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The Tennessee Board of Education has established a two-tiered system of high-school diplomas and "certificates of attendance" to differentiate between seniors who pass and those who fail a state proficiency test.

The board officially adopted the certificate of attendance at its August meeting in Nashville.

The certificate will be given for the first time next spring to students who complete course requirements and have satisfactory conduct and attendance records, but who fail the proficiency test. The proficiency exam has been described by one board member as a "6th-grade test."

It tests four areas: English, reading, spelling, and mathematics.

Students have five opportunities to pass it, including two testing periods in their senior year.

An estimated 10,000 to 16,000 of Tennessee's more than 60,000 seniors must still pass one or more of the four parts of the test during the coming school year in order to earn a diploma next spring.

The board did not act on a proposal by the Tennessee Education Association to allow students who have failed the test to upgrade their certificates to diplomas by taking the test again after they complete high school.

North Carolina, which has had a similar two-tiered system in place for three years, does allow graduates to take its state competency test after they finish high school. North Carolina officials estimate that 2 percent of that state's students still have not passed the test by the time they are scheduled to graduate.

Tennessee seniors, including special-education students, who pass the proficiency test and have completed the required course work will receive a regular high-school diploma.

Special-education students who complete their coursework but fail the proficiency test will be eligible for a "special-education diploma.''

The California Senate has rejected a bill that would have placed a high-school student on the 10-member state board of education as a voting member.

But the bill's supporters have persuaded another senator, Ralph Dill, to place the measure on a bill he is sponsoring in the form of an amendment.

The defeated bill, introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Teresa P. Hughes, had been passed earli-er by the state assembly.

Currently, a nonvoting student member sits on the board, but the defeated bill would have given a 12th-grade student, selected by the other board members for a one-year term, the same powers as other members.

Is a child born at 1:50 A.M., Sept. 1, 1976, in eastern Canada as old as one born at 10:50 P.M., Aug. 31, 1976, in New Mexico?

Some people might well conclude that the answer is no. But for purposes of entering first grade, yes, according to the general counsel's office of the New Mexico State Department of Education. The office was asked to interpret state laws that include minimum age requirements for entrance into kindergarten and first grade.

The minimum-age law states that a child must be at least 6 years old before 12:01 A.M. on Sept. 1 to enter first grade, and 5 years old before that date to enter kindergarten.

Bruce Gilson of Cerrillos, N.M., whose son William was born at 1:50 A.M., Sept. 1, 1976, in New Brunswick, Canada, argued that the time of the child's birth in the Atlantic time zone was equivalent to a birth at 10:50 P.M. the previous night in New Mexico.

The education department has issued an opinion agreeing with him.

Charles Noland, assistant general counsel in the department, said that although the opinion does not have the force of law, he has been told that the Santa Fe board of education will allow William to enter first grade in the fall.

Vol. 01, Issue 41

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