News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Florida Delays Choice On K-12 Chancellor
Florida's search for the state's first chancellor of K-12 schools had nearly reached its end last week when the search committee decided to extend the hunt.
Two finalists have emerged: Carmen V. Russo, the Baltimore schools' chief executive officer, and Clifford B. Janey, the former superintendent in Rochester, N.Y.
But members of the state board of education and Florida Secretary of Education Jim Horne decided more finalists were needed for interviews, said state board spokesman Bill Edmonds.
The search might extend into late October, he said.
Ms. Russo has a home in Florida and was the deputy superintendent of the Broward County schools, based in Fort Lauderdale, until she left for the 93,000-student system in Baltimore two years ago.
Mr. Janey left the 39,000-student Rochester district in August. ("Rochester Mayor Fights Janey's Exit Deal," this issue.)
Florida officials want someone experienced at running a large school system for the new K-12 post. The chancellor will serve under the state's appointed education secretary, Mr. Horne, who oversees the entire "K-20" education system with the state board of education. "Florida Breaking Down Walls Between K-12, Higher Ed.," Feb. 13, 2002.
Standards Make Difference, Illinois Study Contends
Illinois schools that implemented an optional system of standards and assessment for learning saw improvements in their students' scores on statewide standardized tests for the 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades, according to a study commissioned by state education officials.
The new report, which drew on a random sampling of 61 schools across the state, provides what may be the most comprehensive look to date of the link between classroom standards and success on standardized tests in Illinois, state officials and researchers who worked on the study suggested.
The study concluded that schools that made a greater effort to use the Illinois Learning Standards in classroom instruction saw their scores on the Illinois Standards Assessment Test, or ISAT, rise for 3rd grade reading and for 5th and 8th grade mathematics.
Scores in the other subjects within each grade saw no significant changes, said Lizanne DeStefano, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and one of the researchers who completed the study.
The study, "Evaluation of the Implementation of Illinois Learning Standards, Year Four Report," can be viewed at www.isbe.net, under "Hot News."
West Virginia Reviews Time Spent on Buses
How much time do West Virginia students spend on school buses? The state is starting a program to find out.
The state board of education asked the state schools superintendent to launch the program. The move was prompted by statewide enrollment declines, which in turn have led more districts to consider school district consolidations. Such changes usually mean new transportation patterns— including longer bus rides.
Data gathered through the project will be used to determine how much time students already spend on buses in existing districts and in consolidated districts.
"There is concern about the time the students spend on buses," said Wayne Clutter, the state education department's transportation director. "We are going to require local districts to submit the information on whether they exceed our guidelines."
State guidelines recommend maximum one-way-trip times for school bus rides. For elementary school pupils, it is 30 minutes. For middle school, it's 45 minutes, and for high school the amount of time is 60 minutes.
"Now is a good time to do this," Mr. Clutter added.
—Lisa Fine Goldstein
Company Drops Suit Against Georgia Dept.
A Dover, N.H.-based testing company has dropped its lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Education, after the department agreed to pay the $2.2 million it owed the company.
Department officials were withholding the money from Advanced Systems in Measurement and Evaluation/Measured Progress, which developed the state's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, because they said the company did not provide a Web-based version of the test with sample questions and a database of future questions.
In the next few weeks, school districts will receive student test scores from tests taken in the spring, which could have been held up indefinitely by litigation. The results include those in mathematics, reading, and English in grades 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7, and science and social studies in grades 3-8. The math, reading, and English results in grades 4, 6, and 8 were released in late August.
This is the last year, however, that the company will be handling the test contract in Georgia. Beginning this month, Riverside Publishing of Itasca, Ill., will begin a 61/2-year contract with the state worth $83.7 million.
"Next year, the results will be there before school starts," said Sarah Abbott, a department spokeswoman.
The complication with the CRCT results is the latest in a series of problems Georgia has had with its testing companies. For the past two years, the state's Stanford Achievement Test-9th Edition scores, which are scored by Harcourt Educational Measurement, were returned with errors, and this year they were thrown out completely.
States Have New Resource To Find How They Rank
Education leaders who want to know how their states stack up against other states in school spending, dropout rates, number of high school students who drink alcohol, and a host of other areas have a new resource.
The Morgan Quitno Press in Lawrence, Kan., which has published resource books on state health- care and crime rankings, has expanded into education with its new book, Education State Rankings 2002-2003.
Using data from federal and state agencies, as well as education interest groups, the book features more than 400 tables state comparisons and rankings. Among the topics of comparisons are per-pupil expenditures, test scores, and safety and discipline.
Information on purchasing the 448-page book or a CD-Rom can be obtained by calling (800) 457-0742.
—Robert C. Johnston
Vol. 22, Issue 5, Page 18