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The Oregon state education board has approved a list of definitions of standards students must meet to receive a "certificate of initial mastery'' under the state's school-restructuring plan.

Approved by the legislature in 1991, the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century will eliminate traditional diplomas, instead requiring students to earn the certificate before advancing to two more years of college-preparatory studies or job training. (See Education Week, June 10, 1992.)

The state plans to begin awarding the new certificates during the 1996-97 school year. Students will be expected to earn the certificates by the end of 10th grade or age 16.

To qualify under the newly approved standards, students must demonstrate competency in reading, writing, and public speaking; use technology to process information and solve problems; apply science and math concepts to real-world situations; and work collaboratively in teams.

After receiving the initial certificate, students can prepare for a "certificate of advanced mastery'' in college-prep classes or programs linking professional-technical courses with on-the-job training.

The U.S. Supreme Court has taken steps to keep additional audiotapes of its oral arguments out of the hands of a researcher who edited a book and tape collection of landmark cases.

May It Please the Court ... was co-edited by Peter Irons, a history professor at the University of California at San Diego. Mr. Irons admits that he violated a written agreement with the National Archives not to reproduce for commercial sale the tapes of 23 oral arguments he had copied from the collection. (See Education Week, Sept. 15, 1993.)

The collection, released last month by the New Press, is being sold for $75.

The Supreme Court's public-information office has said the Justices are considering what "legal remedies'' they might take against Mr. Irons for his alleged breach of contract in releasing the tapes.

The Court has already retaliated against the researcher by requiring that the Archives obtain permission from the marshal of the Court before releasing additional tapes of oral arguments to him.

In a letter to the Archives, the marshal, Alfred Wong, said Mr. Irons has demonstrated a "willingness to violate the agreements he signed'' not to duplicate the tapes. Mr. Wong requested that the Archives refer to him "for consideration'' any future requests for tapes from Mr. Irons.

The Los Angeles school district has decided to bow out of a scrap with the developer Donald Trump over use of the Ambassador Hotel.

The hotel, once a glamorous gathering place for the rich and famous, closed in 1988. The district began legal proceedings to condemn the property and confiscate most of the 23.5-acre site, with an eye to building a new high school to relieve overcrowding in area schools.

But Mr. Trump and associates planned a hotel and office complex on the site, in a neighborhood that has become seedy and neglected, and refused to sell for the $47 million offered by the district. (See Education Week, May 23, 1990.)

This month, district officials decided to stop the legal proceedings and look elsewhere for a site for the new school.

A former high school student in Olivehurst, Calif., has been sentenced to death for killing a teacher and three students at his old school last year.

Napa County Superior Court Judge W. Scott Snowden pronounced the sentence on Eric Houston, 22, last month.

Mr. Houston was convicted in May for the murders at Lindhurst High School on May 1, 1992. He arrived during the school day heavily armed, apparently seeking revenge against Robert Brens, his former civics teacher. Mr. Brens had failed Mr. Houston, preventing him from graduating.

Mr. Houston shot Mr. Brens to death, took 80 students hostage, and killed three students at random during the incident, which drew national attention. (See Education Week, May 13, 1992.)

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