News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Wyoming Pushes Back Testing Requirements
The Wyoming board of education has voted to delay holding students accountable for meeting new state graduation requirements.
Education officials had said that all Wyoming high school students would have to show proficiency in language arts and mathematics beginning in 2003 to earn a high school diploma. On Nov. 14, the board extended the deadline until 2005.
At that time, students will be responsible for demonstrating proficiency in language arts, math, science, and social studies. The following year, the students will be required to meet standards for career/vocational education, fine and performing arts, foreign language, and health.
To determine whether a student has mastered the standards, a school will be expected to collect what the state is calling a "body of evidence" of student progress, such as students' scores on state assessments and their grades in core courses. The state, in turn, will review the assessment systems that districts have set up.
Annette Bohling, the director of graduation requirements for the Wyoming Department of Education, said the state wanted to give districts more time to get those assessment systems up and running.
"We're holding districts accountable first before holding students responsible," she said.
—Adrienne D. Coles
Pennsylvania District Wins Round
In Writing-Test Fight
Pennsylvania's mandatory writing test could be in jeopardy following a recent court decision.
The legal wrangling began earlier this fall, when the 7,400-student Seneca Valley district announced it would not administer the state-mandated writing exams in grades 6, 9, and 11.
The district maintains that legislation passed this year eliminated the writing tests from the list of required state assessments.
In a preliminary decision this month, Commonwealth Court Judge Eunice Ross agreed and ruled the southwestern Pennsylvania district did not have to give the test until a hearing on the case was held. No date has been set for a hearing.
A spokesman for the state education department, which maintains that the writing test is integral to determining if a district is meeting learning standards, said most schools were voluntarily giving the exam before the department made it mandatory this year.
Nearly 50 Pennsylvania districts have adopted resolutions opposing the exams, arguing that the districts themselves could do a better job measuring their students' skills.
—Robert C. Johnston
Vol. 20, Issue 13, Page 18