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A California superior court judge ruled last week that public school districts must administer the California Learning Assessment System examination.

Although the decision technically applies to a single district--the Antelope Valley Union High School District--state education officials sent letters to the other five districts that refused to administer the controversial test, formally advising them of the court's ruling and telling them to comply. (See Education Week, May 4, 1994.)

The court ruled in favor of the state education department on the grounds that the district had to "discharge any duty imposed by law upon it.''

The law in question authorized the education department to develop an assessment system that local districts were required to administer.

Susie Lange, a spokeswoman for the department, said last week that most of the schools that refused to give the exam were still in session and could administer it before the school year ends.

CLAS advocates maintain that the exam promotes higher-level thinking skills because it requires students to write and to analyze information. But, critics say, it is an unreliable and value-laden testing instrument that invades the privacy of students and their families.

Teachers Protest; E.A.I. Cleared: The Baltimore Teachers Union last week marched on the district's headquarters and city hall to call for the resignation of Superintendent Walter G. Amprey, who has angered union leaders with his support for school privatization.

Union officials said the protest was not touched off by the superintendent's views on privatization, but by a letter he recently issued warning of possible reassignments and layoffs. Nevertheless, much of the union's wrath was directed at the superintendent's continued support for Education Alternatives Inc., a for-profit firm that manages several district schools.

Union leaders backed off their calls for the superintendent's resignation after a closed-door meeting with Mr. Amprey, who planned to consult with school board members before announcing details of a new accord.

In a related development, the Maryland education department last month cleared Education Alternatives of any violations in its handling of federal Chapter 1 funds alleged by the B.T.U.'s parent union, the American Federation of Teachers.

The A.F.T. had filed a complaint charging that E.A.I. could not account for $400,000 in unspent Chapter 1 funds. The state department said its inquiry determined that the charge was "unfounded'' and that the funds were being handled according to federal guidelines and routinely being carried over into the next fiscal year. (See Education Week, May 25, 1994.)

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