State News Roundup

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Nearly one-third of the 450,000 Arizona students who took a state-required standardized achievement test were given incorrect scores by the computer firm hired to grade the tests.

Westinghouse Information Service, a scoring contractor based in Iowa City, Iowa, blamed "computer error" for mistakes in the scores of the Arizona students in grades 1 through 12 who took the California Achievement Test in April.

Some students received higher or lower scores than they should have, some were credited with more correct answers than there were questions on the test, and some students who were absent for the testing received passing grades.

The errors were spotted by principals and superintendents and brought to the attention of the state department of education. The firm has acknowledged the error and has promised to produce correct scores this month.

Ten Connecticut towns have failed in their attempts to participate directly in a major school-finance case in the state.

The state's Supreme Court has refused to allow New Haven and nine other municipalities to intervene in the reopened case of Horton v. Meskill, in which the Connecticut Supreme Court in 1974 ruled the state's school-finance system was unequal and unconstitutional.

The court upheld a lower-court ruling that the primary rights at stake in the case are the students' "constitutional rights to equal protection and free public education," and not those of the state's 169 municipalities.

The case was brought back to court by the original plaintiffs after the state legislature in 1980 amended a five-year plan to equalize state aid to districts. The equalization plan had been drafted to comply with the court's 1974 decision.

A $25-million lawsuit has been filed against the Glendale Union High School District and the Arizona Interscholastic Association by the parents of a high-school student who was paralyzed from the neck down by a wrestling injury.

Eric Lock, 18 years old, was injured in December 1980 during a freshman wrestling team match.

The suit charges negligent supervision of wrestling by the school and the association. In addition, the plaintiffs claim that the aia did not assign an experienced official who could have recognized potentially dangerous holds and that the school district did not provide proper training for wrestlers.

After hearing more than 60 witnesses on both sides of the issue, the Alabama Ethics Commission has decided that public-school educators may not receive a salary for serving in the state legislature.

The ruling, however, will not become final until the Justice Department has reviewed it, a requirement that stems from the 1965 Voting Rights Act, according to a spokesman for the state ethics commission.

The loss to the legislators, however, will not be that great, at least in financial terms. If the ruling becomes final, the more than 40 legislators who are in some way involved in public education will not receive the $10-per-day salary that the state pays its legislators during the legislative session. The ruling does not affect educators who work in private schools.

However, the educator-legislators will continue to receive $55 per day for expenses during the session, as well as a $400-per-month expense stipend that legislators receive year-round, according to the spokesman for the state ethics commission.

The Alabama Education Association, which had testified against the measure, found the ethics commission's ruling "fair," and "probably the best decision we could expect," according to Paul Hubbert, the organization's executive director. He said that the aea did not plan any further action on the matter.

The commission did not issue any opinion on two other questions that those who supported the measure had also asked them to address. The question of whether educators could continue to serve in the legislature was "not within our purview," the spokesman said. The other question--whether legislators should be permitted to vote on education-related bills--is covered by the Alabama constitution, which prohibits any legislator from voting on bills that would give him private or personal gain.

A potentially controversial one-year freeze on merit, step, and longevity pay for teachers and other state employees was among the budget proposals recently sent to the North Carolina legislature by Gov. James B. Hunt Jr.

The freeze, which would take effect July 1, would save the state about $93 million.

Other cost-saving measures may also figure into the budget, if the legislature agrees with the Governor. He has proposed deferring payments for replacing 446 school buses during the 1982-1983 school-year, which would save about $8.5 million. In addition, the state will need about $799,000 less for remedial-education programs since fewer students are failing the state's high-school competency test. And by postponing the adoption of a new language-arts textbook for grades 1 through 8, the state would save an additional $5.2 million.

Other money-saving proposals include a $2-million reduction in funding for the staff-development centers operated by the state education department and a $1-million cut for the department's regional centers.

Some programs would receive more money under proposals made by legislative aides. For example, they have proposed $21.4 million in new funds for the treatment of emotionally disturbed and violent youths.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that the state athletic association's decision to deny eligibility to a senior-high basketball player who would have exceeded the eight-semester limit was "unlawful and therefore invalid."

Under the rules of the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, high-school athletes are only eligible to participate for eight consecutive semesters. The student, Robert H. Duffley, became ill at the beginning of his sophomore year. He did not receive academic credit for the first three months of the year and did not participate in basketball.

In a three-to-two decision, the court said: "It is apparent that interscholastic athletics are considered an integral and important element of the educational process in New Hampshire. It follows that the right to participate in them at least rises above that of a mere privilege."

Because a student's ability to attend college may hinge on athletic scholarships, the court said, "we hold that the right of a student to participate in interscholastic athletics is one that is entitled to the protections of procedural due process."

The athletic association had ruled that, although he did not attend school during his sophomore year, Mr. Duffley could not play for the final semester of his senior year, because it would have been his ninth semester of play.

The case was Robert H. Duffley v. The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Vol. 01, Issue 34

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