District News Roundup

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On Oct. 6, more than 500 black students in Montgomery County, Md., will begin going to school on Saturdays. The Saturday School Program, now in its second year, is a volunteer effort sponsored by local community groups to increase the academic achievement of black youngsters in grades 1 through 12.

Approximately 75 percent of the students who participated in the program last year improved their grades in school, according to Hanley J. Norment, press and public-information coordinator for the program.

Nearly 200 people--including black public-school teachers; federal, state, and county employees; members of black organizations; and retired people--volunteer three hours every Saturday to tutor groups of six or fewer students in mathematics, language arts, and English.

Members of the black community launched the program last December because of their concern for the high percentage of black students who had failed the state's minimum-competency tests, Mr. Norment said.

For example, only 34 percent of the black students taking the mathematics portion of the test in the fall of 1982 passed, compared with 53 percent of the white students, according to James Myerberg, coordinator of testing for Montgomery County schools.

Black students' scores improved on the mathematics, reading, and writing tests this past school year, he said. And black students were the only group that showed significant increases on the Maryland Functional Writing Test.

There are currently 13,113 black students enrolled in the Montgomery County public schools for the 1984-85 school year, out of a total of 91,635 students.

The football team at Central High School in Newark, N.J., will forfeit its eight games this year because only 12 athletes on the 45-man squad have academic averages that meet the school district's minimum eligibility requirements for interscholastic competition.

Although the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association requires that students have at least a D-average in all classes, the Newark school board requires students to have at least a C-average in major subjects during the previous school year.

Gene A. Foti, acting executive superintendent of schools, said at a special assembly at the high school earlier this month that the national call for upgraded academics in schools "makes it imperative that students meet standards, not just the minimum but the maximum."

"We are concerned about your total academic development as well as your athletic development," Mr. Foti told students.

The Newark school system developed its policy, according to Ronald Frye, assistant executive superintendent for secondary programs, to be in line with the National Collegiate Athletic Association's "Rule 48,'' a requirement that college freshmen who want to participate in Division 1 intercollegiate sports must have had at least a 2.0 (out of 4.0) grade-point average in high school.

Vol. 04, Issue 04

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