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Florida's statewide welfare-to-work program has achieved only mixed success, savng taxpayers money but reducing the incomes of participants, a two-year evaluation has found.

Project Independence, the combined federal and state Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training Program, paid for itself by reducing Aid to Families with Dependent Children payments to participants, most of whom are single mothers.

But the study released last week said the program was not able to increase participants' earnings enough to offset decreases in A.F.D.C. and other welfare payments. Over a five-year period, those in the program realized a net loss averaging $370 each.

The participants who saw sustained gains in earnings were those who had no preschool-age children and who joined the program before the growing caseload reduced the availability of child care.

The New York City-based Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation conducted the study for the state.

Back to the Drawing Board

Designers of the Maine Educational Assessment tests say they will review the new format used on 4th-grade exams following criticism of some of the questions.

This year, for the first time, all questions on the test--taken in January by most 4th graders--required written, open-ended answers. Multiple-choice questions were eliminated.

Supporters say the format better reflects what students know. Critics say some questions were unclear and too difficult. Some teachers said they had trouble understanding many of them.

"It's always been a teacher-designed test," said Polly Ward, the deputy state education commissioner. "We'd like to review their comments."

Token Troubles

Some Connecticut school officials are balking at a change in the way the state's public-transit system charges fares, which could cost districts thousands of dollars a year.

The Connecticut transportation department has replaced single-ride tickets with reusable, 10-ride magnetic fare cards.

The price school districts pay for fares for students, 70 cents per trip, will remain the same with the new token cards. But district officials say they will lose money because the districts will have to shoulder the cost when cards are lost or stolen.

State officials say the new format will allow them to track the number of students riding the buses and stop forgery of the printed paper fare cards.

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