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The number of New York State residents taking the General Educational Development test was cut nearly in half after the state began charging a $25 fee, according to figures from the state education department.

Citing budget problems, the state began charging the fee on Sept. 1, 1991. During the last four months of 1991, a total of 11,300 people took the high-school-equivalency test. During the same period in 1990, 21,612 people took the test.

The decrease in test-takers began immediately after the fee was imposed, Commissioner of Education Thomas Sobol announced this month. Only 880 people took the 71/2-hour series of examinations in September, compared with 6,271 people in August.

While the number for December-3,682--was considerably higher, Mr. Sobol said, the number of test-takers still is below expectations.

The department says it must continue to charge the fee unless it receives some $1.3 million from the state legislature to run the program.

The department is also weighing plans to administer the test free of charge to people on public assistance or in job-training programs.

Crowded Okla. Districts Lose $1.6 Million in State Funds

Eighty-three Oklahoma school districts will lose a total of more than $1.6 million in state aid this year because they failed to comply with state class-size mandates, officials announced this month.

The Tulsa school district--the state's largest-will lose $587,806 this year, the biggest single penalty assessed against districts that failed to meet restrictions on class size mandated in House Bill 1017, the Education Reform and Funding Act of 1990.

The Tulsa fine represents slightly less than 1 percent of the district's $63.6 million in state aid this year. The 40,000-student district had 281 students in classes that exceeded the maximum size, education department figures show.

The Mustang school district in Canadian County ranked second with $222,680 in penalties, or about 2.3 percent of its $9.5 million in state-aid monies. A total of 106 children in the 6,000-student district were in classes that exceeded the maximum sizes.

The measure set maximum class sizes for the 1991-92 school year at 23 students for kindergarten, 21 for grades 1-3, and 22 for grades 4-6. All elementary grades must meet a class-size ceiling of 20 by the 199394 school year.

This was the second year of such penalties. In 1991, penalties totaling nearly $2.9 million were levied against 98 districts--10 of which saw them forgiven because of a now-closed "loophole" in the law, education-department officials said.

The Tulsa and Mustang districts were among those 10, the officials noted.


The Kentucky state school board will ask the state legislature to allow school districts to convert five instructional days into teacher-training periods if they submit an acceptable training plan to state officials.

The board approved the proposal this month after educators had complained that they were not adequately prepared to implement some of the reform programs spawned by the state's 1990 landmark school-reform law.

The state plan, which would trim the number of instructional days in the school year to 170, won out over a proposal to add five training days to the year. The latter approach would have required increased funding.

State officials said the plan would make the extra training time an option only during the next two years and would consider only training plans that focus directly on the state's reform efforts.

"With the massive changes in direction, the feedback we're getting is that people cannot absorb all of the changes within the present four days of inservice training," Jim Parks, a spokesman for the state education department, said.

"This action was taken with some reluctance, but, given the budget circumstances and the amount of change we're expecting, we have to have more retraining," Mr. Parks added.

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