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Students in grades 3 through 11 will spend an average of 8.6 hours being tested this year. Under the plan, proposed by State Commissioner of Education Lionel Meno, that figure would drop to 5.3 hours. Tests would be expanded to cover social studies and science in addition to the current focus on mathematics, reading, and writing.

The Texas Assessment of Academic Skills would be given to students in grades 4, 8, and 10, instead of the current practice of testing youths in grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11, an education-department official said. Test dates would be moved from October to May.

The state board took no action on the plan when it was presented. Legislation may be required to implement some of the changes, officials noted. If approved, the changes would be in place by the fall of 1994.


The South Carolina Board of Education has given preliminary approval to a measure that would encourage a "moment of silent meditation" in public schools.

The measure, adopted this month, replaces a proposal endorsed by the board in December that encouraged prayer in schools. The December proposal was amended after complaints that it had been adopted without public comment. The board will take a second and final vote on the silent-meditation measure in March.

The resolution states that public-school children "need the inspiration, motivation, and discipline of the religious values on which our country was founded."

In a related matter, a bill that calls for one minute of silent prayer at the beginning of the school day has been sponsored by more than half of the members of the state's House of Representatives.

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