News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
OCR Clears N.C. Schools Program
The U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights has found no evidence that North Carolina's new school accountability program is unfair to minority administrators and teachers who work with disadvantaged students.
In a recent letter to state schools Superintendent Mike Ward, the OCR said the program--which released its first school-by-school assessment results last year--is too new to gauge its impact. "Since the program has just begun within the past year, there is no evidence that the program affects minority principals and/or teachers at low-performing schools disproportionately," the letter stated. ("N.C. Gets First School-by-School Performance Results," Sept. 3, 1997.)
The ruling came in response to a complaint filed last December by Larry Fields, the principal of Latham Elementary School in Winston-Salem. He alleged that the ABCs of Public Education program, which rewards or penalizes principals and teachers based on students' performance on state tests, is biased against schools that face the most challenges. Mr. Fields said last week that he is encouraged by proposed changes to the system that he believes would more fairly assess the work of principals and teachers. He added, however, that he will continue to monitor the law for its impact on minority educators and students.
Colo. Links Goals, Accreditation
Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado has signed a bill that requires school districts to meet achievement goals to receive accreditation from the state.
The measure is an important step in Colorado's 5-year-old effort to reform its school standards and assessments, the Democratic governor said late last month. Under the law, each district must enter into an accreditation contract with the state board of education. The six-year contracts will define student-achievement standards and goals that the districts must meet.
The state education department will monitor progress and could place a district on probation if it fails to implement a plan. The law also adds some new statewide assessments, including mathematics and science tests for 8th graders, starting in spring 2000, and reading, writing, and math assessments for 10th graders, beginning in spring 2001.
Vol. 17, Issue 39, Page 20