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The number of high school students who took Advanced Placement examinations grew again last year, and the proportion of test-takers who were members of minority groups also increased, the College Board reported this month.

In 1992, 378,692 students took 566,036 of the college-level tests, the board reported, up from 351,144 students who took 523,326 A.P. tests a year ago. The number of 1992 examinations is nearly triple the 189,146 taken in 1982.

As in past years, two-thirds of the tests in 1992 received a score of 3 or more on the exams, a level generally accepted for course credit at many colleges and universities.

Minority students made up 27 percent of test-takers in 1992, the board found, up from 26 percent in 1991 and nearly double the 14 percent of the 1982 test-taking population. The number of A.P. grades of 3 or higher for minority students increased by 14 percent--to 90,000--over 1991, compared with an 8 percent increase for white students.

The proportion of women who took exams in the sciences also increased, but women continue to lag behind men in those fields. In 1992, 41 percent of the mathematics and science exams were taken by women, and they earned 38 percent of the grades of 3 or higher. In 1987, by contrast, 37 percent of the math and science exams were taken by women. Over all, women constituted 53 percent of the A.P. test-takers this year.

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia has ordered the judge overseeing a massive suit by schools against asbestos manufacturers to disqualify himself from issuing any further rulings.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit agreed with a motion by the defendants in the case and told U.S. District Judge James McGirr Kelly he could no longer oversee it.

The defendants, nearly 30 asbestos manufacturers, had asked the appeals court to disqualify Judge Kelly because he had attended a 1990 conference at which the dangers of asbestos exposure were discussed.

"Although we believe the Judge acted with integrity at all times, we also believe the circumstances surrounding his attendance at the conference created an appearance of partiality,'' the appeals-court judges said in their ruling.

The case has been reassigned to U.S. District Judge James T. Giles.

In their class action, 35,000 public and private schools are attempting to recoup the costs of testing for and removing asbestos and are seeking punitive damages from the companies.

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