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Gov. Pete Wilson of California has asked the state auditor to conduct a financial and performance examination of the California Learning Assessment System, the innovative tests that have come under fire in recent weeks from conservative groups and parents. (See Education Week, May 4, 1994.)

Mr. Wilson made the request last week on the advice of Maureen DiMarco, the state education secretary, who said that the CLAS was "seriously flawed'' and that the department's handling of the test was "inexcusable.''

Critics have portrayed the test as an invasion of privacy that does not measure essential academic skills.

While acknowledging that there were start-up problems with the tests, William D. Dawson, the acting superintendent of public instruction, said they were being resolved. He cited steps that the department has taken to address the public's concerns, such as appointing a panel of nationally recognized statisticians to review the methodology.

Last week, a superior-court judge in Los Angeles rejected an attempt to halt the use of the test in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Judge Robert O'Brien found that the test questions did not violate a state law that prohibits schools from seeking information about personal beliefs and practices.

Waiver Flip-Flop: Soon after winning a waiver from the state board of education to begin school before Labor Day, the Fairfax County, Va., school board voted last week not to alter its school calendar after all.

"We got caught in the community furor over people who don't want to change their vacation plans,'' Dolores B. Bohen, the assistant superintendent of the Fairfax County schools said, explaining that many parents had complained to the board.

The waiver, granted to the Fairfax County and Loudoun County schools in suburban Washington, was seen as a boon to districts across the state who had argued that school calendars should be under local, not state, control. (See Education Week, May 4, 1994.)

Tourism-industry leaders had argued that an early return to class would cut into the state's late-summer-vacation business.

Fairfax school officials, who chose Sept. 8 as opening day to accommodate the Jewish New Year holiday, which falls in the same week as Labor Day, said that if they apply for a waiver next year, they will be sure to "test the waters first.''

Cleaned Up, Cleaned Out: After every school in the district was closed because of high levels of asbestos in the air, teachers and students have returned to the Warwick, R.I., schools, only to find many valuable items missing from the classrooms.

The city's schools were shut down in March after the discovery of asbestos in one school led to the testing of others; unacceptable levels of asbestos were discovered in all 27 of the district's schools, which were then closed. (See Education Week, April 13, 1994.)

Cleanup of the potential health hazard will cost $2.6 million, Henry Tarlian, the superintendent of the Warwick schools, said.

The district was compiling a list of missing articles, which include cameras and videocassette recorders, in addition to teachers' files that are thought to have been thrown away. He said workers were supposed to wipe down or remove for cleaning objects that may have been contaminated.

Police are investigating and say they have not determined whether the items were stolen or are being cleaned at other locations.

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