State News Roundup
Arizona Test Halted Over Accuracy Concerns
Arizona's new state schools chief has suspended use of a state achievement test over concerns that it does not reflect what students learn in the classroom.
Superintendent Lisa Graham shelved the test for one year because reports from the test publisher suggested it might not be statistically valid, a spokeswoman for Ms. Graham said.
The test is part of the Arizona Student Assessment Program, which includes an "essential skills" curriculum approved by the legislature in 1990. Some districts have reported that students have performed well on other tests of those skills, but then do poorly on the yearly exam.
The test has been given to 3rd, 8th, and 12th graders. It uses such tasks as interpreting poetry and conducting science experiments to measure their skills.
Some observers said they feared the suspension would damage other elements of the state assessment program.
Ms. Graham's spokeswoman said, however, that the department supports the overall program.
More than $1.6 million in technology-education grants will give dozens of Texas school districts direct access to the state's electronic education network.
The grants from the state education department, ranging from $24,000 to more than $100,000, will help 56 districts connect with the Texas Education Network, state officials said.
Most of the state's 1,055 school districts can only access the network, known as tenet, through modems and telephone lines, said Connie Stout, the network's director. The yearly grants will allow districts to link their computers directly to the network without using telephone lines, she said.
Tenet users can tap electronic encyclopedias, college libraries, and other features of the Internet, the massive international computer network. The state system also links school districts, regional offices, and the state education department.
The grant winners were selected from among 135 districts that submitted proposals detailing how the new technology would help their schools.