxi companies have been billing the state for mileage that in many cases does not reflect the actual distance between students' homes and the schools they attend, state officials said last week.
The federal court order in the St. Louis desegregation case makes the state responsible for providing transportation for students who choose to transfer between city and suburban schools. The state last year spent $1.7 million on taxi rides for the relatively small proportion of students who cannot use existing bus routes.
When contracting s rides, the state will offer a variety of systems, none of which will depend on reporting from the taxi companies, said Judith C. Bellinger, the department's director of pupil transportation.
Additional limits on the scope of contract negotiations for teachers are under consideration by the Maryland Board of Education.
The board is expected to decide at its June 27-28 meeting whether to prohibit bargaining on assignments within a school andtransfers to another school, reassignment of extracurricular duties, demotions, and involuntary transfers from overstaffed schools.
A 1986 ruling by the state Court of Appeals gave the board the authority to determine what could be bargained by local teachers' unions and school districts.
Last year, the board forbade negotiations over the content of teacher evaluations and observations, "down-rating" to second-class certification, and class size.
The Maryland State Teachers Association opposes the proposed limitations and fears that the board eventually will allow teachers to negotiate only wages and hours, said Beverly L. Corelle, president of the union.
The Michigan education department must repay the federal government $465,000 that the state "misspent" on its vocational-rehabilitation program, a federal appellate court has ruled.
The ruling last month by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld an earlier decision by the U.S. Education Department.
The case involved a 1983-84 audit of the state's vocational-rehabilitation program by the federal department's inspector general. The audit found that, in at least 9 of 259 cases studied, vocational-rehabilitation counselors had improperly qualified applicants for the program. Extrapolating that ratio to the entire program, the auditors determined that the state had misspent $718,598 in federal funds. That sum was later reduced to $465,000.