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Idaho Board Suspends Use Of National Teacher Exam

The Idaho state school board has reversed its policy requiring teachers to pass the National Teacher Examination to obtain certification.

The board voted last month to stop using the test as a basis for granting a teaching certificate, a practice the state adopted in 1988. The suspension is temporary, but the board is expected to make the switch permanent later this year.

Members of minority groups and others had criticized the test as culturally biased. Research also indicated that it was not the best predictor of a candidate's teaching ability.

The state is adopting alternative requirements, such as school district assessments of potential teachers.

Construction Halted: New York State education officials have put nearly 300 district-level school-construction projects on hold in anticipation of budget cuts.

The state education department last month announced that it had fired or reassigned the 24 members of its school-facilities division. Those layoffs include engineers and architects who are responsible for approving school-building projects, a department spokesman said.

In his January budget proposal, Gov. George E. Pataki aimed to cut 300 positions from the education department, including the entire facilities-planning staff.

Under his budget plan, review of schools' compliance with safety and environmental requirements would be handled by local code-enforcement officials.

The legislature is continuing its negotiations on the Governor's budget proposal.

Seeking Finance Solutions: The Arizona education department will host a school-finance summit this summer in an effort to redesign the state's school-funding formula.

The state supreme court last year ruled part of the formula unconstitutional, saying it produces wide disparities in the ability of individual districts to build schools, maintain existing buildings, and buy equipment.

State Superintendent Lisa Graham announced the summit, scheduled for June 19-21 in Phoenix, last week at a news conference.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Graham said that roughly 75 participants will be invited, representing principals, teachers, parents, administrators, legislators, and the business community.

The legislature is expected to take up the funding formula in a special session, possibly in late summer or fall. The court did not set a date for the legislature to act on the funding system, but directed it to correct the inequities within a reasonable time.

School Violence Charted: A recent study of 50 Texas school districts contradicts the notion that large urban schools are more crime-ridden than their smaller suburban counterparts.

Researchers from Sam Houston State University, the state department of public safety, and the Texas Education Agency coordinated their efforts after the state Senate requested the statistics for public school crimes.

The study found that the number of violent incidents per 10,000 students on campuses in the Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio districts was approximately half that of the suburban schools.

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