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Maryland education officials plan to replace the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills with a more modern standardized test in time for the 1996-97 school year.

Third, 5th, and 8th graders will not have to take the test during the 1995-96 school year.

The state school board "recommended a one-year hiatus because they wanted to have time to look thoroughly at other testing options out there," said Ron Peiffer, an assistant state superintendent.

The new exams will be given every two years, Mr. Peiffer said.

Code Violations Uncovered: A recent review of about 400 school fire-inspection reports in South Dakota revealed that more than two dozen schools had serious violations, officials said.

The review found that some schools had chained emergency exits or were not equipped with working fire extinguishers.

Poor record-keeping by past administrations allowed inspections of the state's 773 schools to lapse, said David Volk, the state commerce and regulatory secretary.

None of the schools are in danger of closing due to the violations, Mr. Volk said.

State officials are in the process of installing a computerized system to track inspection reports, he said.

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