News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Wash. Education Department Orders $2.2 Million Repayment
An audit from the Washington state education department charges that a nonprofit agency failed to provide required services to migrant students and should repay $2.2 million in federal aid.
The audit, released Nov. 16, found that the Washington State Migrant Council did not provide accurate counts for the number of children eligible for various federal programs, which meant the council received more aid than it was entitled to. Auditors also found that the group did not offer as many hours of service as it was supposed to.
The migrant council, which receives $20 million in state and federal aid annually to provide social, educational, and nutritional services to Washington migrant farm workers' families, disputes many of the audit's findings.
The council has 30 days to present its evidence; then, the state schools superintendent will decide what steps to take.
Arizona Postpones Exit Exam
The Arizona state school board voted last week to push back for one year a requirement that students pass a graduation test in order to receive a high school diploma, amid concerns that not enough schools are offering the material students were to be tested on.
Originally, the Class of 2001 was slated to be the first required to pass the test, which measures proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematics against state standards adopted in 1996.
This year's sophomores will still take the test, but the Class of 2002 will be the first that needs it to graduate. The state schools chief, Lisa Graham Keegan, recommended the change after hearing teachers and parents complain that they had not seen the academic standards until this fall.
Students first take each of the test's seven parts in the sophomore year. If they fail any segment of the test, they can retake it up to four more times.
Texas Agency Finds Dallas Errors
The Texas Education Agency has uncovered extensive accounting errors made by the Dallas Independent School District and has instructed the district to draft a plan showing how officials intend to fix the problem.
The report, which includes attendance data from the 1996-97 school year, is used by state officials to calculate how much state aid the district should receive. Every district is required to submit at least two such reports a year.
Bookkeeping errors by the district totaled $560 million and showed up in the way students within certain educational programs were counted.
Leaders of the 160,000-student district blame the mistakes on turnover within the district and a new computer-software program.
They have hired a former state deputy education commissioner to help correct the problems.
Vol. 18, Issue 14, Page 20