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Hundreds of Virginia Seniors Fail 6th-Grade-Level Test

More than 500 Virginia 12th graders may not graduate this year because they failed to pass a state test that measures 6th-grade proficiency in reading, writing, and math.

This year's senior class is the first to be required to pass the statewide test in order to get a diploma. The state began administering the test to 6th graders in 1989; students must take the test every year until they pass.

The seniors who failed the three-part test in October took the exam again last month. The results were not available last week. They will have another chance to take the test this summer, the officials said.

Public School Performance

Michigan public school students outscored their private school counterparts on a 4th-grade math assessment in 1995--the first year the state has made such comparisons.

Michigan gives math and reading tests to 4th and 7th graders in the public schools each year. To enable comparisons, the state last year paid for testing for about 5,000 private school students.

Of the 4th graders in public schools who took the math test last year, 63 percent earned at least a satisfactory score. About 57 percent of the 4th-grade private school students scored as well. About half of both public and private school 4th graders earned at least a satisfactory score on the reading test.

State education officials cautioned that a one-year comparison is not enough to draw conclusions about the relative merits of instruction at public and private schools.

Missourians on Education

Missouri residents are more skeptical than Americans in general that public schools can provide a basic education in a safe environment. But they are more resistant to alternatives to public schools, a new study concludes.

Missourians said their top three requirements of schools were that they provide skills students will need as adults, that they be safe and orderly, and that they teach the basics, according to "Committed to Change: Missouri Citizens and Public Education." Public Agenda, a nonprofit research organization in New York City, polled 500 Missouri residents at the request of the Missouri Partnership for Outstanding Schools.

To order the report, call the Missouri Partnership for Outstanding Schools at (800) 659-4044.

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