News in Brief
Gov. Gerald L. Baliles of Virginia has proposed toughening the state's high-school graduation requirements.
Mr. Baliles also urged that schools be required to establish a seven-period day to accommodate greater emphasis on world studies, foreign languages, and communications skills.
Under the new standards, students would have to attain 24 credits for graduation in either an "advanced studies" or "applied academics (vocational)" program. A longer school day would be needed to enable students to take elective courses, which would not be counted as credits toward graduation.
The proposal, devised with the help of Superintendent of Public Instruction S. John Davis and Secretary of Education Donald J. Finlay, seeks to reduce the percentage of students who currently graduate from high school without completing the advanced-studies track or following a vocational-education sequence.
Current standards offer students the choice of earning 21 credits for a "regular" diploma or 23 credits for the advanced-studies degree.
The recommendations were outlined last month as part of the Governor's report, "Progress and A New Agenda for the 1990's," released at a press conference before last month's national education summit.
The state board of education is not expected to consider the proposal until it completes its current study of curricular needs for the next decade.
Connecticut Panel Begins Desegregation Study
A commission appointed by Gov. William A. O'Neill of Connecticut met for the first time this month to begin a 14-month examination of ways to encourage the desegregation of the state's schools.
The 25-member panel was charged with reviewing existing integration programs, such as magnet schools, as well as identifying changes in school-construction policies that might foster integration. In addition, the committee is expected to consider proposals for recruiting and retaining minority teachers and for encouraging interdistrict cooperation.
Commissioner of Education Gerald N. Tirozzi, in a report issued in April, had urged Governor O'Neill to create the panel. The report recommended a set of voluntary approaches to relieving racial imbalances in the state's schools.
Some 80 percent of Connecticut's minority students, the report found, are concentrated in 14 of the state's 165 districts.
But the report evoked hostile reactions from civil-rights lawyers, who filed suit on behalf of Hartford students to force the state to desegregate education. The lawsuit claims that racial separation violates students' rights to equal educational opportunity.
Stormy relations between Utah's state board and superintendent have undermined their credibility, according to a private consultant's study of the board.
Friction between the board and Superintendent of Public Instruction James R. Moss, the study argues, has resulted from a lack of clear definition of their respective roles.
The $26,000 study by the Hendrix Information Group was based on interviews with 45 state officials, legislators, business leaders, local school-board members, and parents.
The consultants called on the board to meet soon in executive session to work out the proper roles for the board and the superintendent and to settle on five objectives that need to be accomplished over the next 18 months.
A bill in Georgia that would outlaw corporal punishment in elementary and middle schools faces "an uphill battle," its sponsor has conceded.
Representative Dick Lane, chairman of a panel on school discipline that proposed the bill, said the opposition of Lieut. Gov. Zell B. Miller and Speaker of the House Thomas B. Murphy will make passage of the ban difficult.
"But I think it can be overcome," Mr. Lane added, noting that he had supported corporal punishment until he heard arguments against the practice by educators, parents, and psychiatrists who testified before his committee.
The measure will be formally introduced in next year's session, he said.
Stung by North Carolina's last-place ranking on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, Superintendent of Public Instruction Bobby R. Etheridge has formed a task force on improving the state's schools.
The Task Force on Excellence in Secondary Education, made up of top business and education leaders, will be chaired by L. Richardson Preyer of Greensboro, a former member of the U.S. House and federal judge.
"I am sure that this group will come up with a plan that will get our state off the bottom of the list and up to a level that is more acceptable to all of us," Mr. Etheridge said this month in announcing the group. "We don't want education in North Carolina to get failing grades."
The task force is to make its recommendations to Mr. Etheridge by May 1.
Forty-four states currently require teachers to pass competency tests, according to a new federally funded report.
The study by the Washington-based American Institutes for Research found that the number of states mandating testing for elementary and secondary teachers had more than quadrupled since 1980, when 10 did so. The only states that do not administer such tests, the report said, are Alaska, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Vermont.
The study noted that states use two types of competency tests: admissions tests for those applying to teacher-education programs, and certification tests for graduates of such programs.
Twenty-six states require admissions tests and 36 require certification exams, the study said, while 18 mandate both.