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Texas Gets Grant To Help Track Migrant Students

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Washington--The Education Department late last month awarded $350,000 to the Texas Education Agency to launch a project to help children of migrant farm workers keep track of the academic credits they need to earn a high-school diploma.

The grant will underwrite the first year of a three-year program designed to break down record-keeping and bureaucratic barriers that prevent high-school students from receiving credit for schoolwork done in another state--or even in another district within the same state.

"I think [the project's] going to make a big difference," said Frank Contreras, who oversees the Texas agency's migrant-education proLgram. "It's sad when we hear about students who go to school and then don't get credit."3

The project, known as the National Program for Secondary Credit Exchange and Accrual, was mandated in the Hawkins-Stafford Amendments of 1988.

Mr. Contreras said project offi3cials hope to collect enough information to pinpoint trouble spots in the sharing of information and then see how they can be remedied.

In addition, he said, they will try to build formal agreements between states to ensure that students' credits can be transferred.3

"To get states to agree is a monumental task," Mr. Contreras said, acknowledging that three years is not much time.3

He said the project represents the "groundwork" for the kind of special high-school diploma for migrant students that President Bush has backed. (See Education Week, Oct. 3, 1990.)

As part of the project, the tea plans to create a data base that would keep track of state rules that affect credit awards and agreements among states, as well as track student enrollment and graduation rates--a first for any federal program, according to Mr. Contreras. Through that data base, he added, the project would be able to calculate for the first time the national graduation rate for all migrant students. In an effort to assess needs and to identify trouble spots, each of three satellite centers for the Texas project--in Geneseo, N.Y., Chicago, and Grandview, Wash.--will talk to officials for four state migrant programs, Mr. Contreras said.

Next, a questionnaire will be sent to the 49 states that have migrant programs (only Hawaii has no pro gram), as well as to Puerto Rico's mi grant program. The questionnaire will try to assess, among other things, the degree to which information is shared, what the impediments are, and whether full or partial credits are accepted from other states.--ml

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