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Both the Chicago public schools and the Illinois State Board of Education have reached settlements with the U.S. Education Department's office for civil rights, which had threatened to cut off federal funds in a dispute over the placement of special-education students.

The O.C.R. had threatened to withhold special-education funds from the state and the district after an investigation uncovered unacceptable conditions in the private facilities where Chicago placed many of the district's students with disabilities, and inadequacies in the placement process itself. (See Education Week, Feb. 16, 1994.)

The Chicago district is now working on a three-year plan to serve as many of the students as possible in public facilities.

The Illinois State Board of Education, which was responsible for the accreditation of the private facilities, must enforce standards for staff certification, class size, and age range comparable to those applied to public facilities; insure that students' individual education plans conform to state and federal regulations; and see that inadequate facilities are closed.

Arts Assessment: An independent federal panel on March 5 unanimously approved an ambitious new framework for a new national assessment of student achievement in the arts.

The framework approved by the National Assessment Governing Board will guide development of the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress test for students in grades 4, 8, and 12, and is modeled on new national standards for arts education.

On another matter, the board unanimously approved a resolution opposing the idea of adjusting NAEP scores to account for differences among states in resources and in demographic characteristics, which federal officials are exploring.

The board said such scores would be "subject to serious methodological and political challenge and would be contrary to the strong national commitment to encouraging high standards for all children.''

Business Liaison: Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley has named Margarita H. Colmenares, a manager at Chevron Chemical Co., as director of corporate liaison.

In a news release, the Secretary said Ms. Colmenares will be a "voice for the business community within our department.''

Ms. Colmenares served as a White House fellow in 1991, and worked with David Kearns, a former deputy secretary of education.

Head Start Post: Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala has named Helen Hollingshed Taylor, who has been active in associations and advisory panels concerned with early-childhood education, associate commissioner of the Head Start Bureau.

Ms. Taylor served most recently as the executive director of the National Child Day Care Association in Washington, D.C., a model program serving some 1,200 children.

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